Sunday August 20th 2017, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knitting a Gift,Life

1. Felt much better than yesterday.

2. Cowls: the navy merino/silk, the Malabrigo Mechita in Whales Road and in Pegoso, one of the two red/purple merino/cashmere with sparkles. (Hey, Sherry, your cashmere was well loved all over again.) Someone fairly new, whose story I don’t know but whom I don’t think I’d ever seen really smiling, broke out into all kinds of happiness at the latter–and that, I tell you, is what keeps those needles going.

The friend who’d hoped for aqua exclaimed over her Pegoso and when I said the yarn was handpainted, held it out a moment in wonder and asked, How?

I explained that they (or at least some dyers, I shouldn’t speak for all of them) lay the racetrack-shaped hank out and paint sideways.

She was fascinated by the repeats and the way adjacent stitches in different rows held the same color and just wanted to hold still and absorb it a moment.

3. Re the eclipse tomorrow, from an optometrist: There won’t be enough sun to hurt your eyes and force you to turn away to warn you that you’re still looking long enough to do permanent damage. She recommends you watch it on TV.

Me, what I find most interesting is watching the effects of an eclipse: how the light changes, how the shadows turn all sharp-angled, how the wildlife reacts. And, come to think of it, how much I’ll need a sweater on.

Also, hopefully, how empty the freeway will be (hey, everyone’s in Oregon, right?) while I go make a peach run to Andy’s.

Although–maybe after 11:37 when it’s over.

Playing musical chicken: BACH, a Bach a Bach a Bach a Bach
Saturday August 19th 2017, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

I woke up with just enough of a cold to have the oomph to quietly sit and knit most of the day. Richard (thank you!) did the grocery shopping; I turned on the music to get my fingers moving. (Richard pitched in on that too at one point, and we compared Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock vs CSNY’s.)

I never play yarn chicken.

Except I did. I was making this navy cowl from leftover dk-weight yarn and there was another small ball of it and I got to where I really kind of wanted to be done with this but I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied if I didn’t get to that seventh repeat–so I was kind of resigned to having to splice balls as it is. Hopefully not three stitches before the end.

It ain’t over till the fat chicken sings.

So I kept going. Got to the end of that seventh repeat that I’d thought the thing couldn’t possibly have in it, eyeballed the squiggles where the bottom of the ball had exploded, and proceeded with the cast off, tighter than usual.

Four and a third inches. That end with the bit of white still tied to it from when I wound the hank? Yeah. But wow. One for the ages. I will have to work the sewing needle through the stitches I want to pull the end through before I even try to thread it, but it will exactly do.

After dinner I picked up another cowl I’d started a few days ago in the exact shade of traffic-cone vivid-orange-red that most makes my balance go nuts. (Head injuries are so weird.) I’d gotten that yarn at an earlier Colourmart clearance, had overdyed most of it as planned, but had left some of it as is because I knew some people love it and I knew it was not something I would ever, ever pick up at a yarn store. Might as well let a bit of it be.

And that is the color skirt a friend was wearing to church last week. Alright, then, she’s next. (I will try *not* to tell her not to wear it near me–and I will also give her others to choose from when I surprise her, just to make sure, y’know, that she likes what she gets. Yeah that’s it.)

I’d found the needle size that that red almost-laceweight needed pretty small for my hands, and after the first diamond yesterday I put it aside and made the navy one today instead. Bigger needles, more comfortable, and if it worked up fast well that was to make up for the guilt from lack of follow-through on the other.

I held it in my hands. I looked at the bigger needle the blue had been on and felt tempted. Well, maybe I could work on this just a little bit after all right now first, y’know, space it out to a little a day, go easy on the hands while still getting stuff done.

Wait. How did that happen.


Wednesday August 16th 2017, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Iced my hands, took maybe longer of a break than I needed to so now it’s not finished.

If I type fast I might be able to get another repeat done tonight; I think it probably needs two.

Malabrigo Mechita in Pegaso colorway.

Mathias saves the day
Tuesday August 15th 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus,To dye for

The color of the sky, she said. That was her favorite.

I looked over the blues in my stash yesterday, and then again today, willing it to be there. I have some really nice yarns that were close but they just weren’t quite…they were my types of blues, not hers.

I could wind white yarn and haul around dye baths and wait for things to dry and hope I guessed right on amounts or I could go for a little more instant gratification. Besides, I hadn’t seen Kathryn in months and I missed her.

Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco was a hike, but: “Today you can do it–do it today,” I tell myself all the time and I wanted to get started and I wanted to see what Malabrigo had to offer these days (turns out she has a new shipment coming in soon, too) and if anyone in the area had the inventory it would be her. There. Talked myself into it. So off I went.

I wanted superwash for a young mom; she helped me find the most perfect colors of Malabrigo Mechita and I had myself envisioning an entire cowl finished by bedtime.

Yeah as if. But I got to meet her daughter! Too cool that hers is also named Sam–and that it was her birthday.

Came home to a robo-call to pick up my prescription before they returned it to stock. Fudge. That had definitely not been in the plan. Wound a ball of Mechita and headed back out into the early rush hour.

Hit the top of my head, hard, on the car at the pharmacy. Klutz. Had a quiet little freakout to myself over head injuries but seemed to be okay.

Still, it took me a couple of hours to pull myself and my sore head together and actually finally sit down and start knitting, and oh did it ever help. That sweet anticipation as beautifully dyed wool wrapped around wood, again and again and again as I pictured my friend’s face…

My phone buzzed.

Our Sam and her family are in Texas, visiting Mathias’s Great Grandpa. (Where our Alaskan born, on being taken outside into 100 degree heat, was initially stunned: what IS this?! Make it stop!)

After all the news of these past few days–weeks–months–it all comes back to that poster in my obstetrician’s office years ago: “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”

Baby giggles, or even just pictures of baby giggles. They make the world whole again.


Gotta give a little
Saturday August 12th 2017, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

(They’re not brownish in real life.)

The baby hat came out a perfect size 3-6 months. Size 5 needles, 80 stitches.

The cowl that I cast on this morning, same yarn, size US 6 needles, all of .25mm larger: 84 stitches.

They don’t look that much different width-wise. But the cowl stretches sidewise easily way out to here, and the hat, just barely. The cowl will be exactly what the recipient wanted, hugging her neck but with the stretch to collapse down and outward in folds (when I get done.)

But then the Pythagorean pattern is essentially ribbing done in diagonals, and ribbing is put in places where you need stretch. My friend wanted solid fabric and diamonds and stretch and this does it.

I don’t regret flubbing it the first time around: that’s one very soft hat.

My thanks to Sally for prompting the much-needed pattern idea for the cowl.

But I’m glad I did it
Friday August 11th 2017, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Splitty yarn, a stitch that tightens everything up on the too-small-for-my-hands needles, knit in a Venn diagram with one pair of circulars with too sharp a point for that splittiness and the other too ridiculously long for such a small project… Yesterday I simply avoided the whole thing altogether.

Today I vowed I was not going to bed with it still unfinished. It will look much prettier after a little water hits it, and I need to go ice my hands, but, I did it.

It took so little yardage, really, and the cashmere fabric is to swoon over. I’m just afraid it maybe came out too small (baby sizes chart here) for its intended recipient.

But I never have to knit on this one again.

Okay, I just doused it. As always, the stitches immediately relaxed, and you know what? I think it will be perfect for exactly whom it was meant for after all. (Even if that means surprising me later.) And it’s actually hat-shaped, too, so there.

One grousing. Gone poof.

Inside out
Thursday August 10th 2017, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Add one more fold to the brim with the hat turned inside out and it looks like this.

I realized just in time that I can’t mail it to Alaska quite yet–they’re in Texas visiting Great Grampa. Where the baby decidedly does not need a hat in August.

Blueberry and cranberry
Wednesday August 09th 2017, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Food,Knitting a Gift,Recipes

This version of blueberry clafoutis. Half a cup of sugar was plenty. Other than that, that’s the one I want to make again. (These are by far the best 8″ cake pans I have ever owned. Highly recommended.)

Meantime, just finished, another cowl in this pattern because it’s an easy one to widen out at the bottom so that it will ease into perfect folds around the neck without messing up the continuity of the lace within.

Rolling with it
Tuesday August 08th 2017, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Somebody learned how to roll over today and he was very very proud of himself.

Re the green hat: it matches the cute outfits sent by Aunt-by-love Phyllis but it did not get the spiked dragon tail I was going to knit winding around it and dangling off the end.

It occurred to me just in time what a great cat toy that would make Mathias’s head into.

Baby hat
Monday August 07th 2017, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

The beta went home tonight to the family that loves it best–and I will miss watching those beautiful blue-black fins and tail swishing through the water towards my hand as I drop a speck of fish food into its tank. It had a little rock cave to hide out in with a few aquatic plants attached but when I called softly to it it would come out of there and greet me.

Who knew such a tiny thing could be so charming?

Maybe they’ll go on vacation again sometime.

And then I finished knitting this. Maybe. I had been planning to add more to it–but I really like it as is, even with that edge not blocked yet.

Shepherd’s Worsted yarn from Lorna’s Laces. The colorway was a doodle, a one-off that was in a gift bag at a post-TNNA party held at Green Planet. The pattern was a doodle, too, five repeats of a short simple lace followed by ~6″ of stockinette and then decreasing and out.

The new family
Sunday August 06th 2017, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

That one’s done and drying and a new hat is on the needles, in the bright greens I got gifted with at Green Planet in January. Those colors just cry out for dragon spikes going over the top and claws over the ears but we’ll see.

Watering the tomatoes tonight, I stumbled across mama dove, papa dove, and a small baby peeking up from the nest, old enough for gray feathers and to watch me warily, its small tail slightly curled upwards against the wall. There might have been a second small head in there but I couldn’t get close enough to see for sure without disturbing them more than I was.

Carry on, then.

Type fast
Saturday August 05th 2017, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

And then maybe I can get another repeat or two done before bed.

The phone camera stopped at one picture so this will have to do for now, I’m in too much of a hurry to fuss with electronics. The yarn is two plies of deepest brown lace weight plied with two plies of a thinner turquoise lace weight, another cashmere mill end. 

Still deciding
Thursday August 03rd 2017, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

And then last night I cast on another cowl instead after realizing I needed a carry-around project.

I woke up this morning with the thought: today. Today I am going to finish that afghan. Two more repeats? Even three? I can do that.

Knit knit knit knit. First repeat finished by 10:30 a.m. Looking good but my hands need a break. 86 grams of yarn left.

Ice hands, wait an hour, knit another repeat–66 grams.

Ice hands, wait two hours, knit another repeat–46 grams. Looks like we have us a predictable pattern here.

My rule of thumb, staying on the safe side, is that the cast-off is going to take the equivalent of three regular rows’ worth of yarn. After a steady 2.5 grams per row, that means I need 7.5 g and the next repeat was going to end at 26. Six is not 7.5. I actually do have more of that yarn, just not prepped yet and the idea of making a join in that thick a yarn in the middle of the cast-off row, just, no, not if I can avoid it.

I iced my hands again and started in. It was pushing it a bit but I was going to keep that promise to myself.

Barbara Walker’s Fountain Lace logically ends a repeat after redoing the second row, and the purl row after that is when I’ve been measuring every time as my logical stopping point.

I knitted perhaps less loosely during that final repeat because part of me knew the afghan was long enough for me and for the wife but it might come up short for the husband’s toes (I haven’t actually met him, but it’s a safe bet he’s taller than my 5’5″) and I wanted it to work for everyone. I know it will lengthen the moment any water hits that lace, and I know I don’t know exactly how much, yet I love the slightly more three-dimensional look of it the way it is right now.

The final row 2, then purl row, and I weighed that ball one last time.

Twenty. Eight. Grams.

I guffawed and winced and stuffed the whole thing back into its ziplock and told it we were done. Done for the night, do you hear me. Done.

What would you do?

Break off the yarn, snap a picture
Wednesday August 02nd 2017, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Even though it’s only half cotton, I find alternating days I work on that afghan a good idea for the sake of my hands. That yarn feels like the cashmere it halfway is, but my muscles know it doesn’t have a lot of give to it. (It will be just over 500g when I’m done. I was surprised it didn’t take more.)

Or that was my excuse today, anyway, when somehow this happened. (Wait–didn’t I…? Skims through blog and checks.) I did, I made one very much like this a month ago, although that was more a brick–with sparkles!–and this is more plum red and plain. Cashmere, though. (Their pop-up if you click on their picture is the most accurate color on my screen.)

I don’t think either recipient will mind the twinship.

(Runs and blocks cowl. It took 59g and I have 97g left.) Alright then, let me go try to get in a repeat on that afghan now.

Just a few more hours
Tuesday August 01st 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift

This one is to make the parents happy, and whether they use it for the baby is up to them but I decided I wanted it long enough to curl over the mom’s feet during 3 am feedings, if nothing else, and that as long as that giant ball kept going so would I.

Three repeats done today to bring it to twenty-two before I broke out the icepacks. Two more to go and then that’s all there is.

I like having less left to do tomorrow than what I did today.

(I think. Wait, did I weigh that ball one repeat ago or two?)