Well that socks
Sunday December 03rd 2017, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I knit the ribbing for the cuff of my son-in-law’s hat, then doubled every other stitch and hoped that would be enough. Cabling overlaps stitches and draws them in tight and you need a lot more of them to be able to get the thing on your head when you’re done. It sat there for days while I debated whether I needed to rip out and redo those first three rows above the ribbing or not, till I finally decided I had to move forward before I knew enough to decide to go backward. Or not. Try those first cables and see where it got me, but you can’t just sit there.

After all that angst it’s coming out just exactly right and I am very pleased with it. It’s slow going, given that I’m used to knitting lace with its holes and stretch and airspace, whereas this has (at least to some extent) wind-blocking density and a good solid warmth.

As I’ve been working it, the short straight cable needle with its points at each end bemuses me: for years and years, given that I’ve been doing cabled knitting since my teens, I wondered why on earth they sold them in sets of four or five when you only ever needed one.

Right?



Home delivery
Wednesday November 22nd 2017, 12:22 am
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

I had to go look up Whistler’s Mother to figure out why this photo reminded me of it. This one’s colorized, of course, a la Ted Turner after he bought those 1920s movies.

And that is 1420 grams of Malabrigo Rios, stuffed back into that ziplock and about to go poof and escape like an octopus



Held it in suspense
Friday November 10th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

This evening, at long last, I picked up the (overdue) wedding afghan project that I did not try to stuff into my suitcase last week and started purling the wrong side row.

While looking forward with each stitch to getting to the end so I could turn it around and remember: what was that pattern again?



Sixty-five years of marriage
Sunday November 05th 2017, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

My parents celebrated their 65th in great style, first with family, then with friends on Saturday. One of whom pulled me aside and told me, Your parents throw a great party!

Today was the actual day. Turns out today was also my Uncle Wally’s 94th birthday, which we did not know, and he was having a get-together, too, so we swung by there for just a quick visit on our way home.

To back up a little: Friday, we got to the airport two hours early because going any later meant hitting the very worst of rush hour and there was just no way.

Then the flight was delayed two and a half hours.

I cast on a hat right at the beginning and knit. And knit. And knit. Grateful that it was a pretty hefty yarn and size 9 needles so that my hands could just keep going without needing ice packs. (Which is part of why I’d bought three more skeins of Malabrigo Mecha a few days earlier.)

The hat was finished before we landed: all but running in the ends.

We fell into bed in Salt Lake City at last at 1:15 a.m. (Sorry, Mom and Dad.) We shall not speak of the car rental agency that did not check the flight status, decided we were no-shows, and did not hold our car nor would they make it right by upgrading us.

My cousin Bruce and his wife were at his dad’s during our brief dropping-by, and she got a chance to tell me how much she loved the soft shawl I’d made her. Looking at her three years later, I’d say that cancer treatment definitely worked. The doctors do theirs, I do mine.

Suddenly it dawned on me–I hadn’t wanted my handknits in my check-in so everything I’d brought to wear in the cold and the parties was stuffed in my purse–and that hat was in there. I asked her do you think he’d like, and as soon as he got wind of that idea, YES he’d love…!

But the ends. This was not quite up to my usual. Did they have a big sewing needle?

Bruce surprised me by saying that his stepmom had taught him how to crochet, so yes, he could figure out the weaving the ends in on the knitting. Then he asked how long it had taken me to make that.

Boggled his mind. “That would be six weeks for me!”

His sister joined the conversation, the cousin whose son I knit a Christmas stocking for earlier, and loved that Bruce got that and then half-turned away so as almost not to say it out loud that she wished she had a hat from me too.

Well, I’d started another one but it was only just started.

Wait. I hadn’t thought of it since I’d packed for the trip, but, I did, I’d brought a baby alpaca lace hat in a deep burgundy and it was right there. She exclaimed in delight as I pulled it out and offered it to her.

It was a little small, which is why I’d never given it away but it had carried it around on various trips to colder places: often taken, never worn but maybe once.

This time our plane was only delayed about fifteen minutes. Fifteen more and that second Mecha hat would have been done. I’m going to ask her if the hat she got really did work for her once she saw it in a mirror, and if not, hey. We’ve got a backup.

It was so very very good to see everybody. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Thank you for having us!



Priority: mail
Wednesday November 01st 2017, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I had her address. I didn’t have his. I dithered.

I finally simply asked him for it. Said I wanted to send them thank-you notes for all the work he and she had put into making the high school reunion happen for everybody who could go, and for sharing all those pictures afterwards for those of us who couldn’t. His response was vintage Paul, sweet and kind and thoughtful as he ever was.

So two Priority Mail envelopes were handed to a mail clerk yesterday. I love that they have no idea what’s really coming. I had planned on sending them sooner–but it required my asking that question first.

I finally did.

I drove away from that post office just floating: MAN, that felt good! SO good. (So why don’t I do more of that? C’mon, Alison, knit more, you know you want to!)



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

I do really like this.

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

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

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

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

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



The Arroyo
Monday October 16th 2017, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Knitting a Gift

Right when I first started, there was the occasional black stitch in the yarn: a tiny smudge of dye overload, as if bits of darkened ash to show where this project was coming from.

And yet the further along I go the brighter the colorway gets and the parts that remind one of the recipient’s burned-out landscape fade isolated into the background. Nothing has changed, they’re still there, but now you have to look back to see them. I like that.

I didn’t push to finish that cowl tonight because it’s a one-needle project that’s easy to carry around and I’ve got that delayed and long-waited-for GI doctor appointment tomorrow to take it to. I have another that takes two circs to work with, that takes a moment to untangle the tips and yarn every time I get it out and it’s gently boring in plain cream, so, hey. The show-off Anniversario waits for the morning.

(Whatever it takes to get me to finish the less interesting one. Its recipient needs it, too. She just doesn’t know it yet.)



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

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

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

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

I wound yarn.

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

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

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



October skies
Tuesday October 10th 2017, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,History,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

We are about 75 miles south of the fires raging in California’s wine country, with San Pablo Bay as a large break of water between here and there.

But the firesky sunset was intense and the clear awning over the patio glowed a deep, unfamiliar bright yellow that was both novel and startling and I could only pray for the people who went to bed in a calm night and woke up to walls of flames coming right at them, neighborhood after neighborhood. Would I have the presence of mind to grab for my hearing aids and glasses before I ran?

It is smoky and thick and smells like burning plastic outside.

Yonder Cooper’s has a tail feather coming in in the center. Like its daddy, when I needed it, there it was and it let me enjoy its presence for several minutes. It is new at that, though, and I am mindful of its skitteriness. Then it lifted to the fence and stayed a bit longer but flinched that the camera had come out while its back was turned.

The second photo was taken trying to capture it taking off. Crouch, wings out, leap! Faster than a speeding iPhone 4S!

Re the Crohn’s, today was definitely going in the right direction. Grateful for that and hoping hard.

The candy-cane-plied red and faintest beige yarn came out looking more brown the further you get from it (and when it’s wet. Which it is here.)

And… The smoke alarm just went off. Oh fun. That doesn’t mean the air is that bad…?

Six smoke alarms and a bit of teamwork later, we have new batteries and we have peace and quiet and we have a definite appreciation for how good we have it that they were not actually telling us to grab whatever we could and run.

 



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.



A nice long scarf
Friday October 06th 2017, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I wanted a bit of victory over something. Something that came out right.

And so the black not-an-afghan-anymore got another repeat knitted, which made me feel better about it, and is soaking in hot sudsy water as I type.

For a moment there as I aimed the camera before the scouring it looked like a seahorse to me.

(Edited to add second photo. It shrank from 12″ wide to 8″ and is 68″ long.)



Tuxedo colors
Wednesday October 04th 2017, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I broke my own rule recently: I started knitting straight off the cones without scouring first. Two strands together. I didn’t want to hank/scour/wind all that fingering-weight yardage for days, I just wanted to knit, even if it wouldn’t be as soft in the hands yet nor be preshrunk. Eh. If I wanted to finish an afghan in any kind of time I had to get started.

That can work–if both yarns are the same kind of fiber, and they probably are. But I got one of them at a particularly steep discount because it no longer had a label stating for sure that it was cashmere like the other, rather, there was a question mark after the word just in case they were wrong.

And so I spent a day making all kinds of progress.

The more I worked with it the more I let it hit me that if the uncertain one might actually be merino, it would be a good, soft merino that I still paid a very good price for. The twist rates were different so it felt different in the hands and that’s probably all there was to it. But…merino would shrink like crazy once the hot water hits it and you need hot water to get those mill oils out. The definitely-cashmere would shrink, too, but not as much. So we could make some pretty interesting fabric here. Inadvertently.

Swatch? What swatch?

And so it sat there waiting for me to decide how I wanted to go on.

Today it said enough already, let’s get to it.

One side of me noted that there’s probably not enough of the smaller cone to start over and still make a full afghan. Scarf? Blanket? Blanket. Keep going.

The other side said, you made that decision when you went full speed ahead without even having any idea what the dimensions would be after you finished knitting and washing. It’s not like there aren’t lots and lots of people who’d love a charcoal cashmere cowl, nothing on those cones could go to waste, once you break the yarn you can finally wind off that yardage like you should have.

And so, still trying to decide, I finished the repeat on the needles and got it to about 9×60″. I could widen it with another repeat or two (shrinkage, remember, shrinkage) and that would be good–but those ninety minutes were enough of the splittiness and the not-s0ft-that-should-be-soft for one day.

So it’s finally settled. Scarf. The shrinkage will determine whether it will be a classic long scarf or one with the ends sewn up for a double-looped cowl. All I’d had to do all this time was knit on it a little more to know what to do, just let my hands feel it and do the deciding, and they did.

And then I got halfway on a new, soft, white silk/cashmere cowl project because I guess I just needed that contrast.



Covering all my bases
Tuesday October 03rd 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Update: all four grandkid pumpkin hats knit. First attempts at add-on face pieces ripped out. But at least I got a pun out of it!



Squashed
Sunday October 01st 2017, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

After a good head start and then four two-hour sessions of Conference, this is where I am.

I didn’t get that last hat started before the last session began and so my attention wasn’t on it during the one part where it needed to be. Which is how I got to rip it all out after the first row four times. (Note to self: wait for the Tabby Choir to sing. With them, you already know the words.)

Hat number three doesn’t have a stem. Yet. I wanted the orange cast off this time before adding that.

A certain grandma looked at the calendar and guffawed at herself for having willed the visit with the grandkids to be weeks closer than in real life, so it looks like I’m going to put the add-ons on myself, ship’em off so they can have as much time as possible enjoying them, and let the kids negotiate where or if they want decorative parts changed or moved when we see them. And as for that third stem, I think I just didn’t want to do that really fiddly part while trying to listen to the speakers.

I am just a bit pumpkinned out for now. I’ll knit that last hat tomorrow.



Curled up or curled under?
Friday September 29th 2017, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

No bottom ribbing on this one. At least for now.

So I tried to do a three by three stitch cable across a fourteen-stitch stem, just to see how I could make it twist, and I don’t think I’d try it that way again. Still. It’s fun to play around and see what comes of it.

And then there’s always the inside-out version and the surprise at how much wider and straighter it is.

On to hat two.

 

Update: I posted this and then went, wait–did I drop a stitch in that stem? It’ll run all the way down. Rip. That’s okay, the top of the orange came out way too loose anyway.

Wait–did I skip closing the arches on the second needle that time? I did. Rip.

Okay, NOW it’s done. The top orange is tightened up a lot and the stem makes a lot more sense.

Update on the update, working on the next hat: suddenly realizing that oh wait. These two circs I’ve been working on. One is a seven. The other is an eight. They’ve been mismatched all along. (Finds another seven.)

Don’t tell on me.