He can take a little ribbing
Wednesday June 06th 2018, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

(It’s a little darker than this.)

Yesterday’s cowl was for a newly-single mom of an adorable three-year-old and was from a single skein of souvenir yarn bought in Ft. Worth the last time we got to visit my father-in-law before he passed.

I couldn’t match it.

But after some serious stash-diving I came up with this to at least approximate it; I remember, back when I was a young mom I would be halfway through the day before I realized I’d dressed my baby to match me without even knowing it. Again.

Two-by-two ribbing all the way up to give it some serious stretch. It will fit a preschooler’s head with lots of folding-up and it goes comfortably over mine. Kids grow.

Of course, being three and having a mom who’s back in school and will likely soon move again means it’ll probably get lost somewhere before he’s four and make how it was knitted a moot point, but then that would just mean he’d get to choose the colors himself next time.

The point is that in all the shattering losses they’re going through, good memories and a sense of belonging are still being created. They matter.



Look! A newborn cowl!
Tuesday June 05th 2018, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Ah, they’re so cute at this stage…

And Happy Birthday to my Dad! 



That soft gray cashmere
Sunday June 03rd 2018, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

I finally learned how to pronounce her name today.

She’s a knitter? I…I… How could I not have known this! She’s so shy and so quiet, but offering her that cowl changed everything in an instant. She crochets, too, but she’d never knitted anything like this. She was blown away.

What kind of… She looked for the right words to ask.

I got it and grabbed my purse. I pulled out a circular needle.

Yes! That! She marveled over knitting needles that were all in one piece like that. Where do you get that?

It was a 4mm/US6 and apparently a fair bit smaller than she was used to. I told her where the nearest yarn store was, or maybe Michael’s, or online?

She did not know how to do it like this, though. Could I teach her?

Be still my heart. Oh honey yes. And there’s a book out there that has lace instructions (lace. That was the word she’d been looking for. English is not her first language) both in words and pictures. I couldn’t resist adding, And I wrote it.

(With credit thoroughly owed to Donna Druchunas for those diagrams and the charting.)

I told her I was giving her a copy next week (or next time, I explained, depending on when my aunt’s memorial service gets scheduled for. Aunt Bonnie cannot leave us without her children knowing just how much their sweet mother meant to my family and me.)

If only I’d done this good woman’s cowl a long time ago. But at least I did it now. We have us some catching up to do. This is so cool.



140 grams to start, 82 left
Saturday June 02nd 2018, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I knitted this this afternoon, before and after a trip to Cottage Yarns for Rios colors I needed for various people. Who knew I had nearly entirely knitted my way through my stash of navy? C wasn’t next because I didn’t have her favorite. Now I do.

I took this up again after dinner. I ran to Trader Joe’s a mile away to make myself take another break and then got back to it for nearly two hours more, determined to get it done tonight. This one just had to be ready for tomorrow. I’ll deal with the ends then.

Thanks go to the power-line workers who got the electricity restored at our end of the city so I could safely open the freezer and take out the icepack: I couldn’t have done that much repetitive motion without and I have the sense not to try.

Note to self: loosely-spun dk-weight cashmere, shades of gray and near-black plied together, a Colourmart set108 stitches, 4mm/US6 needles.

And here it is after spinning out in the washing machine. Nothing fancy, just mindless potato-chip knitting.

I think I like it.

 



The colors they wear
Friday June 01st 2018, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

So here’s how yesterday’s turned out. Superwash merino/cashmere/nylon in worsted weight.

And how today’s has started out. Cashmere, at a finer weight and for a larger person so it’s more stitches and a bit slow going. That, and I had a day of Let’s Run All The Errands now that I’m feeling better.

One is for a recent cancer survivor and the other for someone who needs to not feel alone right now. I’m just glad I have this one small thing I can do.



After the stash dive
Thursday May 31st 2018, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

This is a new one. I paid attention to the tightly wound strand coming out of the ball and didn’t think to go read the label.

I wasn’t all that long into the project when I stopped and really looked at the yarn running between my hands–and grabbed that Magnolia ball band: this wasn’t fingering or even dk weight. This was worsted! I would have used bigger needles had I known. How I missed all that… I can’t even blame the fever. That was yesterday, I didn’t have it today.

So instead of something light and airy for summer I have a warm, densely knit cowl that is definitely using up all 200 yards. The grams scale says I have enough for one more repeat but I’m not entirely convinced. I think I’m going to try anyway.

All that said, the end-of-ball spinning weirdness ended early on in the cast-on and didn’t hurt anything.

Nighttime photo butchering the earthy greens and turquoise aside, this is Stitches yarn and Stitches yarns are always the prettiest ones. The person who gets this is going to love it, even if she has to wait for the right cool morning or evening for it; we get lots of those around here, even in the summer.

Knit nonstop in the round. Because a rolling moss gathers no sewns.



ABC
Wednesday May 30th 2018, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I.e, All But Castoff.

Which actually is done now.

I have a friend who’s into history and studies of other cultures and somehow it seemed more fun to knit her something with a hint of vicuna while anticipating telling her about the traditional chacu roundups of that animal, and the triumph of its comeback from near-extinction–a bit of a visual not to mention tactile aid.

Yarn: 98/2% 16 micron merino/vicuna, with the vicuna at about 12 microns. That 2% makes a noticeable difference over even the most super-fine wool.

I found one single light brown hair that had slipped into the spinning and showed up right at the cast off line.

I like that. A little bit of the animal it came from, untamed.

(Note to self: US7, 96 stitches to 128. Width 22 and 36, length 14 laying flat, 16 upright.)



Another one
Saturday May 26th 2018, 9:29 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Maybe it’ll be dry by morning.



Who? Beads me
Monday May 21st 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus

Well, that was a surprise.

I got a lovely note today and had no idea who this person was; I had to scroll down through the email chain, trying to figure it out.

Two years ago a friend had given me a big bag of craft supplies she wasn’t interested in anymore, nor was I, but I told her I could post it on Freecycle.org so that she could know it would go to someone who would be glad to have it. There were quite a few beads in there and someone could have the fun she’d hoped for when she’d bought it.

And so I did that.

I’d long since forgotten all about it.

The note was from the woman who had gotten that bag. She was no longer a medical student here but now in residency at the same school where my brother-in-law did his. Cool. But I remember the descriptions of what it was like to be in training as a young physician and the severe lack of personal time it entailed and I’m not surprised it took that long for her to really search that bag.

But yes, she had held onto those craft supplies while moving halfway across the country to her new place.

And only then did she discover that, by her description it sounds like I gifted her with a cowl along with a note that meant a great deal to her, whatever I said. She is studying the specialty of one of my favorite doctors, and if I didn’t then I did today, telling her what a difference he’d made to me and wishing her well in her life. She was very touched (and here I was, reiterating that message, I’m sure.)

I don’t remember doing that. But I know I would be doing exactly the same thing all over again if given the chance–with a plain-vanilla-wearable-by-anyone cowl at the ready, or any one that just felt right. Because one of my doctors–and because of Rachel Remen’s stories on the subject–taught me what a difference it can make to a physician to know that there really are patients out there who appreciate what you go through as you aspire to do right by humanity, the whole reason you went through all that you went through to get to the point where you could offer of yourself and your life like that.

That they’re not forgotten when the medical crisis is past.

I wonder if maybe, just maybe, two years ago wasn’t when she needed to hear that message: maybe today was. I have watched life dance to the choreography of G_d enough times…

Knitting is love made tangible. Even if I wasn’t ever her patient, I know well the life of a patient. And I know it’s not always easy to be a doctor.

I’d better get to it on the next cowl to have it ready to send out into the world.



The more the merrier
Friday May 18th 2018, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I swatched the seaweed with the ocean. Just didn’t love the color combination and knew what I wanted but Cottage had been out of it. Called Green Planet: they had lots, I made the trek, and now I have something I like very much. And a better octopus color, too.

But I also needed a carry-around project this morning. I simply grabbed the yarn closest to me and started, and so another peach cashmere cowl is several inches in. Gotta use up those leftovers, right?

That blanket was what I’d needed to seriously rekindle all things knitting.



Begin: the rest is easy
Thursday May 17th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS,Wildlife

My first success at trying to photograph it.

The new Cooper’s hawk hasn’t yet been harassed by the ravens–and so, for apparently the third time this week, he took his dove dinner to the middle of the yard, out in the open. (Pardon the broomstick.)

Just like Coopernicus did when he was young.

Meantime, I went off to Cottage Yarns to try to find me some seaweed colors, and I did find some dark green but I’m not quite convinced it won’t turn into cowls instead. It’s hard to match the brightness of that Cian colorway.

Here’s what I’ve got so far: I cast on the entire width of the afghan, figuring I would put most of the stitches on hold and work one strip upwards at a time. Right now though I’m not so sure I won’t just simply do it all of a piece.

It took till today to figure out what bugged me about the original pattern: it’s four squares wide. The eye is unsettled at low even numbers–it wants odd ones. It’s got to be five. My swatch said I needed five anyway.

I’ve got ten stitches for each side, eleven rows, and I’m calling that bottom border done.

I want a reclining octopus taking up enough of one side to help divide the interior into the visual thirds that it should be. The seaweed needs to extend well into a second row’s worth to help with its third.

I got me some finagling to do.



Saved by the deadline from the deadline
Monday May 14th 2018, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I guess I made it look easy? I hadn’t knitted all of them in one week.

Remember when I offered the three elderly widows who were sitting together their choice of cowls a few weeks ago? They were all very appreciative.

So appreciative, one of them came back to me yesterday and made a point of telling me how much she loves hers. How she’d worn it day and night for two weeks, how her son had told her to cover her neck and head if she were cold and this did such a fine job keeping her warm and she’d never had a way to keep just her neck warm like that before. And it was SO soft!

Why, thank you!

What came next took me so by surprise that she had to say it twice, not because I didn’t hear it but because I just… (Surely that’s not what she’d said.) It was.

Her family was going to have a big happy reunion this summer (I knew one of her kids had adopted a whole lot of kids) and could I make twenty-nine matching cowls by then? She would pay me.

Clearly she wanted each one of them to have all the love that she’d felt in the one that I’d made her. One of her daughters so loves the one I surprised her with while she was visiting her mom last year; her son has a scarf I knit him years ago for wearing to Canada, if he still has it, and I know my friend and her late husband raised their kids to appreciate handmade things. They could all have a visual symbol of being a family that loves each other no matter where or what circumstances the individual grandkids had come in from. I got where my friend was coming from.

But.

Twenty. Nine.

MATCHING. No variety in the knitting.

Cowls. This summer. The summer that starts in five weeks?

It was suddenly a very good thing that I have a whole lot of experience with knitting requests by people who have no idea, because in that moment I needed every bit of that been-there-done-that-blase’-ness  to keep me from laughing out loud or gasping in astonishment or cringing and just all-around embarrassing her. Having her repeat the request helped put a bit of distance between the urgency of the ask while lessening the urgency of the no.

Well, says I, I’ve been wanting to make one for every woman in the ward. I started just over a year ago. I’ve done fifty so far.

Oh, says she, disappointed as it starts to sink in. She had so hoped. A year? Fifty? How long does it take to make them?

Seven to twelve hours, on average. And I need to get an afghan done and soon, and that’s a month. (Side note to myself: if I really work at it.)

She did the math on the time left and figured that that looked like that wasn’t going to work, then, was it. But she would pay me if I did, she hastened to reassure me.

I didn’t tell her my starting price for such a project in that time and that spot in my queue would start at, oh, let’s say a million. Plus materials.



How it came out
Sunday April 22nd 2018, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The story of the cowl.

I bought the yarn with a particular person in mind, knowing her favorite color, but as soon as I got going with it I knew the shade was off and it just wasn’t going to be it. And yet that yarn had practically thrown itself at me in the store just the same. What was I thinking?

Nothing for it but to keep on knitting till it’s done–there’s always a place for one of these, and if I hurry I can get it off the needles faster and get on to what I’d hoped for.

Done and blocked, it quietly made a case for itself: it was pretty. I’d almost missed that.

So this morning as I ran the ends in I found myself saying a little prayer: please, could You make it obvious whom to give this to? Like, really obvious so I don’t second-guess myself and wonder? Not that I’m in any way owed that, but I’d love to have the gratification of knowing it was worth it given that I kind of struggled not to be annoyed at it for making me wait for what I’d wanted to do.

Sitting in Sunday School, I spotted two new people across the room, one of whom had a face that was familiar to me from other contexts but I don’t know her; she was wearing a dress that matched that cowl. There was this little spark of happiness that exclaimed, Yes!

But she was deep in conversation with the other woman and in no way was I going to give offense by excluding her, so my attention moved on.

Sunday School ended, the Relief Society women’s meeting was about to begin–and that acquaintance stood, walked across the room, and sat down by me to talk to the next woman over for a minute.

Wow. That sure worked.

When their conversation was over, I asked her, “Are you allergic to wool?”

That was NOT a question she was expecting. “No–?”

“Is this a good color?”

She loved it. She was thrilled. Yes, and it matched her dress!

We asked each other our names. When I said mine, she did a double take and went, “Are you Michelle’s mom?!”

“Yes!”

She proceeded to tell me about things she’d done with my daughter, reminiscing fondly over her baking skills, telling me how much she and her friends had missed her and how they hoped she would move back.

Who doesn’t need to hear something like that about themselves? (I passed the good word on to her.) What mother doesn’t love hearing how much her child is loved?

Who knew how much that simple bit of knitting would come back to bless–us, too?

I really like Michelle’s friend. And she’s a knitter. What a way to start off knowing somebody!



You just get them started and then they take on a life of their own
Saturday April 21st 2018, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

Plums and peaches. It still amazes me, this whole concept of putting a dead-looking stick in the ground in the winter and a few years later having a nice-looking tree offering the best-tasting fruit.

Newly finished: a cowl in garnet Dona superwash extrafine merino that I expect will find its way home tomorrow. What I once did not know is, each little diamond contains the growth pattern of a pear tree.



While the hawk flew by
Thursday April 19th 2018, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Done and drying: I do like that Anniversario colorway.

As the English Morello tree holds up a sign to the honeybee highway: Will Bloom For Cherries.