The cache’s out of the bags
Wednesday November 27th 2019, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Knit

Four white afghans out of six in two years. Because you can’t go wrong with gifting someone with 50/50 pima cotton/highest grade cashmere, and it came undyed.

But my brain, my brain. Colors! Save me!

Some of these looked better together here in the sunlight than they do now at night, so not all these will go in. The orange got ripped back out. But these are way more fun to look at.

Mark my woulds
Thursday November 21st 2019, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Knit

Does anybody else do this? I sometimes put a bit of random yarn next to the second stitch in from the edge as I start knitting so that I have a marker to show just how much I’ve gotten done that day and to nudge myself to do better after days when I don’t.

Sixty-eight hundred stitches yesterday was a bit much, though; I mostly gave myself a break today.

Climb every mountain
Wednesday November 20th 2019, 11:31 pm
Filed under: History,Knit

Impeachment hearings, the Democratic debate: given Sondland’s testimony today, we could impeach the entire administration. Think of the knitting time!

Home, home on the range
Friday November 08th 2019, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Knit

The eagle is begun and done and now for the mountains.

This time, I wanted the mountain range to be a better match to the view where they live, so I spent a lot of time looking at photos, both online and some I took in September–and I actually did a pretty good job knitting that skyline the first time, especially on the left.

The new ones have begun.

Saturday November 02nd 2019, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,LYS,Politics

I was at Fillory yesterday, sitting at the large table there visiting with friends and knitting away as people came and went around us, when I found myself getting up to check on the yarn they were winding up for me.

Usually I start off by picking out a skein, paying for my afternoon’s entertainment with it, then pulling up a chair to knit the previous week’s ball into a hat while the staff turns the new hank into a ready-to-knit ball and then they come and bring it over to me. There’s a line at the ballwinder? I’m in no hurry.

But that all just felt too passive this time.

There was a customer I don’t remember seeing before: browsing, going to the clerk to ask a question, looking around some more, kind of hanging back from other people the whole time. She’d been in there about ten minutes.

It wasn’t the head scarf that caught my eye, it was that she seemed so unsure of herself. Maybe she was a beginner and we all looked like experts to her.

But maybe not. Her clothes and accent marked her as an immigrant, I’m guessing from Africa, and I know that rather than the welcoming country we used to be our government has of late made it harder for those not born here, no matter how they arrived, to feel at home.

Often of a Friday afternoon every seat of that table is filled, but this time there were several nice chairs open. Good. I invited her to come and sit and knit with us, if she would like to.

You should have seen the transformation in her face! She had not expected to be welcomed. She had not expected to be claimed as belonging.

Practically speaking, she probably didn’t know if it was a formal class or group or what, but clearly, intruding on it would never have occurred to her. That particular good time and camaraderie she was quietly observing over there was for others.

But we were just random people and she had every right to be right there with us. I knew that it would make our group all the better if she did.

She smiled and shook her head no.

But she was just transformed and she stayed happy and that made all the difference to me, too.

A Costco-sized bag of Hersheys
Thursday October 31st 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

So this is fun.

Or not.

I could just rip out all seven pine trees to get down to an easier do-over. Tried four times to make it come out looking right. Any variation on the concept will do at this point.

And then I ditched it for the evening, because trick or treaters were coming and you don’t want to have to break the concentration, right? Riiight. It does actually look a little better than this at this point but it’s amazing how much time can disappear into so few stitches. And no, just working them straight up as a solid piece and disappearing the dandelion forever won’t work–look how much extra yarn there is by the time you get to the top. All those yarn overs.

What it needed was a double-pointed needle at every stitch. Got it.

I didn’t want to lose 3000 stitches in a grand frog-for-all but at this point I probably might as well have.

Meantime, the neighborhood posted a map of who’s giving out candy, and in the large square block, that would be us and all of two other homes, the three of us being the points on a large triangle.

Not a single kid came. We were just too far out of their way. But I did get to wear my dad’s jewels-colored jester hat!

Color Guard
Tuesday October 29th 2019, 8:41 pm
Filed under: Knit
(Photo by Carolyn Richards)

Two men approaching. Turning in tandem just so. Lifting then folding the flag that had been draped over the coffin. Smoothing it down in a crisp motion. Again. Again.

The one striding in controlled, perfect steps to Mom, bowing low with the now-three-sided flag in his hands, thanking her for Dad’s service to our country and then placing the token in hers.

I was sitting next to her watching his eyes looking straight into hers and it was deeply moving.

I know it’s memorized and rehearsed. And yet–how often now do those two young soldiers get to pay their respects to the new widow of a WWII vet? To honor her as well. Our Greatest Generation.

May our country do the same for their families, hopefully seventy or so years away, when it is their turn.

Raspberry sherbet baby hat
Thursday October 24th 2019, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Knit

I’m still having a hard time squeezing my whole Dad into something so confined as a blog post or two, so a bit of knitting instead.

The yarn was a gift and not one I’d used before, but it said baby and it was a superwash wool and it didn’t require a trip to the yarn store to get, so, hey. I grabbed it for my carry on bag last week and some needles and finished a baby hat out of it just before the flight home landed.

Threes or even twos would have been better. But I didn’t pack them so 4 US needles it was. It came out more for cold indoors than blustery weather out, but that’s fine, there’s lots of indoors, too.

I ran the ends in and mailed it northward today.

(P.S. If you should happen to have a Procrastiknitting mug like this with a ball of pink yarn with two straight needles through it pictured on the other side, much though I like mine, test it. The handle got hot first in the microwave which suggests there’s lead in it, so I use it by the computer to hold pens. Particularly don’t put anything acidic in it to drink.)

It’s blue, anyway
Thursday October 10th 2019, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Knit

Well, if I want to say I added another hat to the pile for the guy to choose from I’d better go hurry and finish the thing.

Pouring the new chocolate
Tuesday October 08th 2019, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Knit

Saturday night, working together: hold the heavy bowl, pour, I can do that part your back’s bothering you you flatten with the knife–fill one mold, two, three…eight, nine…

And a half. Well we’ll just give it a bit of a swirl as we scrape the last cooling bits off the spatula so it’s not just random blops wherever.

The Madagascar variety turned out to be a particularly strong chocolate with an acidity your throat will notice. The Chocolate Alchemist had warned that it warrants roasting this one just right, so for once we’d let him do that part for us.

It wasn’t till the batch had set that we realized what we’d made. It so fits.

Turn the ship! Here Be (just one) Dragon!

Sunday October 06th 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

The woman at Fillory who helped me find a sturdily washable worsted merino? She also happened to mention a favorite baby alpaca shawl she’d made, that she adored, that her husband was stunned to find that the shrunken mess he’d just pulled out of the laundry had been that. He didn’t quite believe it could be till she affirmed it.

I remembered how crushed my son-in-law was at how badly those first handknit hats for his baby had miniaturized.

I’d thought I could stretch any possible shrinking out because of the silk. I was so wrong.

That all stewed in my brain for a few days and then today at the start of two more two-hour blocks of Conference watching, I went into the stash room, pulled out an 1175 gram cone of that cashmere/cotton 50/50, and cast on.

I just couldn’t do that to him again. Or my daughter or their daughter. That baby alpaca/silk blanket was marvelous but it had to find its own purpose later.

The highest grade of both cashmere and cotton, the listing said. I believe.

I’ve gotten to see a baby blanket I’d made out of it after it had gone through a year of both washer and dryer. It wasn’t fluffy anymore but it was still very very soft. This was not going to be a come-down.

I don’t really have to worry anymore about the cotton part not being warm enough, which is the reason I didn’t use it in the first place–they’ll have moved away from Alaska by the time they get it, which I didn’t know then. But which is why they don’t already have the original: they didn’t want to worry about losing it in the move.

That’s still an Alaskan-born baby it’s for and I figure she still needs that landscape and her moose, and so does her daddy, who’s leaving the area he’s lived in since childhood.

I’ve finished the seed stitch bottom edge.

This time I have more than a sketch on a page to go by and the little details that I thought of after the fact that I wished I’d done I can now do. It will be better than the original.

Cold feet
Thursday October 03rd 2019, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Knit

39, 38, 46, 37, 39.

Our outside thermometer readings these last five mornings a half hour after sunrise.

Good thing I started zipping up the mango tree at night, but what on earth is it doing being in the 30s here in September and October?? The average low is supposed to be 55. Next thing you know we’ll be making snowmen.

Honey, honey, baby
Wednesday October 02nd 2019, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life
Lily on our last day in Anchorage

It was some peach baby alpaca spun loosely to keep it as soft as possible, with a bit of bamboo thrown in to keep it together. I saw it at Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco in August and my instant thought was, the Honeyladies owner recovering from being shot at the Gilroy Garlic Festival: she’s a redhead. Surely that would be a great color on her.

So I went home and sat right down and knit it into a cowl and didn’t take a picture yet and then forgot all about it in the drop-everything-and-run-to-Alaska-tomorrow thing after Lily arrived early.

I came home to a spoonful left at the bottom of the first bottle of Poison Oak Blossom.

Trying to avoid more fattening desserts, I’m again dipping a fresh fork in there several times a day. Skip the baklava and go straight to the heart of the thing. It’s less sweet than many types and darkly caramel and thick and lovely, but I’d only bought so many bottles at Andy’s Orchard.

The second one was going down fast. This called for reinforcements.

So after making sure I had the right place, today I went to the Honeyladies’ part-time store and bought a half gallon of the stuff because there is no honey like that honey.

I didn’t quite ask it right and the person who let me in didn’t quite understand why I would be asking so she didn’t get what I was asking and so maybe that was my answer. To, essentially: you guys rescue bees and property owners who suddenly find themselves with an uninvited swarm. Is the Poison Oak Blossom a one-time run and done with the bees now removed from there, or are there honeybees currently employed amongst such?

She answered in terms of seasonality.

That implies repetition from year to year, which is great! But I’ll ask more clearly later to be sure.

I waited till the woman had run my card through before saying I had a get-well card for Wendy.

In yarn. I pulled out the ziplock that had that cowl, said what I’d knitted it out of and wished them all my best.

I’d been a stranger and there’d been just a touch of wariness up till that moment, fully understood because a very different stranger had done them so much ongoing harm and pain.

But in that moment I saw it fall away from her as she looked forward to giving and making someone she cared about happy, just like I’d just gotten to do.

We are all in this life thing together.

Hanks for these
Tuesday October 01st 2019, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Knit

The blog innards are being weird (nonce? What’s a nonce and why did it make it go tilt?) so I’m afraid no pictures tonight.

So you’ll just have to take my word for it that there are four large, beautiful hanks of yarn drying in the guest (read: my teenagers grew up) bathroom: wound off their cones, scoured via unscented soap and the hottest water, some of them then put in cold water to try to preshrink them as much as possible and then back in hot to make them shrink more.

Several thousand yards.

All of which went from feeling like dried hairspray from the mill to the lovely, soft, natural-fiber yarns they were spun to be, inviting eyes and hands. It’s not knitting, it’s just preparation for such, but every now and then I just want to see that transformation take place. And then again. And then again.

I thought that was it, but nope, I did one more at the end of the day.

Colourmart got a new toy, a second-hand machine that chains the cobweb yarns they get so much of into an aran weight that more of their customers want, and that last skein was my wanting to see what it would be like when it grew up. I had a single cone. Blue.

When I cut open its bag it was definitely the finest merino: it went boing like a rubber band. But it’s more tightly chained than most such yarns and should have much less problem with catching the needle tips than many braided ones I’ve tried.

Colourmart needs to get that machine cranking because the washable Zegna Baruffa Cashwool spun up like that could turn into my favorite afghan yarn fast.

Time to get that head warm again
Friday September 27th 2019, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,LYS

The newborn size hat on the right was the one I made on the plane from the Plymouth superwash merino I bought our last full day in Alaska, knitted as a twin to what the white one had been.

I took these to Fillory Yarns today. One employee, when I described what had happened, said, well with the 50% silk content on the one you could maybe stretch it.

I guffawed and showed her the one on the upper left, saying, that had been my thought too till I saw it.

So my question of the day was, which wool could go through the washer *and* the dryer? Because it’s going to. And I don’t mind but I don’t want the kids disappointed again.

We read labels together. We both swooned over a particular superwash merino/silk/yak mix in the most gorgeous shimmering deep red, such perfect softness for a new baby, but there was just no way to know.

Finally she reached over to one of the less expensive lines and said, My grandsons do everything to the sweaters I made them out of this and they’ve come out okay.

It was the same Plymouth wool. I guess I lucked out up north after all. I touched a few skeins and somehow the bright red, a color my daughter loves, was softer than the white, which felt like my skein of white: certainly not bad at all, but not like cashmere. Huh. Usually it’s the dyeing process that diminishes the softness ever so slightly; I have no idea why this was the opposite, other than that red just got luckier in its choice of individual sheep?

A skein of it came home with me. I should already have mailed the white hat. I hope to get two to the post office come Monday.