Or just the idea of the thing within the pattern already begun
Friday July 01st 2022, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

After a year on the waiting list, the roofers got started today. Noisy. Can’t read to hear yourself think, so after an initial attempt with the fish yarns the baby afghan is the one that got the progress.

The color is Ravelry Red in a dye lot more to the orange side than some, which, it turns out, is perfect. When I bought it I thought, that’s for someone Asian. And it was, but I had no idea at the time why that seemed the very thing I needed to have on hand, for–? I had no plans. But it seemed to, and it demanded to be ready for them.

A year later, here we are.

The lace pattern is Barbara Walker’s Flames, and (knitting it for the first time ever, now that it’s finally found the right reason for it) it does match the name.

What if… I went to Ravelry and searched for dragon patterns.

I found a sleeping dragon, which goes with babies but even if you skipped its pile of treasure it seemed more Welsh mythology to me. The grandparents are Chinese and Japanese and this needs to please both cultures and if anyone knows anything to fill me in on or to be careful of, please tell me.

There was a curly-tailed upright one that looked definitely promising. No feet, but, I like it.

A little research… A white dragon would convey mourning in Japanese culture. No way! How about a white square center with a red intarsia dragon in it, it seems that would work? Or should I make the background black to avoid any Imperial-ness?

The solid heavy fabric of intarsia inside a sea of lace would both distort the fabric and keep it from having the stretch across that I want it to; I am for once actually making it baby blanket size because there were only a thousand grams in the dye lot. It’s 45″ wide in the lace and will stretch a little more; you really don’t want it narrower.

Though, hmm. I do have more red that’s so close it’s hard to tell they’re not quite a match so if I did dragon it, I could use those skeins inside the white-or-black. If it came out too narrow I could add an edging since for once I didn’t put anything other than a few plain rows and stitches around the thing.


Eh. I’m not to where I have to worry about it yet. The dragon is 85 rows long. I’ve done 32 rows and it’s 6″ (could become 7″ after blocking). So the dragon would be about 16″ long, (maybe I should up a needle size on the intarsia?) plus whatever size white square frames it, meaning if I started the motif right now the whole blanket would come out about 30″. Nope. Ten more inches, easily, before I start messing with the center.

Sixty stitches wide to my 151 stitch project.

The eye likes things in thirds, and 16″ red, 16″ dragon, 16″ red–it would be smack dab in the center, which doesn’t fit the rule of three quite so well, but it is by thirds so tough.

Or not.

I could add a border if it gets too narrow!

I’ve only twice ever bothered to actually add a border to an afghan, and I’d have to do a whole ‘nother dive on the cultural color thing. A darker shade of red?

Lots of time to think about it yet.

I just think a dragon’s breath keeping a baby warm would be so cool.

(And no, they have no idea this is coming.)

Working it out out loud
Wednesday June 22nd 2022, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I stopped by my friend Nina’s with a chocolate torte yesterday just because I could, and as we were catching up she reminded me that her sister-in-law is Chinese.

Could you ask her for me, I asked. I need to not make any color faux-pas on this.

She did that, and got back to me. From there, I did what I should have thought of in the first place and simply Googled for more info, second opinion, more certainty, whatever.

China and Japan both like red.

Japan likes white with red and associates it with the imperial? Would that mean I’d better not do both just to be on the safe side. Did I just answer my own question.

The pictures, though, all conveyed a more orange shade and Colourmart actually has a quite bright one that could be just the thing–but I just can’t. That light frequency is one that makes my brain want to finally have the seizure they warned me about after my car got sandwiched. (Well look at that. I’d forgotten being called sir when I looked bald.)

Besides, the Light Wine in my stash is 50/50 cotton/cashmere, not 15/85–way more softness. It is definitely on the blue side, though, which is *my* type of red, not likely theirs. Here, let me swatch that and see how much the dye crocks, red is usually the least stable color–ie, can you say self-justification?

What I should do is ask if they’re okay with wool. I’ve got Malabrigo’s Ravelry Red here, too, come to think of it, and color-wise it would be just right for both sides. Except that this is supposed to be a surprise.

Heck, in six months, even if my daughter’s friend’s baby comes early, I could make both by then and have them choose by color snip or a burp cloth of a swatch.

That coral reef afghan is going to get done someday but it’s going to be an even longer process because projects with deadlines (after the dithering is over with) are going to be constantly pushing it out of the way.

Morello tart cherry color?
Monday June 13th 2022, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

English Morello tart cherries for a pie, second round of ripening.

Did I get them pitted yet? I did not. But I did knit a good start of a cashmere cowl and two and a half rows on the coral reef, which goes so slowly that I have committed myself to a row a day. Minimum. Even if that row takes an hour. That way I don’t get discouraged and I do get to see progress.

The colors themselves say hey come play with me! That brilliant Matisse blue is toned down somewhat by what’s within it and they’re brightened by the Matisse.

Meantime, I have suddenly and in great delight been requested to make a baby blanket for the best-friend-of. So now I know what my plain-knitting respite project from the craziness of the colorwork is going to be after I finish that cowl; I just have to pick which yarn it’s going to be.

How do you ask someone what various colors might mean to them culturally when you want it to be a surprise?

To be continued.

Plain and simple
Thursday May 12th 2022, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The decreases at the top always take longer than I expect them to, somehow, but run in the ends and it’s done.

Ella Rae Cashmereno Aran (I’d say more a worsted.)

I sent off a note to my niece whose son it’s for, explaining the fall and that I’d just finished the brim and had had a pattern picked out to do next when I decided to go outside to do some yard work in the setting sun. How I then found myself waiting for the emergency dentist with my hands simply working familiar, simple stitches, again and again and again and around and around and around, too rattled to think through that pattern but comforted by how the knitting took my mind off myself and towards happy anticipation of her son getting what he’d hoped I’d be willing to make him.

I told her how grateful I was that they’d asked because they had made it so I had it when I was the one who needed that.

Sunday May 01st 2022, 8:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Finally, I thought as I broke the strand on my niece’s afghan. Now I can do colors! I walked down the hall to go get my phone to take this picture with visions of various skeins bought and not bought yet and all the ways I could play with what they could do.

Waiting on that phone was a text from another niece: her son loved the green hat I’d made him a few years ago; could I make him a dark gray one?

She didn’t say, in a color he got to choose himself this time.

There’s only one answer to that question. Of course.

Don’t go out the back door
Monday April 25th 2022, 8:27 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

Tonka truck for scale, sort of.

If I hold it up, the weight drags it to being slightly taller than me, but the recipient has about 5″ on me. It should cover her feet and go up to her chin which means the person’s height plus a bit extra for wiggle room.

Factor in that it’s 50/50 cashmere/cotton and I’m going to deliberately preshrink that cotton a bit when I scour the mill oils out before handing it off.

So I figure I’ll simply keep going till I finish that big cone and call it good. I’ve got about 175 yards to go. Today’s her birthday and she got a note and an IOU for now.

Oh, and just because: I’ve got to show you the renter near Tahoe who couldn’t figure out where the purring sounds were coming from till he finally called in a volunteer group to check just to make sure it wasn’t…

There were five bears hibernating underneath the house.

Who knew black bears snore like kittens?

All in good time
Tuesday March 15th 2022, 7:55 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

This one’s roots needed somewhere to go, that paper cup wasn’t doing it anymore, so it just went into a large pot like last year’s seedlings. It feels like my baby just graduated kindergarten or something.

The knitting: somehow it got a lot longer than it felt like it was.

Between the yarnovers that draw the eye upward, these are redwood saplings.

Like the many being planted in our parks to start the thousand-year journey towards replacing the ones that have burned.


Finicky knitting
Sunday February 20th 2022, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I decided that last hat should have been done on a size smaller needle or maybe even two.

So then rather than doing that, exactly, I went up a needle size, decreased the stitch count somewhat, and substituted the thicker Malabrigo Mecha for their Rios to see how that would do.

And I think the answer is… Next time do floats. Since the biggest problem is the black showing through the white at the front. My usual is to wrap the unused across the back of every working stitch so that things are snug, warm, and don’t catch on things, including in the laundry, but that means needing it to be knit very densely to keep those bits from becoming visible.

I just need to stop being reluctant to knit the thing on size 3 US, frankly. Then I can keep on doing it my way.

I finished the second hat.

Tsunami of tstitches
Saturday February 12th 2022, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Finished the intarsia section on the do-over and would have finished the hat but for the hands needing a break. It’s more stitches and smaller needles than my usual but after all the plain beanies it is deeply satisfying to do something complicated that the recipient is so looking forward to.

On a different subject: my late father-in-law was a lawyer for the Justice Department in his day and there was a case that he flew out west for to argue against a woman who had declared herself the inheritor, by long-ago treaty, of the entire San Francisco Bay and a lot of the surrounding land, from what he told me.

There’s a problem with that: Federal law says you cannot own navigable waterways. Sorry.

For that matter, in California you cannot claim to own the beach. The public must have access. A tech billionaire who wanted privacy took that to court and lost again and again, but the answer stayed no, as well it should. Splashing in the ocean is not for the rich only.

With that, then, I know these were built in 1960, but having the tide come in under your living room? Yeah it’s really cool, I grant you that; $2,649,000 for that view is not a surprise.

The stonework in the kitchen that echoes the flow and colors of the waves is just glorious. So well done.

But. But. One little offshore earthquake and your huge investment will be completely under water.

A new start
Friday February 11th 2022, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

It’s February. It hit 80F.  This is not normal. The air conditioning kicked on. I realized I had done repeats of 13, not 14 on the hat project and it was totally not working and after wishing for about two seconds for it to be something other than what it was, I started the ripping back, unwinding the tangling intarsia work slowly, slowly. I knew better and yet I’d done it wrong anyway. All I’d needed was to be a little less sure of myself and doublecheck. Well, okay, now I have.

But then seeing the first three peach flowers of the year opening up by evening and all the buds ready to pop where there had been nothing but gray dormancy a few days ago was just so joyful that it made up for everything, and I can’t wait to see how that tree looks tomorrow.

And the next tree. And the next one.

I chased away a squirrel that wanted to snack on the little pinknesses. Some things never change.


I mean, they’re pretty, but
Wednesday February 09th 2022, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

(Found the second color I was looking for, found the needles, and most importantly, the brain cleared from those falls to remember how I did it, so Emily’s replacement hat can finally begin.)

Warning: the rest of this post is a Get Off My Lawn.

I was googling to make sure I was understanding a particular architectural term correctly: floating. Because it was being applied to something that I didn’t think was, in order for the realtor’s listing to sound fancy.

Personally, I would say the correct word for this type of staircase has more to do with a direction and an article of clothing men don’t wear save with bagpipes in hand and kilt hose, myself. Do these bother other people?

Taking it further, I don’t know if it’s still there since they did some remodeling a few years ago, but we were invited to the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco with my folks by my cousin when they were in town and it was new.

The floor of the top floor was glass–if I remember right, in alternating stripes of opaque and clear. But what about earthquakes?! All that potential falling glass not to mention people. Wearing a skirt and looking down at the crowds below looking up, I emphatically did not linger. I did not wish to be Exhibit A. I did not want to be reminded of fourth and fifth grade when all the girls learned to layer up with shorts under their skirts in defense against those boys whose behavior was not corrected by the teachers nor staff.

I most certainly had opinions on what the gender of that architect had to be. I’m sure it just never occurred to him.

Or worse, it did.

I’ve been to the post-earthquake DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park since then, but not that one.

Emily’s turn
Sunday February 06th 2022, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

The sunlight only had a few minutes left and I excused myself from my knitting group Zoom a moment to step outside to cover the mango tree to hold in the warmth from the incandescent Christmas lights; it was 34F this morning, and since I had had it professionally pruned on Friday, I could only assume the cuts would make it a little more vulnerable right now. If it freezes it dies.

I always try to do that really carefully because those covers are big, it’s an awkward process, and it’s easy to trip on them. Not to mention I have no sense of balance.

I was not remembering that I must never be distracted nor in a hurry at this.

I found where my shoe had ended up as I took the measure of the outcome. Nothing seemed broken. Fingers unhappy. The rest will let me know (and it’s starting to.) I found myself unexpectedly a bit dizzy. Having fallen four days ago tripping over a box at the front door, one big toe was going, Are you kidding me. Again?

I came back inside and found myself suddenly short of breath as I was turning the camera back on to my friends. I didn’t say anything to them and in fact kept knitting the plain beanie I was working on thank you left hand but I did confess to my family after it was over.

I got me a loving but stern talking-to from both of them. I got lectured on the value of me vs the tree. I got told to be careful. (I know, I know.)

Tonight’s the coldest night in the forecast for the next ten days, and things should be warming up from there so hopefully we’re done dealing with this for the season.

And then.

I got a wonderful note back from my niece re the afghan I’d just finished for her daughter whom she’d given my name as her middle name: she is thrilled, it is gorgeous, and by airplane or mail, by whatever means they will all be very very happy when it comes.

She, hesitating and unsure in the asking, had one request, though: I had once knit her a hat and she had loved it very much. She didn’t quite want to say it but her mom/my sister had encouraged her and said she should, and–would it be possible I could knit her another one like that? Because it had been just so perfect and it had meant a lot to her. She had checked the Lost and Founds everywhere. It was distinctive, but no, they hadn’t seen it.

Her email yanked me right out of my self-pity and straight into happy anticipation at such an easy way to make her world right again. I’d needed that. The afghan needs the security of arrival by air by me after Omicron gets out of here, but seventy stitches’ and about fifty rows’ worth of a hat: that, I’d be willing to trust the post office with.

My left hand might want to wait a day or two to start.

But not if I have any say in it.

Friday February 04th 2022, 6:36 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

Morning light somehow captures the color best so far.

For my own notes: two strands of dk Cashwool in Mulberry (sold out) from Colourmart, two 900 gram cones with 208 and 162g remaining but that includes 32 grams for the plastic cones they’re wound onto, size 8 needles, 239 stitches per row and could have been wider but with lots of sideways stretch it will definitely do.


I did it my way
Tuesday February 01st 2022, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Finally, finally, and with some reluctance, I finished the last pattern row tonight. All that’s left is the ribbing across the top.

On November 23, I opened my yellow Barbara Walker charted treasury copy wide enough to photocopy page 146 to start this afghan. I only made one copy. Given the stress on the paperback’s binding and how I didn’t want to do that again, that was dumb.

So in all that time I’ve been keeping pairs of post-it notes to underline which row I was working from to keep my eyes and brain from skittering all over the page and losing their place from stitch to individual stitch. The stickum wears off, you put on two more side by side to cover the width of the written row, repeat, repeat, later join Wordle (yesterday!) and use the used-up ones for sketching quick notes on.

As for the pattern, that piece of paper is looking pretty ratty at this point. But better it than my book.

The brightness of nighttime lighting reflecting off the whiteness of the page made it hard to see the stitches and I was forever pushing it up a bit out of the way and having it slide back down to my lap. I was so close to not needing it–but with the complexity of that piece and the parts that are counter-intuitive I didn’t dare risk it.

Ribbing. It really only needs that ribbing. It’s kind of hard to believe.

Finally, finally, the thing let me get a better picture of the color as a going-away present.

And in all that time I never realized till I went to look up the page number for this post just now (since it didn’t print out on the xerox) that it was supposed to be garter stitch separating the undulating waves. I’d done all of that purl-side out. All of it. All that time I’d stared at all those little dots and x’s and slanting lines and the like, easily a hundred hours, I’d had no idea I was being a rebel.

Well, good, then, because I like it better this way.

Sunday January 30th 2022, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Food,Knitting a Gift

Applesauce Honey cake at Spruce Eats is the winner so far. Cocoa in boiling water substituted for the coffee.

The afghan: if I stop at the last row of the pattern, #40, then the top and the bottom won’t mirror. As written, it starts with pairs of cables and ends just before the cabling, because of course when you’re repeating over and over, but not so much when you’re coming to a stop. So I’m thinking I’ll end after a pair of cables and half a motif, meaning, row #32. Or #12 on a ninth repeat, which I have just enough yarn for.

My niece and her husband are both tall. Right now it’s 64″ unblocked with 5.5″ to go if I stop at #32 once you factor in the ribbing.

Which I really really want to do right now, but having gotten this far, if I need to go on I’ll go on and my rule of thumb is to match the person’s height so it can cover their feet. No skimping. Plus it came out a little narrower than I wanted at 48″, but with a lot of sideways stretch so no problem–except that that pulls the length downwards quite a bit.

And on a side note: it occurred to me today that I could go into the local paint store, buy a paint chip that matches it, and send that off to ask if they all like the color without giving away what’s up.

Because they would never, ever suspect me of knitting. Right?