Friday February 17th 2017, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

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.

Spring begins
Thursday February 16th 2017, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

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
Monday February 06th 2017, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

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.

Friday February 03rd 2017, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Knitting a Gift

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
Thursday February 02nd 2017, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

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.


Well, you do need it warm in Alaska, right?
Saturday January 14th 2017, 12:04 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Thank you all for the kind words about Al. Much appreciated.

Meantime, here is the Montagnais snowshoe side of the afghan. (It really is, isn’t it?)

As of now, it will use three 100 gram skeins of Malabrigo Rios in white, five in Solis, and five in Teal Feather and to really get it to the length I want I need to scrounge up another skein of Solis from somewhere–or even two.

This means it will weigh more than the baby till he’s, I dunno, twelve or so.

As for dyelots, I’m already alternating sections 1, 3, and 5, which match each other, with sections 2 and 4 from a second dyelot, and right now I’m nearly done with 3. Which matches 2 much more than 1, even though 1 and 3 are supposed to be the same and 2 isn’t. So I figure at this point just throw in anything.

If I can find it. I want to see it in person before I buy. If nothing else, Stitches West is next month.

Re Chugach National Forest
Wednesday January 11th 2017, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

Which surrounded us as the catamaran floated across Prince William Sound last June.

Slowly, slowly, a glacial pace… And the interior portion will end with two rows of white just like that.

I tried to capture the texture of the thing with the camera; I’ve started to think of it as the bubble wrap blanket, although the intent was more towards an idea of tops of trees in the Alaskan snow. Even though it’s knitted pretty tightly, I think it will still flatten out once it’s washed but I am going to enjoy it like this while I can.

The back seems snowshoe-y to my eyes. (Scroll down to see their) Montagnais-style, perhaps.

Didn’t spot that one coming
Wednesday January 04th 2017, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

What is wrong with this picture?

When I knit this Monday I never even saw it. It was the first time I’d picked the project up since I broke my hand mid-November, having been expressly forbidden to in the beginning by the osteopath when I described it as heavy.

Tuesday morning I caught my foot on something immediately, and I mean immediately, after I’d taken the protective velcro splints off my hand to step into the shower and fell and landed with that very same finger a bit hyper extended.

But at least it was into the clothes in the closet for a soft landing. But so I didn’t dare knit for the last two days to let that calm down. I did not want it to hurt. If it didn’t hurt I didn’t have to tell the doctor. I did not want to start the whole ten week broken finger and knuckle routine from the beginning again.

Today was, yeah, yeah, I’m fine, c’mon, let’s get to it.

And there for all my good intentions it stared back at me just like that.


Willing it to just not be like that didn’t work.

I Lady McBeth’d it. Out %*# spots!

Anyone who’s ever knitted blister stitch, I can just hear you going, Tell me you didn’t…!

I did.

I ripped out the two white rows and then I kept right on going through the next four green ones. All that needed to be gone was the white ones. All the green that was ever knitted on this thing has just been plain old solid stockinette stitch–the white interrupts it later. I ripped out an hour’s worth of extra work for no good reason other than my visual memory brain damage.

Well, it is what it is and you work with the brain you’ve got. I do like that Rios. I made a point of feeling how soft it is, of thinking how good it would be for the baby, how easy on the parents since they could launder it and how it would full together a bit when they do to help baby proof the stitches from him just a bit. Just a bit. (Yeah right. Remember Parker’s blankie after his brother was born?)

And so I knitted it back up, and then the next section, and now I’m on the one after that. My goal is to finish one 100g skein every three days, if my hand will let me. It’s coming along.

Saturday December 31st 2016, 12:01 am
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Ends needed to be woven in, seams sewn, stitches picked up… My favorite tasks. Not. And I’d lost my deadline.

So instead of finishing the sweater, I spent the day knitting the cowl I had cast on earlier yesterday when I didn’t know yet that that yarn rescue was about to happen.

I had one cone of 64/36 fine cashmere/fine cotton (on sale through December–note they’re on England time, 150g/$18 ppd) and had wound it into three equal balls and knit them together. No scouring, no plying, just go.

There was no way I could do it in a day. I wanted it done today. It’s not large but it’s done. Helped by the fact that I landed on my knee outside along with the same part of my upper foot I broke six weeks ago, sliding out from under me the same way. This time icepacks made a difference so I don’t think I broke anything. Sit! Knit!

Measured before blocking it’s 9″ long and 22″ wide and it will be growing larger in just a moment. What surprised me is how solid it looks but how light it feels, so I weighed: it’s 40g, and I have 114g left. (Colourmart tends to wind a little extra on.) For my $18 I could get three cowls out of this and even without having scoured it first, even with the mill oils still in, it feels like–this is cashmere. And someone who likes bright colors is really going to love this one.


(Edited to add, one really ought to look up a new word before posting it but in this case we’re safe. “Smalt,” their description of the color, is “glass colored blue with cobalt oxide” or a dye made from that glass when ground up. That fits it quite well.)

On the way
Friday December 30th 2016, 12:15 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

This didn’t get finished in time.

In part because I ran out of yarn. I had made a baby hat, weighed it, measured it, and thought yeah I have plenty to make a matching sweater. Well but no I didn’t: there was no third skein different-dyelot emergency backup like I thought, either. Oops.

I searched my stash. There was more Malabrigo Rios but there wasn’t any Bobby Blue nor one that would do as a contrast color.

I do love that I got to use the musk ox needle (bought as a souvenir there last summer) as both stitch holder and working needle on this particular project. It needed to be part of it.

I’d started at the back, added and subtracted for the sleeves and then come down the front. I had not planned on a cardigan but somehow in the adding and subtracting stitches I discovered the knit 2 purl 2 was going to turn into a knit 4 at dead center–man. Someone goofed. (Note that I was totally winging the whole thing–there is no pattern.)

Typing that out it hits me that I could have added two more stitches and turned it into a cable going down from the V. If I’d thought of it in time. I would probably have just made it but with zero left to finish that neck a little more neatly.

Adding a button band and around the neck meant more ribbing and more yarn and I just plain didn’t have it. I would need to see the colors in person and had no way to get to a shop. Post-concussion, I’m not driving yet.

So it didn’t go into Michelle’s luggage to be proudly hand-delivered to her big sister and brother-in-law in Alaska tonight.

I did show off to Richard that all those funny angles I’d been knitting actually looked like a baby sweater now.

We all piled into the car and he asked, Which airport?


Oh, okay, not San Jose, good thing I asked.

We were almost there when he asked me, Do you want to go to your yarn store in South San Francisco on the way home?

Me, surprised: Yes! Sure! Thank you! It hadn’t even occurred to me or I’d have brought it with! (Thinking, this not-driving thing gets SO old and here he’ll be taking me to the very place that dyelot came from!) I opened my phone and checked their hours. We were good.

And that is how once again we ended up at Cottage Yarns together at rush hour to Kathryn’s surprise. Remember those skeins of Bobby Blue I bought to go into stripes in that afghan? I asked her. They weren’t bright enough. She nodded. I did a hat and sweater instead–I need contrasting, or something, for the button band.

She knew right where the Bobby Blue was and opened the bag with the same dyelot mine had come from.

And we were good to go. And did. And drove home in the mildest rush hour week of the year.

Monday December 26th 2016, 12:48 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I tried to give the hat to Marguerite. She gently offered that I might want to give it to her husband directly.

And so when I saw him I stopped him and told him about his mother-in-law’s wish that I might make him such a thing just like that. She had quietly hoped a long time for it to come to be.

In the conversation he mentioned that they had seen my Facebook photos of Andy Mariani’s amazing peaches and so had made a trek to his farm and discovered the place for themselves. When I mentioned that his and Andy’s extra-fine merino hats shared that oatmeal yarn, that just did him in. The joy in his face! It was all so unexpected. So perfect. And at that my very non-physically-demonstrative friend, overwhelmed, reached over and gave me a quick hug. He looked like it was either that or have his eyes leak in spite of himself.

I cannot begin to say how grateful I am I got that done while Jean was still alive to see it. Only, she hasn’t yet. She’s off visiting grandkids and great grandkids and will be back shortly–still jetsetting at 90, and now with an extra little thing to look forward to when she flies home.

For Jean’s sake
Thursday December 22nd 2016, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Years ago, I designed and knitted something that my friend Jean thought would be really special if I were to make one for a relative of hers whom I’ve known and admired for years. She really hoped.

She had no idea what it’s like to knit an intense fair isle pattern nor that that’s a type of work I just don’t do often enough to have it come naturally. It was, in the end, just a hat, a very finite number of rows no matter the anticipated agony (which it wasn’t really in real life once I got down to it), but it ended up in my someday/it would be nice/I want to have knitted not to have to knit it column.

She mentioned on one other occasion how perfect its motif would be for him and when nothing happened, she didn’t want to bug me and that was that.

Except that it wasn’t. I actually really wanted to do it. And I quietly did, once, (they never knew) and didn’t realize till I was finished that I had totally goofed the pattern over here and that it would take more time to unwind the strands and undo it than to just start over. So I should just start over.

I was feeling a little burned, though; how about we give that pattern a rest and do something else first. And you know how queues jump off from there.

Fast forward, oh, I dunno, at least half a dozen years…

I saw her daughter Marguerite Tuesday evening at a Relief Society (i.e. church woman’s group) Christmas social, and asked, Do you remember?

It took her a moment, then, Yes, I do!

Your mom always wanted me to make one of those for your husband. I’ve just spent a whole week thinking about your mom, and then I got this really nice long handwritten note in the mail from her today, totally unexpected, where she thanked me again for knitting her that angora shawl years ago.

(I didn’t mention that that had been so long ago that I didn’t even know how to knit lace then! It was just stockinette, but Jean had loved it. It was in angora so that her blind husband could feel the softness. He’s been gone for some time now.)

I continued, that really hit me and got me over whatever was in my way: today I cast it on.

She was surprised and thrilled, and told me, Mom told me she was writing you a note. She told me she’d been thinking about you all week.


I said, I’m doing it to honor Jean and all of you. I love your family.

I didn’t tell her that the yarn was from Colourmart and I’d scoured and pre-shrunk one of the colors but only one–the leftover yarn from Andy Mariani’s hat. So I knew what its gauge would be. The other yarn of the same type was surprisingly thin-looking, a third less full before the blooming process, and that made guessing right on the stranding tension…interesting. Every single float across the back had to have enough stretch for the hat to fit comfortably but it couldn’t be loose enough to poke through the stitches and show out the front. Every single one. In a yarn I hadn’t tried fair isle on before. It took a lot of attention (and untangling!) The alternative was to hank, scour, and wait a day while it dried and then rewind it but since that bug had finally bitten me I wanted to grab it before it got away from me. Knit it. NOW.

I started that hat Tuesday and I finished it last night and I scoured it today. You have to. Those mill oils have to go. That wasn’t a yarn store yarn, all nicely washed and prepped after the milling. I haven’t ever done that after the knitting with an extra fine merino before, much less for something that has to fit. I knew the wool would both fluff out and shrink a lot and that’s why I’ve always done it beforehand when working from cones. Silk is my only exception.

Every float is perfect. The fit is perfect. After much obsessive checking along the way, the pattern is perfect.

Because it’s for my 90-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor friend Jean, as well as her beloved son-in-law Russ she is so close to, and nothing else could possibly do.

At the very end of the day
Thursday December 22nd 2016, 12:06 am
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I had wanted to make this for them for years. It all came together yesterday and today. Story later, but, I did it, it’s DONE. If I had known exactly what it would be looking like at the end it would have been begun long ago. It is deeply satisfying (not to mention a relief, not that they knew anything about any of this) that at long last they get to have it.

Earlier today, my computer keyboard somehow came unplugged and it took awhile to figure out what the problem was. I think it was the universe saying, hey you. Get to work.

Ramping it down
Saturday December 10th 2016, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

We wanted to set up the tree, and we wanted to get some work done on cleaning the garage. We’d gotten a good start a few weeks ago but it was time to get back to it.

Richard at one point slipped on something that had fallen on the floor and did this wild little arms-flying half-dance that I so often do but it was unnerving to see that big guy nearly falling backward like that. Close!

Next on his list was to get the wheelchair ramp back in the garage. We’d loaned it out for awhile, I thankfully hadn’t needed it myself in a very long time, we don’t even own the minivan anymore to use it with and it was past time to get that thing put back away. Glad we had it when we needed it, glad my health is much improved, and we hoped to stay done with it for a long, long time to come.

That thing is seriously heavy. And with its unsteady handle it is very awkward.

Richard was halfway to where he was going with it when I saw that thing he’d slipped on a moment earlier and, waiting till he was enough steps away, ducked right in there to grab it quick–if he fell holding onto that ramp he could do serious damage to himself. (Or not holding it, for that matter, given that he would have put it down by the time he got back to that point. Things you think through afterwards.)

What happened next was that he had to pivot to go around something and the back of the ramp where he wasn’t looking suddenly swung backwards hard against his efforts–bam! into the back of my head as I was leaning over. I screamed out in pain (which very much surprised me–wait–do I DO that?!) as it dropped me right there and I grabbed my head as he put the thing down, coming, astonished to see me there, not even grokking yet what had happened.

We got out of the *bleeping* garage (“I’m not going back in there!” “That’s okay!”) and spent the next ten-fifteen minutes holding each other with me bawling hard in fear as well as pain, him saying he was so sorry, me saying it’s not your fault I didn’t tell you I was coming behind you I should have, I’m so sorry, and all we could do was be there for each other.

That ramp had hit my head where it had smacked the headrest twice in the car accident that had killed my sense of balance. It did not help it. Later calling the cream in the fridge shrimp and then going what?? at myself did not reassure.

He brought me an icepack right after that good bawl and I put it to the back of my head for some time. He cooked dinner. He told me to take it easy.

A note from Holly at just the right time (thank you thank you Holly) allowed me to answer and just spill the whole story and to start to feel the beginnings of being able to cope; I told her I would go fire off a note to my neurologist, and did.

A few hours later, I got the last few rows of that Madeline Tosh ball knitted up into that cowl and bound it off and it was done and someone could love this, and that felt very good, even if I have no idea yet who the who is. I wish I did. It would help.

I’d already stripped the bed and washed the sheets and making the bed had to be done, and I did it after dinner myself, such a little thing but at that point such a great sense of accomplishment. Claiming and clinging to normal life.

Dang. And I had that brain MRI *yesterday*.

We are taking nothing for granted. We are watching carefully for symptoms. We know the drill.

The little carry-around project
Tuesday November 15th 2016, 12:00 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

…Is spinning out in the washing machine right now after a brief dunk.

I bought the yarn at Stitches a few years ago from a vendor who had driven across the country for the show and who really, really needed the sale more than I needed the yarn. I looked for a color that grabbed me and ended up with something that was nice but not overly thrilling. Practical. It was very soft, an extra-fine merino, so someone would surely love what that skein could become.

I grabbed it the other day when I couldn’t find anything else fast enough for the gauge I wanted to do (read: speed knitting) while in a hurry to get out the door. Then I was stuck with it, given that I like to finish things.

I wanted it done and out of my way. The two skeins from Imagiknit should show up in the mail tomorrow or the next day and then I can get on with that baby afghan I’d rather be working on, but meantime, maybe I could even do another cowl after this one before they come–if I hurried.

I have wondered why on earth I grabbed that dark periwinkle skein over everything else and who it was to be for.

Tonight as I knitted and knitted and knitted very suddenly I totally knew, and felt dumb that it hadn’t hit me earlier: it was so obvious. It couldn’t have been anyone else, and it would have been done sooner had I had any idea.

Let me go check if that machine’s done. Time to lay it out just so. Ah, yes it is.

So very glad I got this knitted up.