Superwash fine merino is a parent’s friend
Monday April 24th 2017, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Malabrigo Rios. Just plain stockinette, so the sides are curling in until I can get them sewn to the other side.

Newborn sizes do knit up fast. My hands needed lots of breaks today and yet I still got the back done and the front begun. Five inches past the cuffs when it’s time for the sleeves? I can do that.

I was by no means sure I had enough yarn for cable work. Plain is warmth enough this time around.



All part of the Sublime
Sunday April 16th 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

And more amaryllises opening up.

So there was the woman at church I don’t know well but I wish I did, whom a worried friend told me was suffering from depression these days.

I kept an eye out for her last week and quietly noted the dress she was wearing: close to the color of that blanket I just finished (of which there is no more yarn.)

It was a cheerful color, and that can only be a good thing.

I knew I had a lighter shade that would go well with it–and not only that, it was the last of my stash in blue of the discontinued Sublime yarn made of pearl chips dissolved into a rayon with a high-quality bamboo. It is as soft and shimmery and warm as a good silk while being hypoallergenic; it is, literally, a string of pearls.

I’d just moved those two skeins to…somewhere…a few days before. I had actually had them in my hands before that conversation with that mutual friend. Where on earth had I put them?

And thus a highly frustrating week, knitting-wise: I wanted to make a cowl for her before Easter Sunday and I could not for the life of me find that yarn. And it’s not like there were so many (normal) places to look, either. I could have just given up and done something else, and almost did, but for the absolute certainty that that was the yarn I needed it to be. It just was. And I didn’t want to start something else for someone else and get sidetracked.

I finally found them Saturday. How on earth had they ended up in a ziplock with a wool sweater? Hello, brain? There was no way I was going to get it done, or even very far along before Easter services, but at least I got it cast on and a few rows so she could feel the fabric it would be making.

I put it in a ziplock in my purse  for the morning, along with a green cowl just to make sure and to let her have a choice–or something else altogether if she wanted, say, pink polkadots. It would be for her to decide.

I invited her to sit by me a moment after the first meeting and showed her, apologizing that the blue wasn’t ready. When I offered her an infinity of hypotheticals as well as those two choices she was exclaiming, Oooh, the blue!

When I mentioned her dress of last week, and how I didn’t know if it was her favorite or somethingshejustgotonsalebecauseIvecertainlydonethatormaybeshereallylikedthatoneor

She laughed and interrupted with, “That is my FAVORITE dress. I spent a long time looking for just that.”

I told her about the actual pearls made into the yarn and how it had demanded that it be the one I knit for her, even when I couldn’t find the silly things (at the same time, I had needed to be sure it was what *she* wanted.) So she would just have to wait till next week to get it.

She loved it. She was blown away. She was very happy about the whole thing and can’t wait to see it finished.

And it wasn’t till later that the obvious hit me: y’know? When you’re depressed, having something you’re looking forward to while you know someone’s looking out for you–that’s not a bad thing. That anticipation is not a bad thing at all. And it’s much more important than my need had been to just go get this done and out of the way so I could move on to something else. The longer I’d searched the more my focus had shifted away from, where is that yarn! To an even greater sense of, Please, G_d? I want this to happen–for her sake…

Glad I lost it. Glad I found it.



Stealth knitting
Thursday April 06th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Someone happened to say something about someone she was worried about and with that sense of freedom that comes with having just finished a big project, even the ends run in, suddenly I knew I had to interrupt the queue: “A cowl wouldn’t take too long. What are her favorite colors?” Clearly this needed to happen.

The mutual friend was blown away, and came away going, I need to knit. I need to take lessons from you. I need to learn to knit!

I grinned that I’d be happy to teach her.

Meantime she’s got some sleuthing to do. She’s right on it.



Why kitchen scales are essential
Tuesday April 04th 2017, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

So the net went down and the knitting needles went up. (Fixed by the resident geek when he got home so here I am.)

A pattern repeat takes an ounce of yarn and out of my three big skeins I have about half an ounce left, so that’s that. Cast off tomorrow and the Little Boy Blue baby blanket is done.

(It’s so weird to have to delete enough emails from my gmail account to get my iPhone to be willing to take pictures again, I mean, whodathunk? The resident geek is who. Okay, I’m working on it.)



Game on
Monday April 03rd 2017, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

What on earth!?

It was a black squirrel, highly visible against the white floral background, twirling hard around and around a branch of the sour cherry and in the process stripping it of the flowers that had opened this morning. How that branch was even strong enough to support it I do not know.

I stomped towards the door yelling words I would only barely let my mother hear me say and went after it. It scrambled for the fence, its mouth stuffed to overflowing with cherry blossoms. Lots and lots of cherry blossoms. It would have been funny if it hadn’t been my future fruit.

The tent, which I’d taken off for yesterday’s picture and then thought, eh, they leave it alone, I don’t need this do I?–is back over that tree now with bird spikes around the base as far as they can go.

Now I know why the flower stems looked chomped off on the Stella cherry when I’d successfully coppered the snails away from its base.  It took those things four years to decide to taste them but then they did.

A few hours later, a black squirrel walked at just enough of a distance around that cage. Looking back at me. Hanging its head. Taking another step. Stopping and looking at me, lowering its head again. Then, unable to resist one more second, it sniffed upwards wistfully towards those flowers and then swung its head back towards me. My eyes narrowed and I was watching its every move and it knew it.

It slunk away. Slowly, regretfully, back up that fence and towards the redwood.

I added hot pepper flakes.

And then after dinner I clipped a red amaryllis stalk, put it in a vase, and took it next door to my wonderful neighbors of thirty years. (To, y’know, counter my crazy squirrel lady thing at least a little bit and who doesn’t need unexpected flowers, right? But no, really, because I had a lot coming up at once and they’re too good to hoard.)

Good times.

(Three more pattern repeats left on that blue blanket… Maybe four. I think.)



The absurd with the Sublime
Friday March 24th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

There was a little left of the second skein of Sublime pearl/bamboo tonight but not enough to be absolutely sure I could do another repeat–besides, it’s at seven and the eye is satisfied with groupings in odd numbers and oddly dissatisfied at even-number ones and I knew that trying for nine, there was just no way; I cast off.

It fills up. It drains. It won’t agitate and it won’t spin, it just growls. You know you’re a knitter when your first reaction to finding out the washing machine just broke is, but then how on earth am I supposed to spin this out after I rinse it so it can be dry by the morning?! How am I supposed to block this?!

On the other hand, I have a bright blue cowl done in cashmere, silk, and baby alpaca yarn I’d plied on the wheel and I know she loves that color, too. The practical side says I think we’re good.

But the part of me that made that avocado one just for her wants to tuck it into my purse and offer to switch her if she’d rather. I’d better go get those ends run in to give myself the option, if not her. (Edited to add, oops, scratch that, it’s not that one it’s the 66/34 cashmere/cotton one. Still good.)



Pearlescent
Thursday March 23rd 2017, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

It suddenly needed to be knitted, like, yesterday.

After all those afghans, it was amazing how fast 100 stitches of slippery yarn go around and around; it’s a bit splitty, so the blunt needles are exactly on point.

I’ve had a few skeins of this for awhile, waiting for the right person to knit pearls for. Truly: it is made from the chips from rounding off off-kilter pearls for jewelry. Soft, lustrous, warmth in my hands that anyone could wear in any weather.

It’s very much not my color but it’s what it came in that was still in stock–it was expensive to manufacture and was discontinued quickly. Now that I know where it’s going, the color is perfect. It will be treasured.

My phone is refusing to take its picture even after I deleted old ones. You don’t mind waiting till tomorrow to see it, do you? I knitted till pretty late.



Build-a-nest kit
Friday March 17th 2017, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

It looks bigger if you gather it round like the curve of the needles. I’m on the second of three eight-ounce balls. As long as it beats the baby here it’s all good.

I was about six ounces into it a few days ago when I realized that the pattern I’d picked and what I was actually knitting don’t look like they have any connection, because I… And then I kept… How did I not see that I… Eh. So it’s unique.

Meantime, a full month behind the Bewick’s wrens doing this, the chickadees (ours are the chestnut-backed variety) dove into the dog fur today again and again and again all day long, at one time managing to lift what looked like an entire pile–briefly, and I wish the camera had caught that millisecond. No way, and it put most of it back for now. It was comically wobbly heading off.

In Alaska, where the forecast is zero degrees tonight and warm wool a good idea, our daughter reported that her cat cuddled up next to her–but was then flummoxed that her stomach was kicking it.



Giving us the birds
Wednesday March 15th 2017, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life

My baby Parfianka Pomegranate, the two-year-old Indian Free peach, and the yearling Baby Crawford that’s too young to let fruit but whose flowers will serve the other nicely.

And the first 8 oz skein of Washington Circle Worsted, done. (I might be able to squeeze one last row out of that.)

Two days of having the net down except for a few brief blips made for lots of knitting time. Also icing of hands.

As I was walking around the yard this evening, trying to capture these trees being young and small (or not so small in the case of the IF), I was surprised to see chunks of dead wood on the ground over there near the kids’ old climbing tree.

I don’t know if I have a photo for real or just in my head, but, when our kids were young the two older ones threw a long hose again and again up and over one of its upper branches (before it grew too big) and improvised their own swing out of it. Never mind that we had an old swingset at the time; this was way more fun. Because they’d made it. In a tree. Be like a bird. It was a playground unto itself in their childhoods.

As they got older and more in need of their individual spaces we added a bedroom too close to that tree and it gradually grew over it. Richard and I quite a few times heard the thud in the night of a raccoon dropping off a branch and landing overhead and ambling around, with paw prints in the morning across the bathroom skylight like a two-stage verification process.

And then there was that notable year when the nocturnal black beetles that favored that type of tree dropped down through the heating vent and landed on my head at night. This was before we found out there were breaks in the heating system up there that gave them that pathway from the tree. OUT!!!

And so we cut that side of the tree off, and I would have told them to take it all–but Richard remembered the climbing tree days and he couldn’t quite bear to erase the thing.

Alright, so at least we got it away from our bedroom.

There is a big knot hole where one of the larger branches was taken out.

Between it and the house is where I found those chunks of dead wood.

When we bought this house, the sellers had cut down two white-fly-stricken Modesto ash trees (the third lived seven more years) leaving stumps about eight feet high. Why, we did not know–till we found we had woodpeckers nesting in the cavity just below the v-shaped top of one of them.

Richard was the first to notice it. And that the parent birds never flew directly to it; they zigzagged here and there, mostly over in the tall still-living tree next to it, before dashing into the hole at the last–where, from a respectful distance, the tall guy could put our children on his shoulders one by one to see the parents feeding their babies.

When we added on that bedroom, those stumps, very regretfully, had to go.

And now, around the corner on the other side of that room… There’s a hole gouged out that’s angled sharply down. I’m again not quite tall enough to see into it.

But there are thicknesses of leaves of the still-living tree directly above for the parent birds to catch bugs in and zigzag to their hearts’ content through.

He’s right. The tree stays. Or at least the bottom seven or eight feet of it, after nesting season is over.



Forget the knitting, hey, look! A pretty peach tree!
Sunday March 12th 2017, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

The Indian Free has started blooming on the side of the tree towards Adele’s yard. I could have pruned more of those smaller branches out but everything fills out fast on that tree, it being a standard rather than a semi-dwarf, and I wanted the lower ones to grow just over the fence rather than having only the upper ones left which could end up towering high out of the neighbors’ reach. I want it to grow a lot more out than up. I’ll adjust it as it goes along.

Wildflower ground cover: oxalis.

A Cooper’s hawk landed in the middle of the fence this afternoon. There was a squirrel at either end of that fence, one standing still, one lying down, and neither seemed to know quite what to do–reminding me that the average lifespan of a squirrel in the wild is a single year. They’ll learn to be afraid of it soon enough.

The one lying down thought about it a moment and stood up with its legs stretched upwards rather like a cat, facing the hawk. It was an odd thing to do.

The hawk was not a juvenile. It was a male. Whether it was my Coopernicus who’s been around these last eight years or so I don’t know but observations will tell. The hunting pattern has definitely been different; he likely had a shoulder injury from sideswiping the window screen and learned to compensate by driving his prey into the windows to stun them. There have been very few window strikes this year–but then, I’ve mostly been seeing juvenile Coopers.

Knitting: I worked on Nash’s stocking and ripped it right back. I know how to fix a miscrossed cable, just, I didn’t do a very good job of it and rather than spend any more time fussing over it it was only four rows down so there you go. Rip.

Back to the receiving blanket.



That was cold…
Saturday March 11th 2017, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Dear? The milk is… (swish swish swish) crunchy??

(Adjusting the fridge control from arctic to iceberg lettuce.) Well, that’s one way to get a taste of winter in California.

Meantime, here’s the cowl, dry now, as requested.

It’s been two whole weeks since I bought Karida’s bright, deeply saturated blue superwash merino at Stitches–the Washington Circle colorway–and it got to me at last and I started the receiving blanket I’d bought it for. We’ll call it the carry-around project by way of excuse, or at least while it’s still small, but I had to at least get it begun. It would not let me be till I did.

It is somehow a surprise (and not) that there are only two months left before we’re due to meet the little guy. And in Alaska, even in May, he’ll need a blanket that’s just his size.

 



It’s, um, big.
Sunday March 05th 2017, 12:00 am
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

What those letters needed was to be squooshed together a bit.

What cable work does is to decrease the width by about a third. I was afraid cabling directly below would ripple the nameplate area, but the only thing to do was to find out.

The nameplating took 27 stitches, which neither four nor eight divide into,  so I threw a p1 k1 p1 at the center. Hey! I like that! Chipper by the dozen and away we go.

Honeycomb across the back, because that is the predominant pattern in the sweater my mom made my dad as we slowly drove around the entire country the summer I was ten (Maryland/Texas/Mexico/California/Canada and every national park between, and home again); I coveted it enough to learn to knit that trip. I put honeycomb into my own husband’s sweater years later as a particular I-love-you.

Okay, so, 9″ long, 7.5+” across with most of the first skein done, both densely knit (to help hold stuff in) and able to stretch (oh goody, all the more goodies) because of the ribbed dividers. I’m thinking another 9″ down, proportionately, at least, but I’m totally making it up as I go along.

And it occurred to me as I was knitting. Y’know… We could do a hat and the stocking both at once. You want that name right side up, right? Doesn’t have to be at the bottom of his head, right?

Alright then: given that it’s got plenty of give right now to wear as a hat, finish the entire stocking, turn the bottom half inside out going upwards, tuck the foot into the space between the now-outside NASH part and the inside liner part that is the lower half of the leg of the thing, and tadaah! A really strange but warm hat. Bounce around in that awhile and you’ll be foot: loose and fancy, freed.



Back back back
Friday March 03rd 2017, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

And back some more. While it looked like random sprinklings of color I forgot the H. Rip again. It took me the afternoon to get a half dozen rows done while I figured out what I was doing/designing/too many choices. Aran sweater style, okay, so I increased in every third stitch to have the width match the ribbing all the way down (that was probably too many but no kid is going to complain that his Christmas stocking is too big.) This pattern sequence to fit that many stitches on the needle. Got it.

After five tries I was finally on my way. The woman who can’t follow charts tried to follow a chart, the eight designated rows mysteriously became ten, and the end result is that I am definitely going to embroider on an extra white stitch at the upper bottom left of that S so it doesn’t look like it’s tripping over itself like I do.
So yes, I wrote his name upside down and backwards after all.

If I don’t like how the duplicate-stitching comes out I’ll rip it back through two-thirds of the name; the mid-lines across the A and the H don’t line up because I forgot, from that angle, that the A needed one. That is not of itself enough cause to rip.

We’ll see how fresh eyes perceive it in the morning.

Oh, and? Since it was done in the round there had to be a new strand of white at the beginning every row. I halfway solved this by leaving the end so long that there was no question but that it would be enough for the next time across, and so I had half as many ends to weave in afterwards as if I’d started with a whole new strand every single time.

Edited: done. Oh that’s much better. One stitch.



Tip-toe
Thursday March 02nd 2017, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Yesterday’s project. Classic Elite Chateau, 70/30 baby alpaca/bamboo, one impulse skein from Green Planet. It came out a little generous for a hat so I made it a cowl instead.

We just got word that we were exposed to viral meningitis Sunday. The person who came down with it is a whole lot sicker than either of us–she ended up in the hospital. But she’s home now and I wish her a speedy recovery and am extremely grateful she went in in time.

(Pardon me while I selfishly go YOW a moment, hoping we dodged that one.)

So. I got started on a Christmas stocking for a cousin’s teenage son who wished he had one like his brothers; theirs had been knit by their Nana before she died whereas he hadn’t been born yet.

I was being pretty pleased with myself at how that ribbing at the top looked and I started counting stitches per letter to start knitting in his name.

And suddenly realized I would have to knit them upside down and backwards. Yes, I could figure it out. Not tonight. My brain is done for the day.

It actually would fit as a hat and I’d been thinking all along that it would be fun to surprise his mom as well as him with a set like that. I have plenty of yarn.

I think I need to find me a good toe-up sock pattern but I’ve only ever done them top-down. Any suggestions of what I should know first?



Look, Ma, no needles!
Monday February 27th 2017, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

I already ran the ends in as I went, and yet I still felt like I couldn’t cut them off till I ran them in some more. Especially with the inquisitive little baby fingers soon to come its way.