The absurd with the Sublime
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.)
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.
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
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!
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…
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
Since he still wasn’t feeling too great that day, Wednesday I drove Richard to what I assumed was going to be a half hour, an hour at most at the doctor’s.
I got in three and a half hours of knitting in two different waiting areas. (He’s fine, no worries.)
Near the lab, there was an antsy little boy of about two and a half, three at the most. Trying to be good. Playing with his dad’s phone for entertainment, small and portable, but a real toy is always a good thing so I offered them a finger puppet and told the little boy, “Happy Birthday!” So that his daddy would know it was for keeps, too.
And we waited.
There seemed to be some uncertainty at one point and I said it again to the little boy: “Happy Birthday!” This time he gave me a great big smile back and did a little leap for joy.
And I knitted.
The afghan spilled all over me and my large chair and onto the floor, greens and white and teal, and every now and then I would get to the end of a row and turn it over, showing more of the other side of the work. The front and back are so different. But of course the strands would tangle on each other every time, and sometimes I would reach into my knitting bag and move the balls around right away, sometimes, eh. Wait till they refuse to let the others go past. And then I’d turn again. In between, I would get to where it changes from the plain edging to the patterned center and have to track down which strand was an end being woven in upwards and which was the next working one, a little bouquet of yarn stems to choose from here and then again down here.
They got whom they were waiting for faster than I did: an older man was wheeled out from the lab. The younger man got up and walked over to him and then spoke with the receptionist behind him while the little boy danced around. Grandpa, if he was the grandpa, looked like Carlos Santana and one could almost expect him to whip out a guitar and start playing into the quiet. But the towering ceiling seemed to swallow all sounds.
Mostly, though, I was just focused on the work in my hands and letting them be. I’d been at it for long enough at that point to wish for an icepack break–not too fervently yet, but since I’d forgotten my phone and anything else to read there was simply nothing but knitting to do. Besides, I wanted to get this thing finished this week anyway.
After about a minute I finally realized I had been feeling eyes upon me for awhile and glanced up.
And there was the man in that wheelchair, all of them still there, waiting. No word had been said. He wanted my eyes, and once he had them he held them a moment.
He took in that afghan. And in no more hurry than one would take to knit such a thing he gave me a slow-motion, deeply affirming bow of the head and then, reverently, a thumbs-up, holding my eyes again. It came so closely from his heart that to emphasize that point he slow-swooshed that thumb forward and up a second time, like a conductor extending the symphony’s note and holding it out there in space. He wanted me to know that. He could not leave till I did.
Whoever he was, however he’s lived his life, this was someone who knew the creative life and understood the time and perseverance it takes to become good at what one does. He wanted me to know he knew I was there.
I’d never met him, we never spoke a word, and yet the next day it was still such a powerful experience that while I was finishing those last patterned rows I nearly cried. I couldn’t write about it immediately because I was still trying to process how to say it.
That man radiates love. I want to be like him when I grow up.
Finished the last multicolored, multi-yarn row tonight at long last. Plain edging to go. My thanks to the elderly volunteer at the clinic who watched me work as I waited for a prescription to be filled this afternoon and told me, appreciatively, That’s a big project!
He made my day. It’s funny how much unexpected little moments like that can help.
Meantime, some peach flowers: the August Pride tree and its wide-petaled blossoms just starting to open and the Tropic Snow with its deeper pink, slightly frilly ones.
And looking at my phone, I forgot to post this! I had some of my friend Kathy‘s dog’s fur out on the patio for nest-making material and snapped this Bewick’s wren right after it gathered a beakful.
In the shape of a heart. It was on Valentine’s day. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at my phone.
More and more and more and then more
Matched Saturday’s record: four repeats. Put on enough Joni Mitchell albums and I can plow through anything.
But I found myself daydreaming of a baby blanket done like an *Amish quilt: plain. Flat. Stockinette. The color wheel rendered in rectangles peacefully pieced together afterward. No untangling balls of yarn every time you turn it over to start a new row, no worsted-weight pulled up in circles against the size 5s (they really are. And all that time I was wondering why those 6s were coming up so tight on both yarn and hands–it’s because they’re not.)
Given how heavy and wide this blanket is and that I had more yarn and could continue, the question settled itself: this one’s for the parents.
Which meant adding 22 more repeats. The tall ones have to be able to cover their feet and pull it up to their chins. A good rule of thumb for afghans is to knit it to match their height.
And yes, Holly, I know I talked about wearing clothing to match the project to make it easier to get to it, and I do that a lot, but after a week of dutiful greens and blues my inner purple screamed to be allowed to come out to play.
*p.s. And then I found this. And it describes it as possibly the most time-consuming. Well then. We have a match.
A new amaryllis, opening up all at once.
Just finished my third repeat on the afghan over the course of the day, again. For me, even though I know I do this and it bugs me and I always try to push myself past it, still, it’s easier to really dive into a big project when there’s so much of it already present, rewarding the eyes and hands; the whole thing speeds up the more I do.
Well, that plus I’ve got a deadline that’s sooner than the baby. It’s way too big to reasonably haul around Stitches all day in two weeks, but I’d really love to show it off to the Malabrigo folks to show them what can happen to their yarn after it leaves their mill–I’ve seen how much they enjoy that. Probably won’t happen this time, but hey, whatever gets my seat on that couch and those needles in hand.
Forty-five repeats so far.
A three-repeat day
That solid green on the left is about to have stitches dropped for four rows and the white segmenting it back up into dots–it’s not a border. The pattern is a glorified stockinette stitch.
Pick it up and the whole thing shimmers in waves as it moves, all those popped-out bits of blues and greens highlighted by the white.