Made my day
Sunday February 18th 2018, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I put down the afghan and came over to the computer to try to figure out what to write about tonight and an email had just come in: Jerry and Vivian, with her saying she’d stolen one of his hats for the picture that they were posing for.

With the most radiant smiles.

I tell you.

I described to them what Stitches West was, that it was this coming weekend, and to let me know what colors or fibers they’d like next and I’d be right on it. And I wished they could see how big the smile was on my face too right now.



Springing forth
Saturday February 17th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

Progress.

Meantime, the blueberry flowers look like pale blueberries, the first two Santa Rosa plum blossoms opened today (that’s the mango tree under the frost covers for the night in the distance), and the August Pride peach, which spent last year in curl-leaf-disease survival mode, is in sparse but full bloom, giving it its all.



Two-thirds
Thursday February 15th 2018, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Yay for the postal employee yesterday who checked that zip code before letting my package go into the system: I had two numbers transposed. The rest of the rather unusual-sounding address was a match so it was clearly going to the right place now.

I drove home after Jerry’s two hats went on their way feeling grateful beyond anything I could begin to say that I could do something that could actually help–what do people do who don’t knit?–and I pictured their surprised faces as they opened the box. I really should make the whole family matching hats in solidarity with their dad, but, at least there’s a start.

Then I dove back into the waiting afghan.

Early last week I was at eight repeats and wanted sixty and I was fighting the sense of, how could this ever be done?

So just do it. After nearly seven hours’ work on it today I hit forty. (I am alternating typing with icepacking.) My yarn planet has gone from Saturnine to Martian, with Pluto a little too wishful thinking quite yet but I am going to have to scour more off the cone soon. That’s a very good problem to have.

Like the hats I just wish, really really wish, I could deliver it in person when I’m done. Which won’t be too long now.



Brown, blue, what else do you knit for a guy?
Sunday February 11th 2018, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

As of just now there is a second soft, washable wool beanie (Bobby Blue to go with the previous Stonechat brown mix) to mail to my friend with the massive skull scar curving widely from the top of his head and halfway down  in front of his ear. The good news is that it was a slow tumor, and there are treatments in trials for curing it. They couldn’t get it all, but they believe they bought him plenty of time before they have to face it again and there is great cause for hope. Thank you for all your prayers and good thoughts Jerry’s way.

The best news is that he feels completely himself again with it gone, and that was no sure thing going in.

(Note to self: Malabrigo Rios, size US6 needles for the body of the hat, 80 stitches was the right number in stockinette. I considered doing cables but thought, nah, he doesn’t need the extra warmth where he lives. He just needs not to look quite so Star Wars bar scene-ish while his incision line gradually recedes.)



Stitches pre-Stitches
Saturday February 10th 2018, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

The rest of the Tropic Snow peach flowers have opened and the tree is just glorious.

I had to wind, scour, and let dry the next 300+ grams of the coned afghan yarn, having run out of what was ready, so knitting-wise I had a day or two on my hands.

Thus this cowl of long-hoarded Handmaiden’s Camelspin came to be. Lovely stuff, from lovely people, made mostly of silk and it puddles just so (lack of selfie skills notwithstanding.) Nova Scotia was the colorway, if I remember right, and there’s a bit more green to it than shows here.

I really, really like this. I really like even more anticipating surprising the person it’s for.

There’s enough yardage left from the one ball that I could make a second cowl, and it wouldn’t have to be too much smaller.



Cashmere and cotton
Friday February 09th 2018, 12:13 am
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I had this afghan I needed to make that I’ve mentioned from time to time for several months now.

The first try ended up being cast off and declared a scarf–spending more time on its yarn was not making me like it better. Done.

The second try got started but was put aside while I tried to decide if I wanted the lace to be a great big border around a drawing in knits and purls of the recipient’s house. Which I have never been to. And which I didn’t know how to ask for a picture of without having to explain why I wanted it–when simply continuing the lace would make a perfectly fine blanket. I dithered. Which means I stopped.

Aside from an hour here and there, which gradually, naturally answered the pattern question, it got put aside again for all the Christmas knitting: ten hats, who knows how many cowls, things that all had a definite time limit–while the afghan reproached me. I’m not good at having multiple projects on the needles but it was just too much to try to get that big one done and out of the way first.

I took it with me to a knitting group get-together Tuesday morning to make myself really dive back into it at long last, but as it dangled from my circs, it was inwardly embarrassing that another knitter couldn’t instantly peg it as an afghan and it made me determined to get it at least to where it was obvious what it was, fast. It was long overdue.

Today, after three straight days of putting my all into it, it is nearly half done and after all this time that feels just unbelievable, and very encouraging.

Part of what happened was I realized I did have a deadline after all: Stitches West. It’s only two weeks away and you know there are going to be new toys that I’m instantly going to want to play with. Anticipation is way more fun–and I’ve finally found that place where there’s great anticipation in this afghan, too. It’s gotten really pretty. I can’t wait to give it to where it’s going.

 



For Suzi
Monday February 05th 2018, 12:06 am
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

Walked into Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco Friday, and just inside the door was one single skein left among the other colors of Malabrigo laceweight baby alpaca/silk.

“That’s exactly what I came for!” I exclaimed to Kathryn. Archangel. Perfect!

I had some cashmere, red plied with a nearly tan off-white, a bit thinner than I wanted to work with. The silk content with the alpaca wasn’t so high as to make the strand snag and slip out if I knitted these two together but it definitely added a sparkle, and the mostly-salmon colorway bridged the colors in the cashmere.

The fabric they made is SO soft.

I knew before I started this morning who it’s for: a woman who is generous in every way, so her cowl needed to be, too. It came out a good size, and I ended it with a right-side row of yo, k2tog across (and then a purl row before casting off) to let the bottom edge fan out just a bit without having it sag or to have to add anything more than that. I wanted to be able to call it a night with a sense of accomplishment to the day.

Suzi was wearing something today that exactly matched this. Nice. Not that she knows that yet.

Nine repeats across and seven repeats down on size 8US later, it is drying.



Redwood hat
Saturday February 03rd 2018, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

(Photo from Richard’s phone, since mine’s still on strike. It embiggens.)

I started to cast on with something else, but a ball from stash that I had not seriously considered got louder and more insistent with each stitch till I ripped the other off the needles and started again with this one. Why yes, my yarn is the boss of me.

Each row of Malabrigo Rios in the beautifully-named Stonechat was like a slow drive through an old redwood forest,  glimpses of light peaking through the quiet shades of brown.

And then there are the near-black stitches popping up here and there.

Redwoods can be hit by lightning and catch fire, as any tree might–but unless it gets to the canopy, the tree itself, I was told by a park ranger when I was a teen, gradually puts that fire out, even if it smolders for months. The flames simply don’t take them down.

The Stonechat was right. It was definitely the right yarn.

Note to self: size 6US needles in the body and 84 stitches. Kept to beanie length because it’s to cover the surgery scar on Jerry’s head rather than purely for warmth, given where he lives.



The pinwheel toy
Friday February 02nd 2018, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

She loves orange, she told me last June. And blues. I didn’t have much orange in my stash–but I had this old ball in Lisa Souza’s Joseph’s Coat colorway.

I found the pictures. They were taken at night and by the bright light of day and the cowl was mostly somewhere in between, and maybe some of you remember it. I sure do. It came out so unexpected.

It started off with all the colors kind of melting together into an almost-purple, but then when I added a few stitches to widen it it changed the whole thing abruptly: individual colors stood out on their own and became like the brightest sunrise against the darkest clouds. I expected them to go back to how they’d been after I added a few more but they simply formed a new pattern altogether yet that continued off the second one.

No matter its quirkiness or even faults, of the three, this was the one she wanted to take away as a memento of the years they lived here.

I heard the news.

She’s a young mom.

Whose husband is now fighting a brain tumor.

That which they had gauged their plans by was suddenly thrown to the winds and what they are going through now is radically different from anything they’d wanted or expected. And yet there he is in his hospital picture, smiling, same as always.

In a hospital cap.

He needs a soft handknit one, stat. Even in San Diego.

If you feel inclined to say a pray or to Think Good Thoughts in Jerry’s direction and his family’s, it would be lovely. The G_d that I believe in honors either as love: and love is what we are sent here to learn and do.

May that great Love sustain them through all that lies ahead.



Baby Nicholas
Wednesday January 31st 2018, 12:02 am
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

My sister’s son and his wife had a baby at Thanksgiving, and they were flying to, you guessed it, Salt Lake City from Atlanta that same week to show off the baby to her dad. We so wanted to see them and to meet their little boy but the overlap time on our trips was tight.

We got up early (our time) Friday morning and hoped that the rush-hour traffic would allow them to make it.

They showed up late and apologetic because the baby had soaked through his clothes just as they were leaving…

We chuckled. Hey. Babies’ superpower is wrecking your walking-out-the-doors.

And so we got to meet her dad, who was driving them to the airport, and to spend about fifteen minutes together. I surprised them with a soft wool hat. (Color in link.) Washable, because hey, I remember what it’s like. (My daughter said her nine-month-old, while his diaper was being changed last week, managed to spray himself in the face rather than them and was quite outraged at the indignity.  Clearly, washable hats are all the more the way to go.)

It is amazing how much living can cram its way into fifteen finite minutes. It was a privilege to see the two of them so happy in their new parenthood as their wide-eyed little one took in the new faces and scenery around him before being whisked off to the crowds and the skies and at last, home.



David
Tuesday January 30th 2018, 12:07 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Knitting a Gift,Life

We are home today. So let me first tell you one story that was not from the funeral.

My cousin David was flying in to Salt Lake City and was going to be playing piano at our aunt’s house. Now, when I say piano, you have probably never heard someone who can play like he can. I’m quite serious. And that house was built by our grandfather and concert-pianist grandmother so as to bring out the best in the music.

He invited all the cousins to come who could and offered to accompany them for anything they might want to sing or play. David being the one who, as a teen, would spend two hours on public transit to watch a show on Broadway, two more hours to come home, and sit down at the piano and play every piece he’d heard note-perfect. And now he’s a professional composer and musician in New York.

It just so happened that our trips to Salt Lake were happening on the same weekend.

I showed up late, with apologies; the funeral and family reunioning afterwards had gone into overtime and I had needed to be there, too. (Richard, grieving his father, decided on one-on-one time with my dad, who was not up to going to that, too, while I went to the concert. My mom was already there.) There were lots of people and lots of chairs set out but I saw none that were empty and simply plunked myself on the floor by the door. No biggy. It’s about the music and the people, not about the seating.

Aunt Joyce stopped David (who could not see me from behind a wall) between pieces and motioned over to me: there was an empty chair over here for me, and here, let’s set up more over near the kitchen for any other latecomers. Which were indeed put to use.

Now, there were several rows to the right where she was and then there was this one single chair forward of everybody else and kind of in the musicians’ faces. And that’s where they put me. Close to the piano, close (and almost in the way of) the vocalists. At least two of whom sing professionally on Broadway and, wow. Sitting there was like I had my old hearing back.

David declared it the last piece, and after that, stood and invited everybody to join him now for cake.

It was his birthday, a milestone birthday at that–I’d had no idea. Well then that makes this all the better.

I caught his eye from up there in my front row of one and kind of raised a finger halfway in a gesture of “wait” and then hesitated a moment, because this was his party, his celebration, his gift to us, and I didn’t want to distract from that in any way. And yet it just seemed a good time.

“I have an original composition.”

I had mentioned no such thing to him while he was planning this. He was surely jet-lagged–it was quite late his time–and he had no idea what to expect from his musical cousin who had lost most of her hearing. He looked afraid that this was somehow going to turn awkward, or, or what, but I was pulling this on him after he’d already said the playing was over and he didn’t know what I was up to and he wasn’t quite sure how to react.

And then I reached down to my unzipped purse and quickly handed it to him kind of folded and scrunched inside my hand and watched his face as he realized what he suddenly was holding.

The surprise. What it was. The crowd roared as it saw. I wanted to say it was from all of us here in thanks for what he’d just given us but I didn’t want to interrupt him in that wordless moment.

He held the black and white soft wool piano hat out for all to see. And then he put it on his head and folded up the brim. “It’s PERFECT! I LOVE it!”

I had wanted to make him one for a long time, and the chance to give it to him in person got it to finally happen.

A little later, as people were chatting and enjoying that cake, Aunt Joyce, who teaches flute, plays professionally herself, and who’d done a duet with him a few minutes earlier, asked me how long it took me to make that. She was quite taken with it.

I don’t yet know how to make a flute hat, but clearly pianos were acceptable–and so I pulled a second one out of my purse, with brown at the brim and the top that made it go perfectly with the outfit she had on.

“No!” in disbelief.

I grinned.

What I didn’t tell them was, I had made that three-color one first. It was in a yarn new to me that took some tweaking of how I usually knit that pattern. I wanted it not too thick looking but quite warm. I liked it–but it came out just a tad slouchy and it seemed not quite the thing. It was good but I strongly felt it needed a do-over. Take out a row here, here, and these few too. I felt very pleased after the second one: I’d gotten it right for him this time.

So then but who was the other one for? There are a lot of musical people in the family to choose from. I would have to find out.

And then when she, the hostess of the evening, picked up his, not hoping nor asking for one in any way but simply appreciating the artistry that went into it, the question answered itself.



Chestnut
Tuesday January 23rd 2018, 12:10 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Awhile back, maybe two years? Colourmart had a dk 50/50 merino/silk in a cheerful chestnut brown, almost sold out, that I knew was exactly my friend Phyl’s color. So I hinted, and at the time she said she wasn’t into cowls.

Fair enough. But I bought a cone anyway while I still could because the shade was so perfectly her.

A week ago, I pulled it out of the stash and wondered out loud in her presence if that reluctance still held.

“Oh, that’s my color!” And yes, yes she would quite like a cowl out of that, thank you!

Alright then!

So yesterday, I showed her the project at the halfway mark: did she want me to continue going straight, or fan out?

“Is yours straight?” (Yes it was.) “Fan out.”

Okay, so I had to design how I would do that in that lace pattern…

…And it is finished and drying and I learned how much I like how that just came out and I intend to do that again–if nothing else, so that I can get it written down as I go, so that I can then test knit it from that written-out, etc etc.

The plain no-brain hat that I started after dinner, meantime, is well on its way.



Warmth that’s easy to put on one-handed
Sunday January 21st 2018, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I didn’t take this one to church last week. I couldn’t tell you why not, other than the passing thought of maybe I’d keep it for myself. The way the yarn was spun makes it look a little bit nubbly but it is marvelously soft and I love the color.

Yeah, I didn’t believe I would either–because I knew there was enough yarn left to at least make a smaller version. But still, that merino/silk stayed home.

Not today. Today it definitely insisted it was coming with me. I thought I was ready to head out the door to church but it called me back somehow. Okay. I walked halfway across the house and retrieved it just in time.

It was not picked out by the friend who went for the beige cashmere. (Whom I said “Happy Birthday!” to, having no idea it really had been her birthday two weeks ago.) It was passed over by the friend who picked the silver Classic Elite Chalet baby alpaca that I finished yesterday. (Yay for overnight drying.)

And then, at the last meeting, I saw Candice and what she was wearing and was suddenly pretty sure of myself. But first things first: ask, because you never know, and people should always have a choice and not just have to be polite at you. “Is this a good shade of blue?”

She exclaimed as I pulled it out, “That is the PERFECT shade of blue! Ohmygosh, is this for me?!”

Note that she is the mother of three small children. Note that this week, her husband’s been out of town and she’s been coping with the kids missing him as much as she has. (I saw one being weepy and remembered those days.) Note that this week is the week, it turned out, that she broke her wrist, while trying to hold everybody together in his absence.

I’d had no idea.

She didn’t need that cowl last week. She needed that cowl this week. It’s not just about the color.



Didn’t seize the 4s for the freeze
Friday January 19th 2018, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS

Five skeins (four of those, and one 80/20 baby alpaca/bamboo) bought at Green Planet on Tuesday.

I have small remnants of the first four and one repeat’s worth left on that fifth, and I really want to finish this cowl but my hands need to stop. It’s the chunky baby alpaca blend, super soft, and I thought I was just going to get it started so as to have a small carry-around project for tomorrow. It kept insisting, You need to knit me right now! and the next thing you know I had nearly run out of yarn.

A hat and almost a cowl (I might yet. After the icepacks. Maybe) in one day. For me that’s a record.

But the camera on the phone is in no-go-mode so I can’t show off. Maybe I should confess that the thing landed out of my purse onto the front of the car while I was out and about and the thing is so old that no self-respecting car thief bothered to touch it.



I knew when I saw the yarn that that was exactly her color. And she likes to bake.
Wednesday January 17th 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Caramel bundt cake. Wouldn’t you say?