If you need to ask, you need to do it.
I’d done the hot water scouring to get the mill oils out of the silk baby afghan and the rinse water still had blue. Should be fine, thought I a few days ago, and laid it out to dry.
It bugged me. I finally said something to somebody, more to out myself than anything.
If you need to ask, you need to do it.
And so yesterday it was hot water rinse after hot water rinse and when I say hot water, I mean my husband left the setting on the new water heater higher than we’ve ever had it: I was putting that afghan in and then pushing it down into the water with something else so I wouldn’t burn my hands.
Finally, on the fifth time soaking (making seven in all), it came out clear enough to wonder if any blue effect left was just reflections across the water from the afghan itself. It felt okay, finally, so, done.
The afghan and its matching hat are a lighter blue than they were. And that’s fine.
Meantime, I called my mom today and it was not that much different really from the usual in terms of hearing her. Huh. A letdown.
Richard came home: “Oh good, you’re wearing the blue tooth.” (Second glance.) “But why don’t you have it turned on?”
Oh. Riiiiiight. Forgot that you don’t just take it off the charger in the morning like a cellphone, you have to turn it ON. Duhhhh.
And then I went off to knit night, where I heard one woman’s voice–and from across the noisy room–for the first time. Ever. Hadn’t realized I actually didn’t know what she sounded like.
Another woman, after I explained I had new hearing aids, went, “So that’s why you don’t sound deaf anymore.”
“I sounded deaf? I try really hard not to.”
And then she added, “I’m going to have to be careful what I say now,” and laughed a good one.
I knitted the afghan working from two cones of silk at a time, four total.
Today I sat down to see if I could wrangle a baby hat out of the rest of the cone that had the slightly largest amount left. Single stranded instead of doubled, part because I wanted a finer fabric and part because there was so little yarn now. Eyeballing all the way,Â hoping I was leaving enough for the decreasing at the top, checking Bev’s size chart, and yay, I made it!
Yeah I could rip out the last dozen rows to add another two of them to the main part. No I’m not going to. (No I did not snip it off yet, either. In case a new day gave me more patience.)
I wonder if I could squeeze a pair of baby booties out of the other near-empty cones. Because just one would look funny.
Almost on to the next
Four more rows of ribbing to finish off that baby afghan as I type. Got the 25 repeats done I was aiming for and found I had maybe maybe enough yarn to do another–and decided to save it for a matching hat (it should stretch that far) and baby booties (which might even fit before he’s three this time. I can only get better at this baby knitting thing.)
Meantime, being thrown so badly back into serious sickness by a common bug had me more worried last week than I wanted to admit, even to me.
Michelle M quilts as well as knits, and four years ago when I was doing all that hospital stuff she was making me a get-well quilt. Somehow its shipping time wasn’t quite there yet… Till she asked me about a week ago how to get this to me?
It’s far prettier than my nighttime sideways snapshot shows. The anticipation, the box, lifting the quilt out and going oh wow!, feeling thought about and cared about and marveling that she would go to all this everything for me, it gave me a tremendous sense of reprieve that I don’t quite know how to say. Her timing was perfect.
And she had no way to know it, but my mom quilts and several years ago Mom and I went to a quilt shop and I picked out fabrics for a quilt for her to make me whenever my turn in line should come up (no hurry).
The light fabric Michelle picked? I did too, or one very like if it’s not that exact one.Â Mom’s will be different and the two will go very nicely together. All the more perfect.
In the race
The forever question: if you were making a baby afghan out ofÂ a very good natural-fibers yarn, would you stop at baby size if you had enough yarn to make it toddler/young child size or even bigger, or would you continue on? Receiving blankets are so necessary but have such a short need time.
I was going for continuing on, knitting all afternoon with the stereo going. A break for icing my hands and a two hour break for picking everybody up. (When the VP grabs you on the way out the door, the taxi driver cools her flats in the parking lot.)
I almost but didn’t take my knitting along just in case. My hands needed me not to.
Mixed with, the sense of impending arrival is strong and I want it finished by tomorrow night and all ready for him.
It’s slow knitting. There’s still easily seven hours’ worth of work left if I’m going to go for every last repeat I can squeeze out of this yardage.
How do you decide how big to make them?
Pass the lemon juice, Honey
They grow so fast…
Yesterday’s Tropic Snow peach is noticeably bigger than yesterday and the last of the flower that was attached to it is gone. It’s almost April and it’s supposed to be ripe in June, so I guess it’s not wasting a moment. I stuck a finger down into the dirt, which could use some mulch: good. Still moist enough, don’t have to water yet.
I saw the beginning of two on the August Pride, too; they weren’t discernibly certain yesterday. Now they’re well past the just-a-guess, along with the new green plum needlepoints on the tree facing them. That little bit of rain last week didn’t hamper those blossoms after all.
I really like that planting those peaches has gotten me in the habit of walking around the backyard in the evenings and taking in the green and the growing and claiming it for my soul. Watching a bit of God’s knitting coming to be as the daylight stretches slowly longer.
Meantime, it looks like I’ll be able to make the baby afghan go further down towards my feet than I had thought the yarn would be able to reach to, good, and…after a week of dodging it, I’m finally catching Richard’s bug. Hoping that a cold will just be a cold.
(There was a get-together tonight that I was really looking forward to. My chocolate torte got delivered but my conscience needed me not to share the germs and I walked the garden here instead. To the vector, go the soils.)
The new grandson is due in a month.
His big brother came three weeks early.
My daughter-in-law’s mother had her kids early like that, too.
I figure I’ve got me about a week to finish this and everything else I can think of. And after all the decades of not wanting to knit baby sweaters or booties, of fighting too hard against the knitting-is-for-grandmas stereotype (I mean, I was ten when I started…) on my second go-round now of actually being a grandma I think I’m finally getting over myself; I can’t wait to knit a baby sweater after this afghan is done. There is hope!
(But just in case I waver, I’m outing myself. Again. Peer pressure: it’s a good thing.)
She’ll be springing forward all over again too
These pictures, taken at dusk today, are for my mom most of all.
While waiting to hear from Dad, I took my need not to be worrying about things out on that afghan: *ripped back, started over, repeated from * once and then I had it. It’s on its way now and finally beautiful and I love it and it’s such a relief.
Meantime, my mom had struggled with a torn meniscus for months and finally had knee surgery today (correction via Dad–they did a knee replacement). Dad reports that she is pushing the familiar green pain-med button every 15 minutes. The worst is over, the good part’s coming, and now my mother, who loves to take a good brisk walk, will be able to again when the healing is done.
And just for Mom, this red amaryllis that Dad gave me for Christmas a few Decembers ago that sat for several months this year refusing my entreaties to come up–and then finally did–opened its two flowers today, the universe sending my parents flowers. I quite like that.
And the first two tomato seedlings sprang out of the pot and then straightened their nodded heads to look up and show off their first two leaves to the sky, too, today. Tadaah! They’ve got a Spring in each step.
The lace hat with the Charlie Brown zigzags
Glenn Stewart just published a book! The biologist whose lifework has been to bring iconic raptor species back from the brink. And I already know the guy can write well. Kindle version so far, and I can only imagine the squinting of the person who said he was reading it on his Iphone, but as soon as we find our Kindle I’ll be reading it too.
And in the meantime.
I kept kicking myself for feeling zero interest in working on the baby afghan this afternoon. I should be putting it first and foremost–and I did want to knit, but not that, and instead found myself picking up the hat I’d been working on at the lupus group meeting yesterday, trying to finish it before knit night.
Didn’t quite make it.
With the one-car situation, I only made the last hour at Purlescence. (They have my book. I sign them. Just mentioning, like I do occasionally.)
And so for forty-five minutes or so I worked those last repeats and decreases. Bound off. Managed to work the ends in far enough with my knitting needles after coming up empty for an eye-of-a- type.Â Checked my keys: nope, I’d taken my little Swiss knife off them last time I went traveling and never did remember to put it back on. Well, then.
And with that I walked across the room to Danette, who’d been far enough away that we hadn’t exchanged a word the whole time–I’m too deaf to even try from that far in a noisy room–and thanked her again for the ride home from Stitches. Baby alpaca/merino/cashmere, says I as I’m grinning and walking away while her eyes are up to the ceiling and her jaw down to the ground and the whole room lights up.
Y’know, there’s this whole inner issue of do something quietly, not for show. But dang was it fun just the way it was.
Danette’s got a little girl who’s just starting to be verbal, and so as we walked out at the 9:00 bell I turned to her where she had the hat happily on her head and those two yarn ends hanging down her shoulder, picked one up a moment and pronounced, You’re dribbling.
With all due joy
I like the fact that when you knit from a cone, you only have to weave the beginning and the end ends into the fabric. No joining of skeins in the middle.
It’s not that the skein lengths are the problem: it’s my memory of the baby quilt a friend lovingly made my youngest. It was a great quilt, bright and cheerful and colorful and with little shiny slippery ribbon ties all over. (With, thank goodness, a cotton batting inside that could never bunch up.)
John at a year old discovered that he could undo those red ribbon ties. I would put him to bed and he’d work his fingers carefully into those little knots and tug here and there and pull. Great dexterity very young, interested in fibers, clearly a future knitter. (I’m still waiting.) Once he was asleep I would take it away from him, retie all the ties (0r at least the ones he hadn’t pulled all the way out) so that it wouldn’t become a game with Mommy to him because then we’d lose them all, and then cover him back up again with his favorite blankie.
I know what little fingers can do to ends.
My daughter-in-law would like a baby blanket made out of a soft synthetic such that it can be dragged around and abused and used without her wincing or gasping over what her little boy or the laundry might do to it. But I just wish I knew how to find a baby-soft worsted synthetic/blend on, you know, a cone… Any suggestions?
And yes that is an announcement. We are starting into the third trimester now. Parker is going to be a big brother, and the new baby boy is due on my husband’s birthday.
Going to great lengths for him
It’s become a joke by now.
Is it done yet?
I model it for him, past my knees, towards my ankles.
He grins, tries it on, it’s shorter than fingertip-to-fingertip, and looks at me not quite laughing–but he hasn’t sung Short People at me. Yet.
This is the man who never in his life had had the luxury of a sweater with sleeves long enough to fold back the cuffs, so I’d made him one with an 86″ wingspan. Fits him perfectly.
I knit some more. The scarf is at 82″ now, surely…? But there is more of this fingering weight baby alpaca, I can keep going. It has fond memories: anyone else out there remember Russ of Robin and Russ Handweaving? He bought a truckload of this stuff back when nobody had ever heard of baby alpaca yarns. Sold it in natural colors at a buck a ball, 40 grams each, not on cones, not his usual stuff but oh so very soft. Mine started out a soft fawn.
I dyed several pounds of it ten years ago, the skeins presoaked for an attempt at color evenness and shoved in that suddenly small-looking pot as best I could. I didn’t take the time to hank and then rewind all those skeins for the dye process; I had just gotten out of the hospital a few weeks before. I lifted that pot.Â It felt heroic enough. An afghan for the doctor who’d saved my life–and it had cashmere I dyed to match knitted into it, too, and my mother-in-law played a part in that, and I so wish I could find the rest of that yarn in time for this project because of that connection to her.
But. I have the baby alpaca. The leftovers seem to be the skeins that were the most felted and tangled and the least matching and oh well.
But I am knitting three strands crammed together on size 9s for softness and warmth and the shades can waverÂ between themselves all they want. One browner, one lighter, one redder, repeat at the 35″ mark.
My husband has never had a scarf long enough that it doesn’t look like a tall man trying to fit into normal people’s sizes. Partly too because we live where you don’t need one. This, though, is going to be long enough. I had to ice my hands several times today (the seed stitch part of that pattern is a bear to work) but I’m. Almost. There.
Their gift was the greater
Got to the post office: boots returned, striped hat mailed to old friend. Check.
Drove north. Silk scarf delivered to Piano Guy for his wife.
“I didn’t think they *made* this anymore,” he wondered out loud. “It really is…?”
“Silk,” I nodded, Yes. (It’s all Colourmart‘s fault.)
When I knit a hat for him awhile ago, he gave me a handshake in thanks, but in his excitement today at looking forward to the look to come in his wife’s face and in a color I knew she would love, I got a gentle hug this time on my way out.
I drove to the pharmacy. BD brand alcohol wipes in stock? (Needed when changing the dressing every three days.) Some of the other brands have perfumes, so, that one.
“I can’t keep them in stock,” Pharmacy Guy apologized.
Okay, no problem, meantime… I reached into my purse and pulled out a washable wool hat (thank you DebbieR! I just didn’t have a yarn that felt right, but she did.) “Is this set of colors okay?”
“Okay for what?” confused.
“For you, handknit by me,” and as he grabbed it, exclaiming in delight, I reminded him of that day and thanked him for looking out for us. He pulled it down to his eyebrows and created a Cheshire Cat moment: that big, big grin was all there seemed to be. He about danced.
I drove home remembering my occasional grouse over the slipperiness of silk and the few rows I had had to tink back carefully and redo because the stitches had jumped off the needle when I’d put it down, or the length of my queue or any other silly thing that ever got in my way even for a moment and remembered, this is what it’s all about. This is why I do this. To put more love into the world, to give back for all the people who’ve looked out for me, who prayed/hoped me back to good health and before and after. I owe those guys for how much more knitting will happen for more people because they knew it and they treasured it when they saw it and felt it.
(p.s. and a note to the knitters–today’s scarf was pure silk, but those on the site with a bit of lycra to them? In my very limited experience via one swatch, they seem to be able to grip another yarn in a way plain silk does not, so if you wanted to blend colors and increase weights by knitting two strands of whatever other yarn together with it, the thinner 95/5 silk/lycras are the way to go. And all of them, being cones from the mill, need to be scoured in hot water when you’re done knitting to get the mill oils out: softens the yarn and removes the dulling, graying effect of the stuff. And then look what you have! Glorious!)
Why knitters need yarn stashes
I dove into the stash and then the knitting last night, not knowing that Betsy had sent one last message: of the group of colors we had talked about, could the hat start with the black?
Blue it was, but black it would be. I set the first aside and started over, but this time, simplify, simplify, simplify and I went for stripes rather than a pattern that would have had me picking up endless stitches. Weaving in two dozen sets of ends is easier, right?
All Betsy’s fault
I got a note from an old friend from junior high, who knows I knit: might I be interested in a commission?
Not sure what she was asking and worrying it might be aran sweaters or who knows, I replied, I knit for love, not money; money just takes all the fun out of it. (Trying not to inwardly protest that I just got this perfect yarn from DebbieR that she instantly knew was for the pharmacy clerk I wrote about and sent it to me, and when I opened it I had the same reaction–this is it! So I have that hat to make. And I have someone else whose wife’s scarf is coming along, and the purple for Purlescence. The queue…!) But I said none of that.
Betsy thought on it awhile and got back to me today with: would you knit a hat for love, for me?
I laughed. Of course I would. Any allergies, what colors do you like.
It just so happens that Michelle had dumped a whole bunch of my yarn stash in the family room and I’d been sorting through projects and skeins all day, so it was easy to find what I was looking for. And: the missing size 5 that was driving me nuts and keeping me from getting that guy’s hat started? I’d been short circ-ited. Turned up two rows after I braved through the start of Betsy’s on ragged old bamboos, gold-plated Addis no less, boom, there you go. I’ll do hers and then his. I found them!
What she had no idea of, and neither did I… As I sat down and got started, her yarn next to me started plotting, rubbing its woolly little paws together in glee. I had had this half-baked idea for some time, and a hat is a great way to test a pattern on a small scale, and I’d needed a woman’s hat to do that with, and wouldn’t it be cool if Betsy’s request got me to finally work that idea out?
And I’m off. And if I push I can still finish all of those projects by the end of next week. Betsy, hon–I owe you, bigtime. Thank you!
We got home 2:30 am Texas time, no blog last night. My laptop was indeed still plugged in at home. Phew.
You know how I never put anything in the front zipped part of my rollaboard for fear the bag will then exceed the maximum dimensions there and have to be checked? And how I carefully put the two ziploc bags of knitting-related material at the top of the smaller bag? (Hah. I can finally type without dealing with an Iphone autocorrect, it’s ziploc, not ziplock.)
At some point immediately before we went to the airport I must have decided the small bag was too full and moved it into that never-used zipped part of the bigger bag after all. So there it was. I always figured it must have fallen out when I pulled my knitting out of the smaller bag.Â My sister-in-law now has her blue silk shawlette and there were the hats and I managed to cast off the light-gold silk for her just before we had to go. When we left it was drying spread across the long guest bathroom counter at the grandparents’.
Now to go pick up Michelle from the airport. She was in Japan on a business trip this past week, and was close enough to the 7.3 earthquake to feel it. There are stories to hear. And a week’s worth of email to catch up on.
Packing it in
Not much to write home about stylewise but it is soft. I wanted to make sure a head could get through there and that the arms had lots of room to move around in, since the sheared-mink yarn has no give to it; I erred on the side of baby movement, carefully measuring the casting-off around the neck as I went, and nope, ripping it back and making it looser.
I cannot wait to meet and hold her. (Oh! Right! The hat! Almost forgot the matching lace hat–good thing I have this blog to remind me!)