Pumpkinizing
Thursday September 28th 2017, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Finished the blue cowl, and after a trip to Cottage Yarns yesterday for some of Malabrigo’s Glazed Carrot merino, started one of several pumpkin hats to come.

(I think I’ll add a sideways 1×1 two-colored brim at the bottom afterwards–this one’s coming out big brother sized, not little sister sized.)

Looking for jack o’ lantern motifs tonight, I stumbled across something I’d never heard of. Richard, looking over my shoulders, figured out on the spot how to write a program to have your yarn machine-dyed to do this, to which I said, But she actually thought it up–and she actually makes this: self-striping sock yarn that knits up into jack o’lanterns. (Ravelry link.) And sushi. And snowmen, complete with scarf. The ones I like most appear to be sold out for now, but AbiGrasso (link to her own site) does fabulous work and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Meantime, back to the Halloween motif. With four to do I can learn as I go. For the first I’m knitting it with wide ribs and in plain orange: I can make face pieces separately, run the ends through to the inside, tie loosely behind the scenes and make it so they can undo the ties and pull the facial features off come November first to be all ready for Thanksgiving. So they can use them for more than a month. (The thought hits) –actually– I could make a bunch of pieces and let them have fun creating faces and then run the ends through for them or stitch them on so that they can be part of creating their own hats. Hey. I like that!

(New photo added at 10:15 pm.)



More of that same blue cashmere
Monday September 25th 2017, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

It took me till after dinner to settle down, choose just one yarn, and start.

But then after overdoing it yesterday, my hands needed that bit of a break.



Odd ball
Sunday September 24th 2017, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I waited till the two newly-near-sisters were standing together with their folks when I pulled the hats out–and got to watch the girls’ eyes go big. I had apparently managed exactly what they’d hoped for (and no yellow!)  I told them if anything wasn’t perfect, please tell me and I’d be happy to make another because this was about having them love what they got.

They were very, very happy and grateful and there were hugs and you knew they now knew they had an adult who thought the world of them who didn’t have to. Because just because.

Beige cowl: that young mom was off on a trip with her mom but her husband was there with the (not quite a baby anymore) and a backpack and it definitely had room for cashmere to make his wife happy, and yes, she wore that shade all the time. He’d had no idea this was coming.

Later I saw one of the hat recipients trying hers on his toddler’s head and loving how cute she looked in it. (Maybe I have enough yarn left in that ball to… Maybe. I might not so I didn’t say anything.)

The bright blue: exactly went with the dress of a woman who recently moved here, doesn’t know many people yet, is tied down with a new baby and has a lot of changes and adjusting to do all at once. It was a treat to see her face and her husband’s completely light up–and they stayed that way.

The purple didn’t quite find its spot yet and came home for now, but two green ones left the purse and didn’t come back.

The reject yarn from my first attempt at ordering self-striping? One of the two skeins bit the dust after church, mostly because I wanted to keep up the momentum. Two feet to spare when I declared it good enough and done. It was literally an odd ball as far as my eyes were concerned but someone will love it.

And then I can tell those girls that having to re-order to get the colorway right worked out perfectly after all.



Productive week
Saturday September 23rd 2017, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

When I said I had two weeks to do those two color requests? It wasn’t till this morning that it suddenly hit me, Wait–General Conference is next week! Women’s Conference is today, not the General–the first full weekend in October, not one split down the middle with September. Oops.

And so I sat down at ten a.m. and cast on the beige I’d been avoiding (boring…) and was determined to have it done even if I hadn’t given myself a whole lot of time to do it in. The green/orange/yellow request will get shown a green one and green/orange/yellow/blue yarn and get to choose stripes-to-be or the solid that is ready to go, but I had to have L’s ready, too.

Hey, said my fingers as the number of stitches gradually piled up. Cashmere definitely makes that nice, calm color feel wonderful. (Thank you Colourmart mill-end sets.)

I kept at it and kept at it and knitted some more during that one women’s session and now all it needs is to be dry in the morning. I might help it out with that after I finish typing this.

I ran in the ends on all these and two other projects that hadn’t happened on: all ready to go now. Not sure why I so often procrastinate that part.

Those hats, though. I am really really looking forward to seeing those girls happy. 



Falling leaves in September
Friday September 22nd 2017, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Because someone will need a cheerful blue one. (It’s blocking now and no longer looks like a Sorting Hat wannabe.)

Yarn: a surprise gift from Melinda of Tess Designer Yarns a couple years ago, multiple shades of a soft blue merino laceweight that I knitted together for instant gratification.



Hat #2
Wednesday September 20th 2017, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Somehow putting the photos side-by-side for the first time makes them a clearer mismatch than before. This one was a lot harder to match the drawing, short of spending well over a hundred dollars on individual colors.

Thus the self-striping Knitpicks Chrome, which kind of surprised me in how it came out. One can never entirely tell just from the outer lengths photo’d online on one side of the ball. I expected more blue and green, and it’s in there but it’s taking too long to get to it.

And the green was contaminated by a screaming yellow with greenish tints after it that didn’t go at all. I showed my young friend the yarn Sunday and she wasn’t in love with that part. Neither was I. When I got to it I broke it off and tossed it aside.

More purple is good, the mom said. Well hey, look at that, the yarn started right off with it and we definitely got more purple. And pink.

That one-stitch downward jog in the green only shows on this side so when I sew in a label when I’m done it will help keep that tucked out of sight on the inside.

Waiting to hear back whether she wants a fold-back brim or not, since her drawing didn’t have one. Debating coming up with a second-try hat somehow, just in case it’s needed. Happy to do so.

But from what I’ve seen I think she’ll like this one.

 



Hat #1
Tuesday September 19th 2017, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Friends,Knitting a Gift

I woke up this morning with a clarity of thought: what I want to do today is to get Alex’s hat done.

I’d started in the discontinued, densely-spun Zara 14 and my first attempt at matching its thickness for the second stripe had failed–but after yesterday’s mail, I could do it now.

Electric blue and black was the verbal request with the artist’s rendering, chunky yarn specifically hoped for.

Found both colors from the same line after all.

It came out very stretchy and short one blue stripe, being long enough for a good fold-up brim already. (Not to mention my running out of blue.) But I did get that bit of brightness at the top thing going on just like she did and it tickles me no end.

Meantime, look what opened up. In September!



Face up to it
Monday September 18th 2017, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Richard: “I didn’t know it bothered you that much.”

Me: “I didn’t know it did at all either–because I couldn’t do anything about it, so I didn’t let myself think about it.”

In the months after my 40th birthday, life gifted me with a mole on the side of my face. One takes new and uneven dark skin lesions to the doctor, and I did, and got told, welcome to getting older, honey. (Me: at 40?!) The guy was clearly amused that I would be worried about something so ordinary–whereas me, I was trying to take seriously all the advice I’d ever been given on the subject and felt a little put down. I knew I’d had a sunburn as a teen bad enough to bleed if you so much as touched me. Hello Swedish/British/Scottish ancestors, I got me some risk factors. So I came in.

So that was that.

I was at the dermatologist’s this afternoon to get something else checked out. She always notes that one mole under the side of my glasses when she sees me and is always very reassuring, saying that age spots can change shape and size and it sounds bad but it’s not, you just have to keep an eye on them is all.

Today, though, she looked at it and considered it a good moment. “That’s bigger than it used to be.”

“Yes, quite a bit.” With a shape now as if Florida had shrunk in the wash like a cheap sock.

She considered, decided not to biopsy, but asked if I’d like it frozen off and just be done with it? I surprised myself by how vehemently I blurted out, “YES!!!”

Dang, should have done that ages ago. I’d somehow thought it was too big for freezing–but did I ask? No. Duh. Man does it feel good to have my own face back. Yes the process takes a few weeks to work but it already looks better.

And I’m thinking of the optician we saw (on Saturday for the Xth time, still trying to get those new glasses done right.) The one who asked me if I liked this pair here and I answered, “Yes; they accentuate my mole nicely.” He and his colleague next to him totally cracked up.

Now I can tell him they’d made it go poof! See? You go put those dermatologists right out of business!

(Except that then I wouldn’t be able to finish projects in their waiting rooms. Malabrigo Mechita, Whales Road, the second half of a skein drying now.)



Accelerating
Sunday September 17th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

J did a little dance coming out of church today: “And *I* have a cowl!” The other J I gave to on the same day was wearing hers.

I think people are beginning to notice. Which means my knitting needs to go faster. I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re the last one–although, I explained to someone, it’s random, it depends on what I see someone wearing that matches what’s in my stash….

So, twenty down and a bajillion to go.

The Knitpicks yarn came yesterday and the friend’s daughter whose hat it’s for wrinkled her nose when I showed her the other yarn that had looked more pink online but wasn’t and then her face lit up when I showed her the Knitpicks Chroma I’d bought to replace it with–and thank you all for the recommendation.

Someone else, when asked her favorite color, hemmed and hawed and said, Green. …And orange. And yellow. That’s it! Green and orange and yellow.

I think that first hat skein may have just found its rightful home (or even if not that one, once it’s knit up someone will latch onto it. I’ll have to knit it to find out how the colorway turns out in real life.) The stash giveth and the stash cometh quickly away.

Next week is General Conference, which we watch online, which means I have an extra week to pull off a whole lot of–we’ll see.



Neck afghan
Friday September 15th 2017, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Spinning

Somewhere between these two attempts at showing the color was the knitting equivalent of reading a big-print book. Next time I’ll spin up fewer plies, but it did the job (on size US 9 needles no less) and got it done in a day. 

Note to self: quick, go run in the ends and block the thing to make an honest statement out of that sentence.



Cerulean
Thursday September 14th 2017, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Spinning

A former law school classmate of my son lives here these days.

I checked: she wasn’t in sight. “What’s your wife’s favorite color?” Quickly followed by an assurance it was okay if he didn’t know, most men when cornered with that question are unsure.

He was sure. “Cerulean.” With a little nod of the chin in emphasis.

Well then that’s what it was going to be. And thus commenced over a week of no-driving-no-yarn-store stash diving and considering. Dyepot? Wheel? I do have some sock weight–it’s just that it’s all mixed in with shades of green. Amazing how uniform my stash was on that count. I know I…

Right. I knitted it all up and I gave it all away.

(They’re a little lighter in real life.)

My back didn’t want to do wheel time and I didn’t want to ply that laceweight but I also didn’t want to guess at getting the right blue nor have to haul that heavy pot around–and then goof.

This was the one sure thing. And not only that, it was cashmere. I had 50g, 50g, and lots of grams. Just one hour. And by 3×2-plying the stuff, it will knit up quickly once it’s dry.

(It’s a little brighter in real life and there’s no purple to it.)

Guess what tomorrow’s going to be about?



Happy Anniversario
Wednesday September 13th 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life,Music

So I had this hank of yarn.

Actually, I had three, in two dye lots of Malabrigo’s Anniversario colorway, which I really really like. So this one skein that didn’t quite match the others decided it had waited long enough and it was tired of being just another pretty yarn–knit ME now, ME! It reminded me that it was Stitches yarn, and not only Stitches yarn but Imagiknit yarn and I adore Allison at Imagiknit and that made it all the more enticing.

But whatever. This. It was not what I had planned on but it was suddenly the boss of me.

I cast on and did the first repeat last night before bed because it’s always easier to keep going than to get started.

Now, I usually turn on some music to knit by because I’ve done so for enough years that it’s become Pavlovian: music. Knit. In time to the beat. To the point that I stop the sound if I want to rest my hands and go do something else for awhile.

The Anniversario was compelling to the point that I didn’t even go fishing through albums to see what to put on, I simply sat down and worked away at it.

Mid-afternoon I suddenly realized I’d been half-listening all along after all. Just one song. Over and over again in my head and waiting for me to notice. And in the moment I did I suddenly realized what it was and how very long it had been since I’d heard it.

From the musical that I saw in high school–in Ford Theater (yes that Ford theater: “But other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”) Scoring tickets for it was a big deal at the time and there was a group of us kids that went together.

Godspell. The song, beginning as a small voice barely discernible calling from afar, drawing nearer and nearer: “Pree-ee-ee-pare ye the way of the Lord.”

In that moment I knew for sure this one was not for me no matter how much I love it–and that felt wonderful.

Picture taken in the early afternoon, two-thirds of a cowl ago: and it is finished.



Storms and hummingbirds and hats. Not in that order.
Monday September 11th 2017, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

Started the first hat for the foster kid but the dense black was spun so differently from the blue that even though they were within 10% of each other yardage per grams-wise, in real life there was no way to have the number of stitches work: either the black would be too big for the kid’s head or the blue in the next stripe too small to squeeze into. I would have known this in a heartbeat had I seen them in person first. And this, kids, is why we support our local yarn shops (when we can get there. And it wasn’t Webs’ fault; I didn’t ask.)

Meantime, the yarn I’d ordered for the other girl was felt to have more orange than was quite ideal (per the mom, after I asked her to be honest about it) and so I ordered her the Chroma from Knitpicks as you guys recommended. I want these kids to love what they get. I really do. And I can always use another ball of superwash merino around here.

And for the kid who wanted hers chunky, I went to Imagiknit, as one does, and ordered some Malabrigo Mecha, which is probably what I should have started with in the first place.

And now on a completely random note, I always wondered if a hawk would ever bother trying to catch a hummingbird, given how much work it would be to chase such a speedy little not quite amuse-bouche. The answer is pretty much not only no, but that hummingbirds seek out hawks’ nests to nest near themselves: because jays are big predators of hummingbird nests and Cooper’s hawks are big predators of jays. More details here.

I now understand better the photo Eric of the peregrine falcon group once gifted me with, showing a hummer buzzing near the matriarch Clara’s face while she looked on, bemused.

And in other wildlife news, we had a young squirrel on the fence today, staring: too young, apparently, to have ever seen water fall out of the sky before and he didn’t quite know what to make of this concept of randomly getting wet or what he was supposed to do about it.

I remember telling my kids when they were young that in my growing up, there were warm summer rains that would clean the air on a hot muggy day and cool things down a bit. But the rain itself. Rain was supposed to be warm and inviting in the heat of July or August.

I got scoffing disbelief in response. Mom. It does not rain in summer. Two, rain is always, always cold.

And yet today, at long last, we had a hot muggy summer day–and it rained. It wasn’t quite a warm rain but it was close enough to prove the possibility. Thunder and lightning, too (a little too close) and then the rain. We had a good old East-coast deluge, briefly, so much so that I even turned the computer off, wondering if the lights would go out. We have never had the lights go out in a storm in all our years here but you never know.

It let up. I turned the computer back on. So of course then it started again, hard.

And again, it let up and then started in again.

A fourth round pounded the roof after dinner.

For a grand total of (roll the drums) .1″.

Oh California. Thank you. You tried.



Seeing red
Sunday September 10th 2017, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Another impromptu-on-Sunday story for you.

In the morning, I put the red cowl that a friend had requested in my purse. She’d seen it in progress and had been looking forward to it. It was an exact match to her favorite skirt.

And that was going to be it, given that I spent the week spinning for the most part and didn’t get much knitting done.

But. There was another one in a worsted-weight merino, a little thicker, superwash, thus nice and practical when you don’t know how it’ll be treated later, and also red. I’d made it awhile ago and had wondered who it was for and then had put it aside and forgotten all about it. It was just waiting, is all. My brain damage can’t walk around in that shade without worsening my balance but I still liked it enough to knit it. I figured it would tell me soon enough.

Somehow it was right there front and center when I went to pick up the other cowl and it leaped out of its ziploc: you need to take me, too!

Okay, I was game–and curious.

We have an elderly friend who spends half her year here and half her year near her daughter Marie near Seattle. She comes when she comes and goes when she goes and I never quite know when that’s going to be.

Marie had come with her mom to help get her settled back into her old house. And so they were both here.

Marie exclaimed over me, as glad to see a familiar old face as I was to see hers; I adore her mom and her mom raised great kids.

And in that moment I knew and I knew that that was my chance to give it to her in person: “Do you like red?”

Marie looked at me like, Wait… When you are the person asking that question… But why yes she did, she liked red! (And clearly she couldn’t wait to know what this was all about.)

I reached into my purse barely looking down and the worsted-weight one came right to hand. Which meant I didn’t have to apologize if she liked the slightly different shade of the other better; neither one of us had to know. Besides, Malabrigo makes nice wools. Really nice.

Up in the Pacific Northwest, she told me in delight as she patted its softness after putting it on, even in summer she often finds herself with something around her neck for that extra bit of warmth. She loved it. (And then given that it was a 90F day here, she took it back off for now. As one does.)

The kicker is that there was no sign of the friend the other cowl had been promised to, and I’m going to try to deliver it during the week. But what it did this morning was to help me see it wasn’t enough and that somehow I needed another red.

I just had to say yes so I could find out why. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I took both.



Begin: the rest is easy
Monday September 04th 2017, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Spinning

Mom! Something’s wrong! That thing is noisy!

He concurred: It is, dear.

Oh. Sorry, guys.

So I oiled the wheel and they and it still squawked. I told them I would take care of the rest as soon as I finished this bobbin so I could oil the shaft it was on. And that did it.

This morning I was looking at some cones of near-white 30/70 cashmere/merino (link correct now) and palest beige merino that had been bought to help me finish off some very old stash of brown cashmere laceweight single ply that was far too thin and fragile to knit as is. Last night I had set four cones together and considered how they actually looked together. Today they didn’t want to be admired, they wanted to be plied, now!

Plans vs inspiration: having wanted to want to work on this for some time, now that I actually wanted to do it, do it!

I weighed one of the cones of the near-white cones after the first hank was all done to see how much of it I’d used up in the plying. I loved how much more interesting it made the light browns look. (And I can always overdye the result.)

Wow. Looks like I could make probably twenty-five hundred more yards of aran weight. Let’s see how long the enthusiasm holds out, but I won’t stop till I’ve got an afghan’s worth.

Meantime, thank you for the suggestions on the yarn for the girls’ hats. I spent a lot of time thumbing through ideas at Webs, since mobility is still a dicey prospect, and they have just about everything (snagging the domain name of yarn.com early on in the internet surely didn’t hurt.) I finally bought something that, if it isn’t enough colors, I think I can make do from stash.

And while I’m making headway on lots and lots of pale brown, soft, quiet, practical, (and, shhhhh–boring, don’t tell), those colorful hat projects in the middle are going to help me plow through.

Her friend’s wedding done, an airport run, and now it is just us two again.