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!

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.


Thursday September 28th 2017, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Finished the blue cowl, and after a trip to Cottage Yarns yesterday for some of Malabrigo’s Glazed Carrot merino, started one of several pumpkin hats to come.

(I think I’ll add a sideways 1×1 two-colored brim at the bottom afterwards–this one’s coming out big brother sized, not little sister sized.)

Looking for jack o’ lantern motifs tonight, I stumbled across something I’d never heard of. Richard, looking over my shoulders, figured out on the spot how to write a program to have your yarn machine-dyed to do this, to which I said, But she actually thought it up–and she actually makes this: self-striping sock yarn that knits up into jack o’lanterns. (Ravelry link.) And sushi. And snowmen, complete with scarf. The ones I like most appear to be sold out for now, but AbiGrasso (link to her own site) does fabulous work and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Meantime, back to the Halloween motif. With four to do I can learn as I go. For the first I’m knitting it with wide ribs and in plain orange: I can make face pieces separately, run the ends through to the inside, tie loosely behind the scenes and make it so they can undo the ties and pull the facial features off come November first to be all ready for Thanksgiving. So they can use them for more than a month. (The thought hits) –actually– I could make a bunch of pieces and let them have fun creating faces and then run the ends through for them or stitch them on so that they can be part of creating their own hats. Hey. I like that!

(New photo added at 10:15 pm.)

More of that same blue cashmere
Monday September 25th 2017, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

It took me till after dinner to settle down, choose just one yarn, and start.

But then after overdoing it yesterday, my hands needed that bit of a break.

Odd ball
Sunday September 24th 2017, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I waited till the two newly-near-sisters were standing together with their folks when I pulled the hats out–and got to watch the girls’ eyes go big. I had apparently managed exactly what they’d hoped for (and no yellow!)  I told them if anything wasn’t perfect, please tell me and I’d be happy to make another because this was about having them love what they got.

They were very, very happy and grateful and there were hugs and you knew they now knew they had an adult who thought the world of them who didn’t have to. Because just because.

Beige cowl: that young mom was off on a trip with her mom but her husband was there with the (not quite a baby anymore) and a backpack and it definitely had room for cashmere to make his wife happy, and yes, she wore that shade all the time. He’d had no idea this was coming.

Later I saw one of the hat recipients trying hers on his toddler’s head and loving how cute she looked in it. (Maybe I have enough yarn left in that ball to… Maybe. I might not so I didn’t say anything.)

The bright blue: exactly went with the dress of a woman who recently moved here, doesn’t know many people yet, is tied down with a new baby and has a lot of changes and adjusting to do all at once. It was a treat to see her face and her husband’s completely light up–and they stayed that way.

The purple didn’t quite find its spot yet and came home for now, but two green ones left the purse and didn’t come back.

The reject yarn from my first attempt at ordering self-striping? One of the two skeins bit the dust after church, mostly because I wanted to keep up the momentum. Two feet to spare when I declared it good enough and done. It was literally an odd ball as far as my eyes were concerned but someone will love it.

And then I can tell those girls that having to re-order to get the colorway right worked out perfectly after all.

Productive week
Saturday September 23rd 2017, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

When I said I had two weeks to do those two color requests? It wasn’t till this morning that it suddenly hit me, Wait–General Conference is next week! Women’s Conference is today, not the General–the first full weekend in October, not one split down the middle with September. Oops.

And so I sat down at ten a.m. and cast on the beige I’d been avoiding (boring…) and was determined to have it done even if I hadn’t given myself a whole lot of time to do it in. The green/orange/yellow request will get shown a green one and green/orange/yellow/blue yarn and get to choose stripes-to-be or the solid that is ready to go, but I had to have L’s ready, too.

Hey, said my fingers as the number of stitches gradually piled up. Cashmere definitely makes that nice, calm color feel wonderful. (Thank you Colourmart mill-end sets.)

I kept at it and kept at it and knitted some more during that one women’s session and now all it needs is to be dry in the morning. I might help it out with that after I finish typing this.

I ran in the ends on all these and two other projects that hadn’t happened on: all ready to go now. Not sure why I so often procrastinate that part.

Those hats, though. I am really really looking forward to seeing those girls happy. 

Falling leaves in September
Friday September 22nd 2017, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Because someone will need a cheerful blue one. (It’s blocking now and no longer looks like a Sorting Hat wannabe.)

Yarn: a surprise gift from Melinda of Tess Designer Yarns a couple years ago, multiple shades of a soft blue merino laceweight that I knitted together for instant gratification.