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.

 



The widows might
Sunday April 15th 2018, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I laughed. I told Jean, You wore that quiet green last week, and so (I held up the sage-green cowl) but it doesn’t go with that sweater at all!

Then to her delight I offered her not just the green but (reaching into the bag again) the purple and the purpley-brown to choose from.

For me?!

She complimented them all. But that purple! Oh, she loved that purple, all the more once she touched it. (That was the Chateau cowl, the braided baby alpaca.)

Then she explained the sweater: her husband had bought it for her years ago; she had felt him close to her all week, and so she’d wanted to bring it to church today.

(And him along with it, I thought. He was a good one. I could just picture him looking on in delight.)

It was in neon shades of brightness, varying colors in diamonds and angles, a cheerful piece of clothing straight out of a modern art museum (said the daughter of the modern art dealer, debating between Piet Mondrian and some of his contemporaries.)

Mona Jo, sitting next to her, when offered a To Be Continued if she preferred something else, happily chose the brown-almost-purple knit from Woolfolk, also extraordinarily soft.

A little later, Gail, a knitter in her younger days, was wearing a skirt in a sage green plaid. That sage green cowl went exactly with her strawberry blonde hair, too. Wool and mink? Mink?! She laughed and held it to her as if to say, Ta Daah! I got mink! It went right on and it stayed on. It wasn’t very big because I didn’t have very much of that mink left, but she told me how warm that bit around her neck would keep her on our cold mornings.

And so these three widows, lifelong friends who had raised their children here (some of whom are now grandparents themselves) all came away on the same day with a handknit cowl in a color they liked. I thought I was just planning for Jean and letting the rest play out as it might and it all came out absolutely perfect.



Spring leaves, once the stitches were flattened out
Saturday April 14th 2018, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

(It’s greener than this. Photo taken before blocking.)

I would have preferred to have used just the Arroyo dk weight but that would have taken more hours than I had left–so when I found two half-ball remnants of fir-green mink laceweight that matched it and that would smooth out the other’s color changes, I grabbed my size 7s and cast on.

A day later, it’s done. If it’s still damp in the morning it’ll get hairdryered.
Meantime, the still-squirrel-free Stella cherry and the Yellow Transparent apple trees.

A honeybee was happily climbing in and out of those apple flowers.

Tiny baby peaches had shown up overnight on the Indian Free and I thanked those bees for keeping close tabs on the place.



Building its house
Thursday April 12th 2018, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I was hoping to be able to show this off finished, but I’ve simply run out of day. This is about 150 yards into two 98-yard skeins of Chateau on size US 9s. The long-tail end is being used to mark the end of the rows. (I pull it out and move it up every now and then.)



I’ll add some sunlight to that picture in the morning
Tuesday April 10th 2018, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

That Woolfolk leaped out of the stash today and demanded to be done right now. Right. Now. I’d forgotten I even still had a skein, and I was actually in the middle of looking for something else. It quite took me by surprise.

But who was I to argue? (2 grams left. It was close.)



While humming Cat Stevens’ “Into White”
Friday April 06th 2018, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I was bored with white, I was bored with that pattern, but white was what she wanted and I’d promised. It’s not about me, I reminded myself.

I finally started to cast on once I had a tight enough deadline: a waiting room wait, coming up in about an hour minus driving time.

Which is how that pattern happened after all. It was something I could do blindfolded, which is certainly a plus in a carry-around project–and I knew the recipient would love it and that’s the part that mattered. All I had to do was keep pushing away at it till it got done.

And now it’s done!



A son of goodly parents
Saturday March 31st 2018, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

Not a single squirrel so much as ran down that fence line, as far as I saw today. Several times they came down the side fence, stopped, sniffed in the direction of the cherry tree–nuh UH, and turned the other way and disappeared into the yard behind instead. Two new cherry flowers today and they were left alone. Unsweetened grape Kool-aid solution for the win!

The blueberries might need some of that soon.

And over at the needles, beaded silk. It’s Conference weekend, and two two-hour online sessions of watching the leaders of the Mormon Church helped get a lot of knitting done, with an occasional glance over at squirrel antics.

The stunner/not-surprised-in-hindsight was the announcement that someone who grew up in our ward, whose family we know well, was called to be one of the twelve apostles. I cannot think of a better man in every way that they could have asked to represent and offer Christ’s love and compassion to the world. I’m so glad his 91-year-old mom got to live to see the day.

There are two more sessions tomorrow, starting at 9 am and 1 pm Pacific time.  Wishing a joyful Easter to all who celebrate it and every good thing to all.



Celestial lights
Thursday March 29th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift


Knitting-wise, it’s been a fairly slow week, but I finally finished the beaded silk.

I thought it was nice enough. Even if the dye left my fingertips slightly smudgy–I was definitely going to have to wash this. (I just did.)

I broke the 4 gram remnant off at the last and put the cowl on and went to go take a look.

And in that moment I knew why I’d put up with that snaggy little strand the glass beads were strung along on, the loose dye, the beads, the taking more time than I’d intended. It looks like the constellations. It is exactly her sort of thing. It was so worth every minute.

I can’t wait.



It sparkles!
Monday March 26th 2018, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Figs!

The woman at Stitches who’d beaded her yarns herself, when I told her I loved that her glass beads were so small, told me that they kind of had to be or they’d run together in the strand.

Knowing she wasn’t going to be selling me any more (not online anyway) till her show season was over, I went looking for what I could find. I bought some beaded silk yarn from this lady and in talking to her, found out she had some in black, too, and in a bit of a leap of faith ordered a skein of that as well.

I’m so glad I did.

The beads on these are a bit bigger (but not big) and heavier and do tend to come in the occasional clump. Alright then. I just take them as they come and keep on going–part of the pattern of the thing, I figure, and it’s coming out soft and sparkly and absolutely gorgeous. Altogether the most perfect thing I could have found for the person I’m knitting it for.



So he got to look forward to making her happy, too
Sunday March 25th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knitting a Gift,Lupus

My thanks to all those who participated in the March for our Lives yesterday–I would have given anything to join in. But lupus. And sun.

But wow those kids! They are the courage and the conscience of the nation.

Knitting stuff: my friend Karen’s son told me his wife was home with a cold. You should have seen his face light up when I gave him the butter-yellow cowl to take to her–and then the matching hat for their baby on the way. The joy and the love for both of them and the anticipation… I came away feeling how fortunate they were to have each other. That baby is going to grow up in a happy home.



Creamed
Saturday March 24th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

After the afghan, I did a cowl in Malabrigo’s Solis blue/green colorway Thursday and Friday and wondered what to start and for whom. So I said a little prayer: You know who most needs the next thing the soonest.

And out of all my new Stitches stash and all my older stash, you know what answered that? What demanded to be next?

That same cream cashmere/cotton, (mine was a heavier weight) of which there was just enough (that was already scoured) left from that afghan to make a hat.

Again?!

It’s like I can’t get away from that yarn. (Two afghans in six months and another cone waiting to be a third.) I confess I had to let the thought percolate a bit and left it for the morning, and then left it for the afternoon till I finally decided both that I was being ridiculous and needed to get to it–and till it had come to me what pattern to use. Till I knew, and I did, exactly what pattern it had to be. Maybe not for the recipient’s sake but for mine.

A cream, almost white hat with cotton.

Like the one that was my mother-in-law’s… (Where did I post that story?) Only this time it would not vanish into the wild.

I had gotten my late mother-in-law’s chemo caps sent back to me after her death, and on impulse I had grabbed one to wear out to dinner with friends on a chilly evening. None of us ever saw it again. I retraced my steps, I called the restaurant, but it was gone.

And yet mixed with that great sense of loss–I had made that for MomH!–was this strong feeling that all was not actually lost, that it had gone to someone who needed it. It was cotton. It was non-allergenic. It was pretty. It was warm, because I had knitted it doubled fingering weight on size 3 needles, an aching task (especially with those cables) that I could only put a couple of rows into a day but I did it for her.

And now for someone else, whoever they were. I might not know them but they were known to G_d, and there was a comfort there that I did not expect and it has stayed with me whenever I’ve thought about that hat.

So. Cream, almost white. Half cotton, half cashmere, bigger needles, easier to work with, so soft. Make it just like Mom’s had been. A cable going sideways around the head, stitches picked up lengthwise to knit straight up from there, curving decreases in a pinwheel at the top.

I knew exactly who it was for and I couldn’t wait to give it to her and now it is done and I can.

This time, since the recipient isn’t a tender-headed woman balded by chemo, it has a tag inside saying who made it for her. If somehow it should get lost, it can make its way back.



For my daughter by another mother
Wednesday March 21st 2018, 6:39 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Two rows of 269 stitches–because I wanted it warm and dense since it’s for a home in snowy Maine–that were then scrunched in by two rows of 181 stitches. Repeated seventy times, fifty minutes per repeat.

I just ran past the finish line on a 3500 minute marathon. Add in the casting on and off, and that was a 59 hour project.

I guess it’s not so bad that it took me so long.