Freed the 7s
Sunday October 01st 2023, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knit

I knitted the ribbing of the next big afghan project and wanted to dive right into the colorwork. But given that I haven’t even sketched the ideas out, bad as my drawing skills are… I thought maybe I should tell myself I wasn’t quite ready?

Conference sessions called for brainless knits anyway, so I pulled out a long-stalled hat. It’s the usual Malabrigo Mecha but it’s the only skein of it I’ve ever seen that was a mess. Wads and straggles, but at least no breaks.

And yet. It could be the hat it was a few inches towards; I just had to want it to. I didn’t want to. I didn’t even love the colors in the first place, though surely someone out there would.

I picked up those needles (I wanted it off them) and…sat down and made it work. Some kluging was involved (sudden thought: doing a Russian join seems an awkward term to my ears these days. Ukrainian? Who knows where it actually came from?) The hanging-by-a-thread part is now nestled inside a nice soft wad, which got stretched a little first. In the end I got a perfectly fine plain soft washable wool beanie that has nothing wrong with it and that someone out there is going to love.

I finished it. I even ran the ends in, specifically because it was the first day of Aftober, the annual get-out-there-and-finish-something-that’s-been-lagging month named after Afton, who started the tradition.

Although. More and more I’m thinking, you know? It’s not really done. Not till it’s found its person. Because that was always the point.

Thursday September 28th 2023, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Knit

It looked like an apple coddling moth and it could have come inside in one of the ones I picked from the tree. But you never know.

200F for 40 minutes or so, carefully only touching the pan. I don’t remember what temp damages super wash treatment for wools, though I know boiling does, but that’s not an issue with these yarns.

Opening the folds up, the center registered 147F a minute or two after I took it out. I let it cool, then carefully zip locked it away for now.

Doesn’t everybody bake their afghans?

A skill you will use every day for the rest of your life no doubt
Tuesday September 26th 2023, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift


It didn’t absolutely need the framing at the sides, but I like it so much better, as you and I and everyone and anyone knew. One side to go. Thank you!

Edited to add: I wrote this and only then did it hit me: I spent all that time adding the scuffed spot in the grass under the tire swing to give it a sense of motion, the leaves on the flower, snipping the yarn ends, hours counting stitches and doing the ribbing on one side and not only did I not do the door handle, I snipped the end that was going to BE the door handle! Aargh!

So to write down quick what I just did because I got a nice lever handle and I’ll never remember how I did it: I brought the new yarn from below the door frame, crossed it over to the nearest stitch on the door, held that from pulling out while I got out a knitting needle and used the sideways bar I’d just made to knit a stitch into. Then I did a yarn over, then made a third stitch with the bar. Three stitches. Then I crossed the third stitch over the first, then the yarnover over the first, and after pulling the yarn through to knot the end in a point, got the yarn needle (eye type) back out and pulled the  yarn down to the left of what I’d just done to the back. And then I wove in the two new ends.

Oh look at that black stitch that should have been white at the bottom of the door. And guess who just snipped the new white ends off!


63H x 56W
Monday September 25th 2023, 7:34 pm
Filed under: Knit

The most beautiful sound of yarn being broken off.


Click on image for greater details. I would do some things differently the next time, but for flying without a pattern and not being able to visualize how anything would look before it already did, I’m pretty pleased overall. (IDIDITIDIDITIDIDITIDIDIT!!!)

The doorknob! It still needs the doorknob! Almost forgot! And leaves for the flower.

That tire swing. It’s great up close. At thumbnail size I’m a whole lot less sure. Maybe I should add the real-life rock ledge nearby. On the other hand, the clouds for all their intricacies look like a burst of whiteflies chasing a sparrow at thumbnail size, so, hey.

It needed more flowers.

It’s already got ribbing at the sides to match the top and bottom pattern-wise, even if the colors don’t. I’m pretty sure I have enough yarn; would you add dark blue ribbing to the sides to finish framing the picture? Or just leave it be?

Busy day
Saturday September 23rd 2023, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Here, at least, it was single strands rather than doubled. I looked back at the beginning of the piece and counted: when I was using two strands per stitch I had twenty-five balls of yarn going per row plus two pull-through strands. It was taking me four to five hours an inch. And that is why there is only one lonely little flower down there, though there was a daylily patch later: you grab your sanity where you can.

When I got up to the clouds I didn’t want to untangle balls anymore and decided I was fine with breaking off five or six yard lengths, using them up, and pulling them through the blue that had gotten wrapped around and around and around the white after they’d been worked behind each other at every stitch. Along with the ends of those strands every second or third row as they ran out.

I cut out the gray tire-swing chains I didn’t like and replaced them with black so they’d show up against the background and added a stitch to round out the tire better. I embroidered flower petals on the sunflower. I added a beak to the raptor. I finished the clouds yesterday, and the rows above the clouds today, and somehow all of that part is over too now and I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it.

Knit one purl one knit one purl one in dark blue to have the end edging match the beginning edging.

I have been working steadily on this since May. I am eight rows away from being finished. Maybe I should kluge that squirrel idea in there after all.

Which means I’ve been going through my phone and photos online of the C&O Canal, wondering if that’s the picture I knit next. Swain’s Lock, where I accidentally dumped my sister and our cousin over into the canal when I used my paddle to try to keep their rented canoe from hitting ours (the big sisters’) back when we were teens and they were visiting from New Jersey?

Or maybe I shouldn’t remind them.

The Colorado mountains in lace
Wednesday September 20th 2023, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Big Arrows pattern, specifically.

A couple of weeks ago I was at Cottage Yarns for a reason that had nothing to do with that skein of Malabrigo Arroyo that also came home with me. But the colors! And the softness, and the practicality of washable wool when you have no idea where it’s going to go when you’re done.

It wanted to be a cowl on 3.75mm needles and it became my carry-around project immediately no matter what my plans had been. I got a good enough start on it in the Urgent Care room waiting for Richard that working on it became a self-fulfilling knitacy.

I worked on it on the plane Friday and finished it that night in the hotel room, running in the end, rinsing to get the crumples out of the lace, squeezing the water out, wrapping it in a towel and standing on the towel, then hanging it over the shower rod: I wanted that thing dry by morning.

And in the desert air it almost was.

By the time of the funeral a few hours later it completely was.

My cousin Amy greeted person after person after person after person and loved every one of us in the extremity of her loss.

The moment I saw her I knew. I mean, by that point the offer was planned, but…!

I gave her that cowl from that impulse purchase. All of those random knit-this-first feelings, the hours spent, the medical waiting-room times of my own. The airport. The flight. The ‘I see you and I am coming’ behind it.

It wasn’t just a collection of good colors on her in mostly blue: it matched the dress she had chosen to say goodbye to her beloved husband with us in. It totally matched. She marveled.

Kevin was looking out for her still.


Edited to add for my mom, who’s not on Facebook: Kevin’s daughter went to scatter her dad’s ashes, and at the place where he had talked about in a random conversation about the somedays, she found herself suddenly afraid somehow that the ashes would blow back in her face. Her cousin suggested a different spot nearby with a beautiful view of the river below. They went there and the family piled out to see, whereupon her grandmother told them that that: that was the spot where her husband had proposed to her 76 years earlier.

The daughter read a poem, her uncle said a prayer, the young children took it all in alongside the adults, the great-grandmother stood there with her loved ones, quietly remembering, remembering, and as Amy’s daughter described it, I am so sad and everything is beautiful.

Did the horse take off yet?
Wednesday August 30th 2023, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I’d been kind of avoiding going back to the site of the skewering but it needed doing and not doing it was bothering me more. So.

I tried several methods and had to go back to the original. Next choice, while chain stitching those cross boards: a stitch too big or a stitch too small?

The white cashmere/cotton is the one that’s going to shrink the most, and the red part is certainly going to be stretched across whatever body will be under it, so clearly let’s go for too big, for now, even if it drives a part of my brain nuts.

After much experimenting, I finally ended up skewering the crosses downwards at the center, then finishing tacking down by skewering again with the other side of the yarn and working the two ends in underneath.

Given the old age of the building, having the doors a bit saggy for now works anyway, right?

Okay then. Barn doors: closed.

Alright, blue sky yarn, I’m ready for you. Royal Mail said yesterday that it has left the UK.

Icepacked after lunch
Tuesday August 22nd 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

I don’t normally get that much done in a day, but then I didn’t get that much else done in the day. At all. Because I was doing this. The thing did speed up a whole lot when I was done with seven of the strands.

An oh by the way is that I read the Washington Post quoting a 114-year-old woman yesterday saying, Anything the Lord gave you, use it!

Yes, ma’am!

Thank you for all the great ideas. I knew it wasn’t hard but it just wasn’t coming to me. The two tall rectangles on the far left need those Xs, the middle one doesn’t, the big door on the right has just a few more rows to go and then it’s ready for its set of four and I plan to do them all at once.

Just let me straighten out that wonky window a bit.

The thought occurs to me: the real one would be 114 years old.

3-D or not 3-D, that is the question
Wednesday August 16th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

While waiting for the red yarn to be absolutely dry before winding it up into balls, this happened.

Barbara Walker’s Paving Stones pattern, multiples of four stitches (+1, she says, but I was working in the round, so, not +1) so I used 72 and then decreased in nine sets across. Etc. Malabrigo Mecha, size 5 for the ribbing, 7 for the rest, and I have a person in mind for it but I’m going to offer it as one of several choices so they get what they actually want.

I wanted to make a brown hat. I was not able in four stores to find any of it in that color, in person nor online, but I had half an older skein left; this took it to the last couple of yards but it made it.

I did say to Richard when I was showing it off, If you put this on does it make you a bobblehead?

The other thought: since there are no cables sustaining the depth in the texture, when this pattern gets wet it deflates to flatness. In which case the hat will be polka dots. It’s a risk someone will have to take.

If at first you don’t succeed, dry, dry again
Tuesday August 15th 2023, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Knit

USPS this morning said Thursday, Royal Mail said the local office has it, and dang. Busted, I guess? They put it on the truck after all.

The mail came at 5:30: the red for the barn! There is thankfully no pink tinge this time–that’s just a pigment of the camera’s imagination.

I had ordered a large cone. They give you a discount if you click the box for not making them wind it off into smaller ones, and yet, I had said I was knitting it doubled–and they wound it off onto two because they could, so that I could knit it straight up as is if I wanted. It was a nice little surprise. Thank you, Colourmart.

(I wanted it wound off and scoured first, though. It preshrinks it a little and it makes it feel so much softer to work with.)

Two plus hours and a fast dinner later, I had all 2600+ meters hanked up, the mill oils washed out in hot water, and they’re hanging up to dry.

I can’t wait.

Eleven weeks till Halloween
Sunday August 13th 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Sore throat yesterday morning, stayed home, missed a potluck last night, missed seeing friends at church: a throwback to the During times, made easier by Zoom church and the Zoom knitting group that offered actual human interaction, with a big thanks to all who participated there.

Got two hats started out of it: one that needed visual attention and one for the knit meeting that freed my eyes as friends encouraged my hands–egged them on, rather. A fish hat (child size in link) complete with bright stripes and tails and fin and (adult size) fish lips on your forehead?

Trying to remember who it was (probably Elizabeth Zimmerman?) who famously said, People will put anything on their heads.

Yes please!

Thursday August 10th 2023, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Knit

Just before the pandemic I think it was, someone pointed out a website in–I don’t remember if it was Australia or New Zealand, the former I think, of a startup that had gotten permission to raise what would otherwise be an exotic and potentially invasive species to harvest its fur by combing. To try to make cashmere just that old stuff by comparison.

Fox fur.

Huh. Y’know, sheep are a little more docile towards that process–and feeding them–! I thought as I looked at their multiple-$k sweaters out of sheer curiosity because how could one not, I mean, would they go for fast-fashion styles or classic to wear a lifetime. Memory says classic.

I’d give you the link, too, but the company appears long gone as far as I can find. I’m guessing that exotic clothes to impress others had their market drop away while everybody was holed up alone and at home month after month after month after month after month.

And now a yarn store–in Ukraine!–is selling cones of merino/fox yarn. Mill end closeouts from that business seems a logical leap.

I have questions.

My daughter once had a cat that learned to leap at the closet door until it got the handle to turn so that it could get at and destroy her cashmere gloves, and did. Wool, no problem, but goats must die.

If one were to knit and wear something out of that fox fur, how would you ever walk past any dog? If you gifted someone something from it, surely you would have to forewarn them?

I’m picturing some of the early adopters patronizing that business while it lasted (maybe it’s actually still out there?) and wondering what experiences they had with them and and and. So many questions.

Like, who was the first person to stroke a fox and think there ought to be a yarn made out of that?

I would wonder if maybe the whole thing was an April Fool’s prank that someone forgot to take down on April 2.

Except that that yarn really is for sale.

And that was who
Friday August 04th 2023, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knit,Life

The email from Cottage Yarns said that starting next week the shop will be closed for two weeks for their vacation.

I had been meaning for over a month to get up there to replenish my Mecha supply for Zoom hat knitting.

There was this persistent thought…and I wondered, Is this just me? Or should I? So I did what I do and said a prayer: if You want me to do this, then please make it so obvious that I will never question whether I got it right or not. Help it be unmistakeable. Either way, please bless my friends, separate from any of that–they’re such good people.

I pictured her needing to attend to customers with questions, and thought in no way do I want to do anything that would distract her from what she needs to do to earn a living (I know the rent there is crazy) and sometimes it gets pretty busy, especially right before a long break like that. I put it in G_d’s hands to handle the details and I would try to take my cues from that.

I got ready and headed on up there, hoping.

There was no other customer in there the whole time:

I walked in that door and Kathryn’s face lit up, delighted to see me, and then she immediately exclaimed over my gerdan. What was that? I told her how to spell it: like garden, only with the e and the a switched. Her husband wanted to know, How was it made?

Glass beads woven on a small loom. Made for me by a woman in Ukraine, where these are traditional.

They follow the news on Ukraine closely, they told me, and we talked about today’s developments. The listing warship that was towed away by the Russians after Ukraine’s successful drone.

Kathryn is far from the gushing type, but wow, that necklace: the flowers that looked so realistic, the wheat at the top, the sunflower at the bottom. So pretty. She just couldn’t get over it.

I showed her the picture of my sister’s afghan so far, and turns out they’d been watching the Little League games. They might even have seen Parker, and even the possibility delighted us all.

I waited till she’d rung up my yarn.

“I planned this,” I told her, pulling out the little box that the gerdan had come in inside the shipping box. I quickly took it off my neck and held it out to her along with its box. While she stood there speechless, I took out an identical box from the same artist, took out the big sunflower gerdan and put that one on me.

I have several, I told her, and every time I’m out and about it makes someone’s day to see me wearing one. Ukrainians know what it is and they feel the support it conveys. You see more people than I do. You can do more than I can alone. This was meant for you.

I told her that I had felt strongly to give one to a friend, a retired NASA rocket scientist I kid you not, and ordered this one made–but she had picked a different one. Which is fine. What I didn’t know was that she was teaching classes to help Ukrainian refugees assimilate and they took one look at her walking into class after that wearing a gerdan and they knew exactly what it was and what it meant and how much their teacher loved them, visibly loved them.

And yet I still I had this other one. I have always really liked it–but I had wondered who it was meant to be for, because it had always felt like it was waiting, somehow. And today I finally knew.

I knew it was just her colors.

What I didn’t know is that all her childhood she had declared that she was going to be a florist when she grew up. “And look at me,” she laughed, holding her arms up, taking in the sweep of the room, embracing it all: “I’m a yarn store owner!”

Wearing flowers so beautifully created? To support Ukraine and her people?

It meant the world to her to be able to. She had never known such a thing existed.

I told her I had promised Oleksandra that I would wear her sunflower gerdan in celebration the day Ukraine wins the war.

“I will wear mine, too,” Kathryn promised. She laughed again, adding that she would on her vacation, too! And a whole lot of other days! She loved it so much.

They’re going to visit the area where she grew up, near my oldest, and near one of their children.

I came away from that conversation thinking, and I bet you’re going to find the perfect place, buy it, be done with your unpleasant LYS landlord and move away and my favorite yarn store will be gone forever. I selfishly hope not.

But wherever they go, love will be there because that is who they are and what they do.

A half-step of Ostrich Plumes
Tuesday August 01st 2023, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

(Picture: wet and blocking in bright direct sunlight.)

Started this merino/silk laceweight in April, then the afghan project took over. It’s not abandoned, it’s bedside: I often, but not always, knit one row on it before calling it a night. Gradually that adds up even though it feels like it couldn’t possibly.

I took it with me to a routine doctor appointment today after a brief inner moment of should I take the afghan, vs are you out of your freaking mind, honey?

That good doctor talks to her patients and she listens to her patients and so she tends to be a bit behind and you know I know how to be glad of that extra time.

And as I worked I thought, Y’know? Feather and Fan? It’s the Chopsticks on the piano of lace knitting. Cliched, repetitive, tiresome, unimaginative, All That Lace Ever Is to the utter novice (meaning, once upon a time specifically me) –and yet. Hey, listen to those little kids play. Look at how that hand dyeing needed that particular pattern applied to it, it just did, no other one could have created an effect that matched the dye work like that. Anything else would just have chopped it all up. Rainbows are supposed to come arch shaped.

(Laying flat, it’s 67″. Maybe a few more. But it will stretch of its own weight when I pick it up after it dries, the silk in it will do that, so I’ll have to try it out first.)

Oh and? Thyroid, blood tests, blahblahblah but the thing I really wanted to know? While half-apologizing for wasting her time over what might not even exist?

When I took that hard fall in the garden May last year that knocked my teeth lose and my nose is still faintly red–she said I’m right, it did: the bone at the front of my chest where I bounced off of has piled on more bone there.

My body is trying to wrap me in bubble wrap. But it’s okay, we’re good.

Okay, so, what’s the next big carry-around project?

I got to it later
Monday July 31st 2023, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

A friend dropped by and we spent a goodly amount of time catching up. It was great. She loved the afghan. Loved how much it matched the real-life version I was trying to picture with it.

At one point, she exclaimed, You should be knitting!

I laughed. I’m on an easier section right now, yes, but that means only six areas of color, five of them in balls and one that has to be pulled through, and to work on that and flip all the strands over from row to row while talking would be like trying to solve Rubik’s cubes while juggling them.