Love your dear ones
Sunday March 18th 2018, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

The friend I knitted the purple for was wearing an outfit today that would look smashing with the butterscotch cowl, and she definitely thought so, too. Got that one right even when I got that one wrong.

Eli loved his new teal-green hat and the vote of thanks and confidence in his mango-tree-caretaking it conveyed.

Which was as far as I got. I was all ready to tell the expectant mom she could shrink the baby hat for a few minutes in the dryer while the baby was small, let it air dry as the baby got bigger and the superwash treatment would shrink or stretch the fit accordingly. But those came home.

Last Tuesday we got a phone call close to dinner time: my friend Karen (this friend), my visiting teacher in Mormon-speak, had a big dinner ready to set out and she was suddenly in need of people to feed it to and would we like to come? There was no way she by herself could plow through all this.

Hey, love to. A few others showed up at her spur of the moment call and a grand time was had by all and we should do this again, definitely. May I just add, and that was the biggest lasagna pan I have ever seen.

Her daughter-in-law is the one I just knitted the butter cowl and baby hat for.

Karen had a heart attack two days ago and her family was not in church. Any protest of mine that she is way too young for this, well… She is recuperating.

Someone definitely needs me to bring them a good dinner. My pans may be smaller but I’ve got two ovens at the ready and all the love in the world.



Plus one
Friday March 16th 2018, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS

Cowl: damp. Hat: not so much, not yet.

I’m going to have to finish this game of yarn chicken in the morning. If I do run out–I don’t think I will, but if I do, then I could make the top of the hat a solid white and run diagonal lines of white weaving down through all the yarnovers. Or rainbow colors. Or something.

(Having typed that, I got up to weigh the remaining yarn: 16 grams.) Yeah, it’ll be close. What would you do with a shortage at the top? Note that there is, or at least was, one last skein of that dye lot at Cottage Yarns this week. (Hey, Kathryn’s website’s back up!)



Passing the baton
Thursday March 15th 2018, 10:41 pm
Filed under: History,Knitting a Gift,Politics

The first of the two skeins of Debbie Bliss Rialto in butter is done. The knitting is dense, the yarnovers are few so as not to give baby fingers much to snag and pull on, and I could almost stop here. Nah, it needs that second one, I don’t get off that easy.

Meantime, I didn’t say yesterday because I was still trying to process the experience into words: around ten a.m. Wednesday, I happened to be driving past a school that’s on the main drag and it looked like the entire student body was out there on the sidewalk protesting.

I gave them a huge smile and thumbs-up from the other side of the road and they all cheered and waved their homemade signs. It felt very much like a celebration of the right of the people peaceably to assemble to petition the government. Their civics and history teachers aced this.

I remembered the day my mom was driving me from near DC to Baltimore for the Maryland State Piano Competition when the March on Washington to protest the Vietnam War had been the day before. There were hikers with backpacks along the freeway, where pedestrians were never supposed to be, and every now and then they would turn and hold up a cardboard sign at the oncoming traffic naming the city or town they eventually hoped to get back to. Some of them had a very long way to go.

Hitchhiking was common in those days and on that hour’s drive and back I saw no sign of any cops hassling those kids: they had come together to change history for the better for all of us by demanding their voices be heard–and they succeeded.

Those just older in my generation didn’t want to shoot at other people’s kids in Vietnam. Our kids want the shootings of kids and others here to stop. They are in the right, and they are making themselves heard.

Right here and all across the country. I am so very proud of them all.



In happy anticipation
Wednesday March 14th 2018, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Lupus

I had a skein of Malabrigo Mecha (130 yards) on short US 7 circs with the ribbing all done and a row or two of stockinette above: all set for the next time I needed to throw a brainless project in my purse.

I grabbed it on my way out the door to a lupus group meeting just in case.

It was perfect: my hands could go round and round and round the hat almost without looking at all while keeping me fully focused on whoever was speaking, and two hours later as we closed up I was to where I needed to measure and start the decreases at the top. Cool.

But rather than finishing it once I got home, I picked up some Rios (210 yards), another pair of 7s, and started doodling. Never made a pattern like that before. Never saw it from anyone else, either, and I kept knitting until nearly the end of the ball to see what it wanted to be when it grew up, knowing I have to do this again and I have to write this down and I have to put this out there–I really like it.

Looking up in surprise at the hour, it is time to call it a night. I will leave the cast on for the morning.

Most of a hat and a cowl-minus-one-row for one day. Clear’em on out so I can get to the butter yellow tomorrow.

If you keep on knitting the knitting gets done. Why does this always surprise me?



This is yellow journalism
Tuesday March 13th 2018, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,LYS

(Phone back on strike, no photos yet, sorry.)

An expectant mom, so you know superwash merino is the only way to go. Not allergic to wool. Her favorite color? Yellow, she laughed, looking down at her butter-colored dress.

Let’s see, do I have… Hmm, no I don’t…

Coral, I love coral, too, she quickly added, trying to broaden my options.

You know what this means. I had an excuse, no, a need to go to the yarn store–when it comes to yellow anything I don’t even have the dye for that.

The rain mostly let up and I headed out to Cottage Yarns today, where the inventory is quite a bit bigger than the more local stores. Kathryn and I started to go through the aisles together: this peach? she offered. It was on the gray side.

I couldn’t see it. But there, that butter yellow is just the shade: is it machine washable? (It was a brand I wasn’t overly familiar with.)

Yes, and it’s very soft.

(Checking the label.) Extrafine merino. I was very pleased. And then when I actually touched it I knew that this was a yarn that could do no wrong.

I brought it home, ready to go–and cast on the Malabrigo Anniversario for the other person I’d asked Sunday, whose color preference was, with a laugh, “Everything!” Which that kind of is.

I think after making a lot of other people’s favorites last week I needed to tackle colors I loved for a bit to help keep the batteries charged.

And then the soft-as-butter. Its turn is coming right up.



But it’s a good boss
Sunday March 11th 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Rachel is moving to Maine (note that that is farther from here than Barrow at the tippy-top of Alaska. I checked), and only because I don’t have any say in it. But then her dad–okay, so, she’s allowed.

She had some time to stop by today.

I pulled two things out of an overstuffed bag and then shook out the rest, saying they were my back-up plan, but she’d already picked up the baby alpaca cowl. She did a double take at how much softer it was than even what one would expect out of such a fiber. Didn’t even look over the others, this was it.

The hat, too–they’re a set.

The hat?

I told her they were in memory of the qiviut she’d spun up for me back when my fingers couldn’t feel to spin that fine a fiber with any justice. I’d told her not to give it back; she’d given it back.

We were both really glad of that after it went to a high school friend of mine as a small but very warm scarf after he was paralyzed when a car hit his bike. Grateful to be able to do something. Grateful to each other for making it so we could.

I am so going to miss her.

So, off to another friend’s for her and church for me.

A burgundy cashmere cowl (not in the picture) was exactly the favorite of… The pink pearl was worn proudly throughout by…

We had a linger longer after church, a potluck (with the desserts on a table set on blocks to raise it and keep the littlests from devouring only sugar. I was much amused.)

I found the husband of the one I’d knitted the silk for, a couple that’s only been here a few months and whose name (his I mean) I don’t think I actually know yet: is B here?

She’s out of town, he half-apologized.

Oh. Could you do me a favor?

Sure!

Could you give this to her for me?

And in that moment I was given the great privilege of seeing how much that man loved his wife. Wow.

At the last, I found…

That large smalt-colored cashmere/cotton cowl I’d worked on Friday and all day Saturday? When I got up this morning it was a beautiful thing, and still a little damp. I hairdryered it. I felt, with a good night’s sleep between finishing it and seeing it finished, that I would be disappointed somehow if it didn’t go to her. Sure, I could knit her other things later: but this knew where it wanted to be.

I asked her if she liked this color, then reached into the bag and pulled it out.

“That is a beautiful color!” she gasped. And on her, it very much was. It was perfect. It had been worth every stitch.

I came home and eyed that butterscotch baby alpaca that had been sitting in my stash for ten years until this morning, when it had leaped onto my needles and cast itself on. I considered taking it off and frogging out that tiny little bit and picking up something more my color.

Which is why the first of the two 110-yard skeins has now transmogrified itself into fern motifs. Butterscotch it is.

When I let the yarn be the boss of me, someone out there always wins. I do, too.



Letting it go is a no smalt thing
Saturday March 10th 2018, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life

A few mild days and nights and suddenly there are baby figs (that’s two there, with a leaf whorl at the top) and more Indian Free peach blossoms. (Just noticing–the copper tape needs fixing. It does work at keeping the snails and slugs from eating the fruit tree flowers at night, but only when it goes all the way around.)

I had a cowl I’d started yesterday that I wanted done. I would describe it as densely spun almost more like a sock weight, 66/34 cashmere/cotton (mine was the smalt blue) that I wound off into two 75+ gram balls a few months ago.

Straight from the cone without scouring first. I’d forgotten that. That was a mistake. I believe in letting me enjoy the yarn as much as the person who gets it, but this time with the dried-hair-mousse effect still there, let’s just say it accentuated the knitting-with-cotton aspect.

The wooden circular needles did not want those stitches to slide across (after all, the whole purpose of that coating is to keep fibers together in the spinning process), and when I tried to change to a smoother pair I found my others that said 4mm were, but the one in my hands was more like a 4.2–they didn’t match up and I was stuck with it. At least I’d cast on doubled to speed things up.

I started at 10:30 this morning. Other than a load of laundry, heating leftovers, icing my hands, and a quick run to the grocery store, I basically knit all day long, breaking the yarn at long last at 8:40 p.m.  Done.

After all that angst and those short circs, I finally got to try it on in its crumpled-tin-foil stage of the lace.

Oh. Blink. That’s why I did this. This is actually gorgeous. Who’d have thought.

Almost crowded out by the thought of I DID IT AND I NEVER HAVE TO DO IT AGAIN!

It is soaking those oils out in the suds and will be luscious and soft. Or at least softer. Tomorrow I will simply totally love it.

Whether I’ll be ready to give it up immediately after all that is another story whose ending I quite honestly don’t know yet. Let me look at it in the morning. That vividness is not quite my shade of blue. Close, though.



Set and match
Thursday March 08th 2018, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Leaves and flowers on the Santa Rosa plum, with the Indian Free peach behind it popping out its first flower.

The teal-blue silk cowl came out roughly 13×13″. It will stretch downward somewhat over time, and I’ll tell the recipient that if she wants the top edge tighter I can do that: you pick up two stitches, cast off the first, pick up another, cast the previous one off till you’re done. No problem.

Not that I think she’ll find the least bit of fault in it, I just thought I’d throw that out there in case anybody hasn’t done that before to fix a too-loose edge.

Meantime, I took the second skein of Chalet and knit a not-oversized baby alpaca cowl in order to give my friend Y several to choose from; she wanted cashmere, I have a cashmere one, but color is everything and this is softer than some cashmeres and beige goes well on her. Up to her. It’ll be dry in the morning.

I used the last of the yarn from last week’s hat to win my game of yarn chicken.



For Vera
Wednesday March 07th 2018, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Done. It stretches sideways easily and will adapt to anywhere it gets put in there.

The people in my South Bay knitting group were knitting a memory blanket for one of their oldest members, who has Parkinson’s with dementia these days, and did I want to knit her a 12″ square?

I hadn’t made it to one of their evening meetings in over three years and I hadn’t heard the news. Vera had knitted a very nice square for a blanket they had all made for me a dozen years ago, and yes, absolutely.

She likes bright oranges, pinks, reds, cream–I knew poppies were her favorite flower.

I went to Cottage Yarns looking for something in machine washable worsted weight and came home with something I liked but that I couldn’t persuade myself in the end would quite be her favorite. I just hadn’t found what I was looking for. I was stumped.

I found something wonderful at Stitches, but oh of course, it needs to be machine washable. That’s not.

There’s nothing like putting the fear of deadlines into you, though, so when I got asked a couple of days ago if I could get mine to the person piecing the squares, I did a deep stash dive after putting down that silk last night.

And lo and behold: I remembered those two sock yarns–I knitted them together to make a hat for…and it all came back to me. Did I still have enough? I weighed them. I was sure/almost-sure I did.

One strand was Lisa Souza’s bright Earth Birth colorway in merino, the other some other hand-dyer’s merino/tencel.

I remembered Vera once approaching me in great excitement years ago when I showed up, complimenting me on my new blouse: “Is that Tencel?”

“No, silk.”

She was confused. That was not the answer she was anticipating, so she asked me again, with less certainty: “Is that Tencel?” Because she had been knitting some Tencel yarns and loved them and she was clearly excited for me.

I had to explain that no, it was (just) silk.

I’m sure she doesn’t remember that. But I do, and here was a bit of that fiber she loved, and I could make it make flowers. One could even claim poppies. She may not see nor recognize them in the swirl of colors, but she will have the warmth and love from all of her old knitting friends to wrap around her, with a photo of each of us holding our squares to help her hold onto those connections as long as possible.

I knitted for three+ hours, rinsed it, spun it out in the machine, put it on a pillow with a clean white pillowcase and hairdryered the heck out of it and delivered it to Green Planet Yarns, where the person doing the piecing works.

Driving away from there, I was so very glad–and relieved–that I’d been part of that. I marveled at how I’d almost thought, and in reality for several weeks did think even if I wasn’t admitting it to myself that I was too busy to get around to actually doing it just then: the stash diving, the knitting, the measuring, the designing, choosing every variable involved and then getting it done.

But what else is life for but to be there exactly when someone needs you. Not just when it’s easy to pitch in. I just made it.



Yes, yes I think that’ll do quite nicely
Tuesday March 06th 2018, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I was going to do another half diamond but I think I’ll call it good.

Yarn: laceweight teal-blue silk from Colourmart that I asked them to ply for me, 2×3 strands together for a 6-ply of it. (You order that at checkout, $5.) It came out a little thicker than I expected, more like a worsted-weight wool would be, but that just means it knitted up all the faster. I have 74 grams left out of the 150.

It does need to be washed because of the mill oils, unlike a store-bought yarn, so how much stretching of the lace vs shrinking of the silk–it’s all an adventure from here.

I think I’ll go cast off and call it done.



Baby mountain climber
Monday March 05th 2018, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Someone figured out how to get to a favorite Dr. Seuss book…

And that picture I shared the other day of Mathias passing some Cheerios to the dog from his high chair? The dog has started bringing Mathias bits of kibble. Fair’s fair.

(Re the knitting, I finished the fluorescent pink and blocked it and delivered the beaded cobalt cashmere/silk to the friend who loved it as dearly as I’d hoped she would.)



The first one
Sunday March 04th 2018, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Maria in the comments was right. I picked out that colorway at Stitches specifically to match a sweater I’d seen a friend wearing (that I thought was wool) but before I even pulled it out of my bag I asked her if she was allergic to wool–and she said she was.

“But I’m not allergic to cashmere.”

I laughed. I did indeed have some, albeit in limited colors. What was her preference? She was at the head of my list.

So that freed that cowl up, she never even saw it, and across the room was someone who had moved into town two weeks ago. It is never easy to  have to start from scratch on making friends in a new place, so hey, maybe we could speed up the process. I went over and introduced myself (church having just ended) and said I’d spent last weekend at a big knitters’ convention having the time of my life, and so–“Are you allergic to wool?”

That was the last question on earth she would have expected from a complete stranger and she laughed, “No?” with a question mark.

“I think this would match your jacket–if you want, and if not tell me your favorite color.” And I pulled the cowl out.

Sharp intake of breath: “I LOVE it!” She put it on and petted it, gobsmacked and very very happy.

She just made a hundred more knits happen for other people. Just watch.



Instant gratification hat
Saturday March 03rd 2018, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I started another cowl after last night’s post and finished the first skein today and at that stopping point considered: it really did need a second.

But I decided that I had done all the vivid Barbie-pink pearl yarn I could stand for one day, in part because with the sun gone, the artificial light did not improve the color for me, even if I think it’s just the thing for its intended, and meantime some super-soft, thick, braided Classic Elite Chalet yarn had been jumping up and down at me yelling louder and louder. It was emphatic that it needed to jump the line, and so I let it. Just for the evening, I told myself. It works up fast.

I have a hat like this with seven repeats. But there were only 98 yards to work with–and again, it’s quite thick–so we would have to go with six. (Note to self: needles US 6 and 8, 60 stitches.)

And there you go. It reminds me of a carousel somehow. Up down up down hold onto that line anchoring your character and a curving top above with those angles built into it.

As I was knitting it, it dawned on me at last that the person I sometimes see at church with the tracheotomy probably doesn’t want the possibility of loose fibers near her throat, but in this long cold spell we’ve been having, (34F as I type) a melt-in-your-hands-soft hat could be just the thing…



Blossoming
Thursday March 01st 2018, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

On the day of the first decent rain in a month, out in the yard these August Pride peach flowers are darkening on their way out while the Santa Rosa plum is just getting going. I’m hoping that most of the buds wait a few more days for the sunshine to keep some pollen for the honeybees and fruit, but hey. I’m just relieved it’s raining. (That is an understatement. It’s been bad.)

The tree bracelets down there are wide paper-thin strips of copper to keep the snails from crawling up at night and eating the flowers and fruit. It works, too.

Today’s half a cowl so far: the Cat Mountain Fiber Arts yarn that I bought at Stitches–I’m not seeing it on her site (yet?)  50/50 merino/silk, 225 yards/100g in the colorway Wood Nymph. Pretty stuff.



Thththththat’s all, folks!
Wednesday February 28th 2018, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Hey, Dad, one of your amaryllises is blooming. Thank you!

And on the cowl: I wanted to use up every inch of that beaded yarn, to put all of that good woman’s work to use.

I found myself wanting a bigger motif at the bottom. Given that the beads will go in through a loop but they do not want to come back out of them again and if you do, the antsy little strand they’re on catches along with the bead and starts tangling, one really can make no mistakes with this stuff. Pushing on the yardage when there was absolutely no more and no backtracking was dicey. But I wanted to so I did.

I should add, after I weighed a few times as I went along and prayed a little bit to stay on the safe side.

And I got it! Casting off right after a yarnover row is fine when you have to. But I finished that bigger motif and I really like how this cowl came out.

Five beads left. I don’t think that vendor would mind.