Fourteen times 239 times two
Friday January 14th 2022, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Two days in a row of 3,346 little white boxes with a dot, an x, a slant / or a slant \ or a V or the like as my eyes move across the chart and my hands around the needles, count one two three, or seven, or seventeen. Starting in the morning, taking rest breaks, continuing on till the brain rebels: any other color! Any other thing to look at! Read words not symbols! You’ve already iced your hands once today, stop!

And so with those 6,692 stitches done I have 21,510 left to go, along with 2,390 of the final edging.

My brain is a busload right now of middle school kids taking a long ride to a field trip destination that the chaperones knew they’d signed up for for the good of the kids and so now they just have to put up with their singing, 23,900 bottles of beer on the wall, 23,900 bottles of beer! Take a stitch down, wrap wool around, 22,899 bottles of beer on the wall!

Yeah when it gets to that point you know it’s time to park the bus and call it a day.

Already a warm blanket on a chilly day
Tuesday January 11th 2022, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I love the texture of this, even if the cabling slows it down somewhat. It also makes the blanket denser and warmer: it takes, on average, about a third more yarn to make, say, a cabled Irish-type sweater than a plain, flat one–and that is why cheaper versions tend to leave the back boring straight-up stockinette stitch.


Seven repeats across plus the edging; the fifth 40-row vertical repeat is nearly done.

I had planned to do seven but may have enough yarn for eight.

And I wonder: why is it always easier to put more hours of a day into a project as it gets further along than at the beginning? Four and a half rows make an inch no matter where that inch is.

Actually, that’s not entirely true: as you add more wool and more weight, it seems to take more like four rows to get that inch to appear.

Row’ll on with the years and never stand still
Sunday January 02nd 2022, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

To be on the safe side because we were exposed to other people yesterday, we didn’t expose more other people to us today: we did church by Zoom.

Which means that during Sunday School I turned my camera off and picked up my needles that had ribbing and a few plain rows and made surprisingly good headway on the next random hat (thinking, and this is why I have a Malabrigo Mecha stash.) I did a bit more afterwards.

Then at 5 p.m. I had a knitting group by Zoom, and brainless patterns are definitely what you want while conversations are going on and you’re trying to read the captions–even when your heart is on that complicated lace-and-cables over there.

And so yet another plain beanie arrives in the world, needing the ends run in but otherwise ready to go. To… I’ll have to find out. But we woke up to 29F and deep frost this morning and someone out there badly needs some soft warmth on their head.

This Sunday hat thing could get to be a pattern.

What it was all about in the first place
Thursday December 30th 2021, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

After a day of distractions and things that got done that needed to but that were not knitting, I finally sat down and got a few long rows in on that afghan.

And was surprised at how joyful it felt. Any sense of work or long slog still to go or any of that just fell away and all that was left was, this is beautiful and she’s going to love it so much. So much. I can’t wait.

How now brown cow?
Thursday December 09th 2021, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus

It was the last of that jug of milk–it tasted off. I tossed it out, sorry I’d swallowed a swallow and hoping I wouldn’t get sick from it; at least it had been early in that process. I opened a new one.

It was the same.

I wondered if it was the brand/the cow/the feed or what and did those two come from the same place?

Today was the same, only something else tasted not quite how I expected and it hit me with a clue-by-four.

Propafenone HCL side effects, I googled, not sure I wanted to, sure I would find out things I didn’t want to know but I’m one who has to know anyway, so, yeah.

Black box warning? Not my first such. No grapefruit with it? I am definitely not going to cry, although I will miss lime added to things because lime has a lesser amount of the same substance in grapefruit that interacts with various meds. Oh wait that probably means I can’t try my ripening tiny Page tangerines: they’re a quarter grapefruit.

But what I also read is that for people with structural heart damage, the drug is more dangerous, and for people with supraventricular tachycardia, it seems to be definitely less so–and starting it early on in the disease before the muscle weakens is a good thing. (Ya think?) This is all according to Dr. Google, so take it with however much salt you like in your dish.

I had not realized how often how off the beaten track my heart had started to be. The improvement is a welcome relief.

Oh, and, re the knitting: does this kind of sort of look like a spinning dreidel to anyone else?

Seven and a half left
Tuesday November 30th 2021, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Called that one right.

The guy who chose the bright purple hat was the only one who was not here yesterday, but then the only one who was today. So I got a chance to ask him in private: did you pick that color to make someone else happy? And can I have you pick one for you?

His daughter, yes, and, YES!

So he got the Prussian Blue that had just come off my needles (bypassing its camera moment altogether.) I told him, Now to be fair, the others need to pick one for someone they love, too, and his face lit up in happy anticipation for their sakes as he told me he’d let them know.


Winding up, winding down
Monday November 29th 2021, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

This hat is now done, a dark blue one after it nearly so, there’s a multiple-browns skein waiting that needs to stop being in a hank so I can get to it next and the crew again got to watch me working away as they did, too.

The damaged board is gone, so are the telescoping metal temporary-support poles, and my awning is back in one piece looking brand new because some of it is.

But the one who’d chosen a hat in a color so as to put someone else above himself was not there today so no surprise round two happened. It may yet; I hope so, but if not I’ll be grateful for the incentive to get those done wherever they may end up.

The wood of the new siding is not down flush against the patio like the old was, and the guy went over with me all the other ways they had protected that part of the house from future rain (as I tried not to think how the original contractor should have done every bit of that.)

After four weeks, the trailer was full, the cover was pulled across the top for roadworthiness, it was hitched up to the pickup, and off it went towards the dump at long last.

The house looks so, so much better.

Still waiting on the new windows. Still waiting for the skylights to arrive. Still waiting for the exterior painting. Still, someday, the kitchen do-over and the 27-year-old vinyl floors and the driveway….

Still waiting for the new roof to happen.

Still waiting for the rain.

But it’s a start. We got a great start.

Worker beanies
Wednesday November 24th 2021, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Today, with Thanksgiving tomorrow, seemed a good time. Especially with one of them looking up at all the changes and saying with great satisfaction that our house was almost done.

But suddenly the two who were there most of the day and have done most of the work were heading from the back yard towards their cars, so on the other side of the house I stepped out the front door and after the one I could see from there.

He’s the one who shows up the earliest and often leaves last, determined to get more done.

Turns out they weren’t leaving yet, they were just putting a few things away, but what did I know. So let’s give them more to put away.

Romero’s face lit up, surprised, as I repeated my offer, holding out a ziplock crammed with colors. Whichever hat you would like.

He immediately went for the foggy blue-gray while telling me why. “I watched you make it!” (As I thought, Ah, I must have been working on that one while you were removing the nearby part of the awning. That sounds right.)

At that Armando stepped into view over by his car and I went oh there you are! and offered him his choice. He chose a fairly bright purple, and I never would have guessed that. Romero had followed me over towards his friend and put his blue-gray one on, showing off with the biggest smile.

The third guy, who has spent less time here, arrived a bit later and chose the Jupiter red. Armando, waving from the roof at that point, teased me that he’d like to pick one out too and I laughed.

It wasn’t till after they’d all left that the obvious hit me that his immediate reaction to my offer had probably been to pick one for his wife or his daughter he’s told me a little about, and that what he was really saying was, actually, he’d like to have one, too.

I can be slow at the wrong moments.

I’ll ask on Monday when they come back–if, but only if, I have an extra by then for all of them, so maybe that’s why I’d needed to be lagging on the uptake back there.

Said the woman who just dove into a new afghan project because I seem to be on a roll with those and even with the slow-going ribbing edging it’s already past 4″.

She finally got hers
Tuesday November 23rd 2021, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

It was starting to feel a bit silly to both of us–we were trying, but we kept missing each other, so I finally emailed Kat this picture of why I wanted to catch up with her. She had made me that glorious slab from our old tree, and as I put it, I wanted to redwood you back.

She was gobsmacked.

And so we set a time for the morrow.

I was walking towards her house and turns out she was walking towards mine, which so much captured the earlier email dance-and-misses and we both laughed at finding each other right there halfway.

I pulled it out of the tote so she could see it in the sunlight for real.

She did a small gasp. She loved it. I got to tell her why I did it how I did it. A little about Malabrigo–how their start-up mill burned down and they rebuilt using solar power and what good folks they are in person.

She loved the colors, she loved the memorial to that tree, she loves working with her hands herself, and said, We do the different ends of the spectrum–me with the wood and you with this softness.

She was very very happy with that softness.

She has two big dogs.

My late cousin John had had two big dogs.

I’d explained in the emails that I’d once made my cousin a handspun hand knitted afghan and his dogs had shredded it beyond repair, thus the zipped tote bag (yay for 60% off free shipping!) that was coming with this to store it in.

She wanted to know how long it takes to make such a thing. And then she asked me a question that was clearly only a part of what she’d been wondering: Do you knit, like, all the time?

Just about every day–as I quietly remembered that day when she’d showed up at my door and almost apologized because of the time lapse I knew nothing of between when she’d envisioned surprising me and when she actually did. Well, hey, wood has to cure for a year, doesn’t it? Seeing where she seemed to be going with this, I added, Except not always. Sometimes it just kind of leaves me for awhile.

Kat: And you have to find your inspiration, you have to have someone to do it for, right?

Me: YES!

She told me she’d often thought about selling her woodwork. And yet, and yet–she just got so much more out of doing it to give it and to share it.

I’d had no. idea. None. I’d had such a great friend around the corner all this time and would still not have known it had she not gifted me first.

I came away so intensely grateful that I’d listened to the muse that had insisted, You need to knit her a redwood and honey you really need to go big.

Plain old plain new
Friday November 19th 2021, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The blue and green ones on the bottom row were already done, the other three I did starting Wednesday. Not shown: a dark green with specks of lighter shades, Vaa colorway, that I cast on pretty much the moment the dark purple Dewberry one’s ends were run in–having previously searched for that skein, decided it must have been used up and gone on its way and oh wait there it is!

So someone who wants darker shades but likes green will be able to find something after all. It’s about 3/4 done.

Sometimes, you just have to knit a hat.

Meantime, the third member of Chris’s crew stopped by and I brought out the last of the cranberry bars, one for each of them. H. exclaimed, Is this your recipe? Can I have your recipe? This would be great for Thanksgiving!

I told him I’d written it down from a magazine in the pediatrician’s waiting room thirty years ago.

From an ad for Pam spray of all things. Who knew that that’s where I would discover my favorite cookie of all time.

Edit: and having written that, I just looked up Pam, found they have recipes but not that one, hit Contact Us and offered them their own recipe back because it’s made so many people so happy so many times.

Stretching up to the vanishing point
Monday October 25th 2021, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

For two weeks I woke up in the morning with the thought of don’t waste time before starting in on that afghan, you only have till the 31st, and spending the day all the way till bedtime alternating between knitting, thinking of knitting, resting my hands from knitting, and being grateful for the distraction from Stupid Things My Health Does.

I did, I got to start the atmospheric river blue above the San Francisco Bay fog line while said river was pounding away out there in the storm. I had wanted those times to overlap and they did.

This evening I glanced towards the lowering sun and decided to take a picture while there was still at least some natural light.

Kat had second-guessed herself and wondered if I would want hooks on the slab of my redwood she’d polished for me so that it could become a wallhanging. That made me wonder, as I was knitting, if I should make it possible for her afghan to be the wallhanging, and that became the plan.

I was going to knit a plain section at the top after the darker blue: to start it off by doubling the number of stitches, putting every other one on a holder, knitting a plain band twice the height of what you’d want in order to run a dowel through and then double-needle-binding-off it along with those held stitches at the back of the afghan. One horizontal pocket across, coming up!

But when it came right down to it during those last few rows? When I laid it out for this picture?


I will offer to add it, and if she wants me too I will in a heartbeat, just like she would have added hooks in a heartbeat, but for my eyes I’m going to leave it the way it looks best. Just like she did.

Edited to add: and after I laid it out a second time once it was finished and could only get bad photos with my 6S phone that I’m not going to besmirch all that hard work with by posting here, I finally found the stitch I’d been looking for. The one that was why I was missing one when counting out the center stitch for where the lace edging would meet up in the center at the top.

Can you see it in this picture? I didn’t either. I didn’t find it when I was knitting, either, no matter how much I looked for it, and I did.

I dropped it about the time I hit the tippy top of the tree. At the inner edge of the lace on the left. Probably when I put the thing down to run answer the landline.

So I grabbed a length of white yarn, looped through the one left hanging as if I were finally knitting it, connecting it where it should have been connected to and then ran the ends in along the back.

From the front you could never know. From the back, almost so.

That was close!

It feels so weird not to have this huge project hanging over my head anymore. It’s like, what do I even do with my needles now? I’d better decide quick because I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow and the next day and the cardiologist hasn’t even seen the monitor results yet as far as I know.

A Malabrigo Mecha hat is always a good and soft and warm and useful thing. But after nineteen skeins of the stuff in two weeks, um, let’s go try something else.

One and a half skeins to go out of nineteen
Saturday October 23rd 2021, 10:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Knitting a Gift

Our local forecast now says 2.73″ of rain tomorrow as the atmospheric river tries to play a game of Noah with us. That’s a huge amount for California and the biggest storm in two years. It’s badly needed.

And so it came to me as I knitted above the top of the redwood that I ought to memorialize that.

Which is why the section above where I’m working now, where I will repeat the lace pattern that frames the beginning and sides of this thing, will be done in Malabrigo’s London Sky, a lavender-ish blue. My skein is a nice deep shade of pouring rain.

The afghan is so close to being done.

Meantime, the last chocolate bars to be poured from the melanger are the most fun because you can swirl them and it shows better than the ones that were hotter coming out–but you can’t see the effects till they set. You have no idea what they’ll look like.

A whale mid-dive, a parrot looking askance back over its shoulder: Hey! No splashing!

Maybe I do too art, just a little
Thursday October 21st 2021, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

(Daytime photo that gets the colors right.)

Somehow, when there were only four pairs of branches done, it looked like a rib cage. The last one helps.

I wanted to give that sense of looking up and up and up that happens among redwoods and I think the angle and vanishing point help.

By the way, here’s a house that left me instantly smitten. Knit and watch the boats go by. Not too close nor too far down towards the shore and rising waters, but on a hill looking over the homes nearer in. Gorgeous. The fact that there are two painter’s easels set up tells me the people who’ve lived there have taken in that view with the eyes of an artist. I’d love to see what they’ve painted.

I’d be knitting it in no time. I imagine in less of a rush than this project and with more detail. All the time in the world.


Don’t ask me, I don’t know how to art
Tuesday October 19th 2021, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

49″ and ready to start the fifth set of branches. It’s getting there.

Then, for the fog rolling in as it comes over the coastal range every morning here, the question is do I seed stitch the transition between white and pale fog blue, alternating colors in a transition? Or long horizontal lines alternating and stacking irregularly? That sounds a whole lot easier to do than seed stitch in two colors, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s the look I want.

Or I could do the color change brutalist fashion like the earth tones below: it’s this color here and that color there. Bam. Done.

A good way to spend a day
Friday October 15th 2021, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Twenty-one rows and the start of the third set of branches, a trip to Andy’s Orchard where I got some of the last of the fresh figs of the season–SO good–and some dried Blenheim apricot slabs for my mom, and a visit this evening by friends bearing homemade goodies.

I went outside and cut a pomegranate off my tree and told them to come back for more later–they’re good now, but they’ll keep ripening and get even better.

I sent them home with a bunch of those figs, too, because they love them as much as I do and there were so many in that box and it would be criminal to have them not be enjoyed at their newest and best.

Meantime, I’m hoping the (already stratified) cherry seeds sprout that their son decided needed saving for me because the cherries I gave them from Andy’s were so good a few months ago. They haven’t yet. They’re in nature’s time zone. I’ll just have to wait.