Today
Sunday June 25th 2017, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

Blink. They’re what?! (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, some other friends moved out of their rental house after the landlord doubled the rent, which had already been high, and it’s gone up that much again since.)

Vivian, I heard…?

“I don’t want to move again!” But yes, it looked like they were, and in the next week at that.

“But I haven’t knit for you yet!” As if that could keep them here. I don’t want them to leave.

It was like I’d thrown her a lifeline of something positive to hold onto in the stress of uprooting with kids and she answered with emotion, “I would LOVE to have something hand knit from you!”

“Alright, what colors. What are your favorite colors…”

“All of them!” and then, “Orange.”

Orange? Somehow that surprised me. Smiling ruefully, wryly, thinking about Green Planet Yarn’s being up for sale and my ever-diminishing chances to experience a yarn before I buy (and there was certainly no time to order any!) “There is not a plethora of orange in my stash.”

She laughed, and that felt good.

“What would match most of your clothes?” In case I could still make her happy with what I had at hand. “Blue, I have lots of blues.”

“Blue is good.”

And so I went home and searched through my stash, and almost immediately, because somehow just a couple of days ago I had inexplicably found it and put it Right There and then forgotten all about it, there was this baby alpaca “Joseph’s Coat” colorway from Lisa Souza‘s dyepots. All of them. Mostly orange. Blue is good. Well there you go.

And so this is what I spent most of the rest of the day on–that and our taking Michelle to the airport. What is fascinating to me is how it went from punctually-random intermixings of colors to growing stripes, definite stripes, when I changed the number of stitches on the needles. Curious. It will look like they all melted into each other at the top.

I have the plain light slightly-grayish-blue cashmere of two cowls ago as a backup, since that one didn’t go out yet and given that I am suddenly on such a tight time frame.

I finished typing the above, looked again, and finally figured it out: it looks like the pinwheel-on-a-stick toy of my youth that you blew on to make the colors twirl around to see if you could get it going fast enough to make them all run together. The center always did the most.



Happy face yarn
Saturday June 17th 2017, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit,To dye for


Showing off Andy’s Bing and Rainier cherries, before the sugar/flour/cinnamon/almond and top crust.

Meantime, this was some 50/50 merino/silk from Colourmart, and I knew from knitting my brother a hat out of it in double strands of navy that it was warm, soft, and well spun, I knew my hands loved the stuff, but all they had left was this faded dusty taupe/sage mix that did not do a thing for me. Cannot beat that closeout price, though– (150 g/$12 ppd) –all it needed was a little work.

Hank, scour the mill oils out in hot soapy water, overdye, rinse, then wind it up once it’s dry. Jacquard Acid Dye in (not a whole lot of) Bright Blue with just a touch of vinegar in the pot that helped the yarn take up the dye during the simmering.

It’s still got just a bit of earthy tone in some lighting from its ancestral color but I like it much better now.



With a warmth like the musk ox itself
Friday June 09th 2017, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,Wildlife

The adult Cooper’s hawk stood on the telephone wires just past the fence line. An hour earlier right there at the awning it had flinched in flight at my standing up, both of us realizing a moment late that the other was there. I sat down again as it did an extra little half-loop in surprise before landing but then it took off over the house and away. (Sorry…)

This time I felt a bit watched, looked up, and held still, quietly loving it for being there where I could see it. What a beautiful bird. I blinked repeatedly so it wouldn’t consider me a predator nor threat.

Becoming confident over several minutes in its ownership of that piece of the sky, comfortable with me now, it reached down and preened an itchy feather from its chest, allowing itself to be briefly vulnerable in a way that conveyed that all was right in its world.

Meantime, I’d like to share this postcard. I left the receipt for the headband from Oomingmak with my daughter, so I’m not sure if the person who signed the letter was the artist who’d knitted it or someone at the co-op headquarters in Anchorage, but either way, I’m quite charmed.

She made the knitting personal, and that, not to mention the qiviut, is knitting at its best.



The main dish
Tuesday May 30th 2017, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Knit,Wildlife

That early stage when a project feels like it’ll never get done. When I know I just have to do one more hour’s worth of work and then it’ll totally take off. (If I could see from here who it’s to be for I would have whizzed through so fast from the get-go.)

Meantime, I wonder this every spring: I know that growing young and lactating squirrels seek out sources of calcium then.

But why are they so fixated on eating this part of this broom that they will absolutely pulse with chewy fervor as if they were digging into hardpack clay to store a nut for the winter–even in the face of my opening the door and walking towards them? They make a break for it at the very last (like this one did), reluctant to let go and clearly not wanting some other squirrel to take their place on the comeback. They have even fought over access to it, and territorial squirrel fights, not chases but actual yin-and-yang-look rolling-hairball fights, are (at least in my observations) rare and leave the vanquished marked to its peers as such by a bitten-off ear tip.

The rubber part of that push broom is looking pretty sad. So is that ear.

Pica? (Wikipedia entry.)



Memorial Day weekend
Monday May 29th 2017, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Richard’s sister’s daughter’s wedding was wonderful: the bride and groom were as happy as one could ever hope for and they are clearly a great match.

Turns out a lifelong friend who was more like family to the groom’s father was a second cousin of my dad’s, and there was this instant sense of belonging.

Photos: my father-in-law surrounded by all his great-grands (with two mothers holding them) except Mathias, who is too young to travel. (Maddy, Kim, Parker and Hudson are to his left.)

My Mom and Dad.

Two of my sisters have in the last year moved within an hour of the folks and we had mini reunions going on on my side as time allowed.

Nash got his stocking hand-delivered and I got to see how much it meant to him and to his mom, my cousin. To say he loved it does not begin to tell it. He just kind of glowed the whole time.

Every teenager needs someone who is not their parent who thinks the world of them–someone who doesn’t have to but just does. I remembered the people I owed much to from my own teens as we were winding through the hills towards their house.

And in between, our daily dose of baby pictures came in and got shared around.

We arrived home in the early afternoon and as I was trying to catch up on five days’ worth of email, there was a new one: after we’d left for the airport, Mom had taken a walk and had fallen, broken a tooth, loosened another and split her lip. Ouch!

Two random men in the right place happened to see her and rushed to her aid, and whoever they are they have my deep gratitude. And to Mom’s neighbor who took her in to be seen.

The note from Dad said that the urgent care folks had said Mom was not to smile nor laugh for a few days.

My mother. Not laughing. Not smiling. Good luck with that.



Into white
Wednesday May 24th 2017, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

I was waiting at the doctor’s while he was back in there somewhere being seen. (He’s fine.)

A woman stopped right there on her way past, looking down at the work in my hands: “That’s beautiful!”

And then she had to know: “What is the, the,” (searching for the right word) “the string?”

Me: “The yarn is” (her: Yarn! Yes!) “a combination of bamboo and pearls,” and I described the process a little. I told her it was soft and it was warm, and she clearly wanted to so I urged her to go ahead and feel how soft it was.

Suddenly she was proudly showing me pictures of her daughter and her friend who (if I got it right) taught the kid how to crochet–and the mom loved seeing her daughter creating like that and wanted in on this and wanted to knit.

I told her there’s a learning curve at the beginning (so that she wouldn’t get discouraged at that point) but you get good fast and it’s worth sticking it out.

She very much agreed with that, swooning again over that bright white cowl. Where had I gotten that yarn? Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. When I told her the yarn was not being made anymore and they had what was left, she had me type the shop’s name and city into her phone so she would have it right and be able to find them for sure. (English wasn’t her first language, but she was very good at it.)

Whether she actually ever learns to or not I don’t know, but I do know she wants to. And she got a whole lot closer to it today–and now she knows someone out there in the world is cheering her on.

(I did not show her grandbaby pictures. I was tempted.)



You know it’s late, I’m rambling
Tuesday May 23rd 2017, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift

One badly posed Christmas stocking because hey, I finally ran all the ends in and at long last it really is done and the hour is too late to fuss with the camera to try to get a better one.

Re the back loop: I ended up picking up stitches and knitting it in stockinette stitch with a second strand woven across the back of every stitch all the way up for strength and reinforcement. It was a good move.

I’m glad I went to the post office first thing today, because the phone rang a little after noon. It was B. She didn’t quite want to ask outright, she didn’t want to put me on the spot, so I volunteered what she wanted to know: her box? I got it to the post office. It was on its way back to the company that had sent her the wrong thing. All taken care of.

She was so relieved–and so was I that I hadn’t put it off till later in the day. It felt good to hear her happy.

And then I went and spent the rest of the day doing all the errands and all the things till I was too wiped to do anything but sit there and knit the back loops on the back loop.

Not a fan of synthetics, and this one was washable wool, but still, maybe I should make a mothproof one next time? Since such things tend to have sugary food in them and then be stored for most of a year sight unseen. What do you think?



Overthinking this
Saturday May 20th 2017, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

The Christmas stocking: a few more repeats and then the toes. The cable patterns are all variations of a simple 2×2 on the fourth row.

Um, when I decided how long to make it I didn’t really consider how much the heel would add to that. My cousin’s going to have to work hard to fill that thing. Raise the mantle, maybe?

It never occurred to me until today that the sewn, flat stockings my mother-in-law and I made my kids have the names facing outwards and the foot going sideways. Of course, because what else, but I was halfway through what you see of the foot here (which is resting sideways for the photo) when I realized that either half the name wasn’t going to show when you hang the thing, or if I center the hanging loop directly behind the name, the foot part is going to be sticking straight out into the room. Is that odd? Or just to my eyes used to one thing? Where would you put that loop?

Next is to pick up the stitches at the top and knit and then tack down a second layer of that ribbing above the name for strength, now that I can see that it needs it, along with making that future loop, wherever it will go.



Raising peace
Wednesday May 17th 2017, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Wildlife

After yesterday’s post, it feels good to be able to say, oh wow, look at that.

I’m suddenly realizing we haven’t touched the ladder since the Fuji apple was pruned in the winter.

I’d always been told mourning doves make the worst nests: as lazy as, drop two twigs and call it done, but this one went to a lot of effort to make the best I’ve ever seen one with. Maybe since it wasn’t in a tree or a bush it needed a bit of camouflage, I don’t know, or maybe it was the abundance of enticing material by the lacewood elm (which reaches to just to the right of this picture). After all, we knitters know that the way to get someone to stick with the process of learning how to do what we do is to share the best yarns for their hands to want to work with.

Not that I went close enough to try to get a good look at its details. She watches me when I go past and knows that I’ve noticed her now but she does not move. Nor do I stay in the way.



Get fuzzy
Saturday May 13th 2017, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

The answer to DebbieR’s question starts with, I had no idea that that cute little cabin that’s pictured in everything I ever saw having to do with the Oomingmak cooperative was actually smack dab in downtown Anchorage! We happened to drive past it after hours and I exclaimed and grabbed the phone and snapped its picture through the windshield (see yesterday’s post) from the passenger side.

Sam asked the next morning if I wanted to visit the place?

Heck yeah!

And so she and I went while Richard stayed home with the baby. It was just a quick little jaunt.

There was the back room in view, completely familiar to me from Donna Druchunas’s book and every article I’ve ever read about the place. There were hand knits on display and hat kits for sale and if I’d been really rich that baby-size handspun qiviut blanket that was just under $700 would have been Mathias’s. If only. Inexplicably I saw none of the traditional smoke rings they’re so famous for–cowls, as someone in the Lower 48 would call them, infinity scarves, in the finest, softest, warmest handspun lace.

I made great friends with my first surgeon eight years ago when she was trying to describe this beautiful little hand knit she’d bought from an Eskimo group while visiting Alaska and I’d asked, Was it qiviut? A smoke ring? She was astonished: “How did you know?!”

I’m a knitter! And I spin.

And I live in California. I knew, looking at their wares, that I in no way need the extreme warmth of the undercoat of the gentle musk ox. But my daughter, now! I told her I had long wanted to support the women who do that work, but online from afar and in the wrong climate I’d just never made that order.

But here we were. (And the prices were about what it would cost me to knit them myself, I said afterwards as we were going back to the car.)

She picked out a thick, wide intarsia headband knitted in two natural shades–two designs, actually, taking a minute to decide: “This one looks like poinsettias to me,” and almost got it but the other won out in the end. (The one I’d picked out as my favorite, and if I should have kept my mouth shut it’s too late now.)

I’m rather sorry I didn’t get its picture. Even better yet, on her.

They said if it ever needed repair to just bring the sales slip with it and they would do it.

I told her it was an early Happy Mother’s Day from me. I didn’t quite say out loud, you swaddle your baby in warmth and I’ll swaddle mine.

But I did want at least some little memento for me and they had these tiny bags of combed raw qiviut: $4 each and I got two.

Sam told me afterwards that one of her co-workers had a hat from Oomingmak but he cannot wear it indoors. It’s too hot.

I figure, in Alaska, that’s a good problem to have.



Now c’mon
Sunday April 30th 2017, 8:33 pm
Filed under: Knit

Was that really so hard?



That drawing I won, with the tickets and the parking and the food
Tuesday March 28th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

Richard took a break during a break and she came down beside me at row 11 a moment.

We both did complete double takes: “Oh my goodness!” in unison. She told me she thought she’d go strike up a conversation with the woman several rows below with the white hair who was knitting during the down times, having no idea it was me.

We couldn’t hear much more than that, either one of us, and gave up but we did get a good hug in later on the way out. An old Purlescence friend. Good times.

So I have now see my first game of ice quidditch. The Sharks were ahead, then down, then won in a stunning overtime that–wait–you mean there aren’t four quarters? It really is over? Oh okay.



The absurd with the Sublime
Friday March 24th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

There was a little left of the second skein of Sublime pearl/bamboo tonight but not enough to be absolutely sure I could do another repeat–besides, it’s at seven and the eye is satisfied with groupings in odd numbers and oddly dissatisfied at even-number ones and I knew that trying for nine, there was just no way; I cast off.

It fills up. It drains. It won’t agitate and it won’t spin, it just growls. You know you’re a knitter when your first reaction to finding out the washing machine just broke is, but then how on earth am I supposed to spin this out after I rinse it so it can be dry by the morning?! How am I supposed to block this?!

On the other hand, I have a bright blue cowl done in cashmere, silk, and baby alpaca yarn I’d plied on the wheel and I know she loves that color, too. The practical side says I think we’re good.

But the part of me that made that avocado one just for her wants to tuck it into my purse and offer to switch her if she’d rather. I’d better go get those ends run in to give myself the option, if not her. (Edited to add, oops, scratch that, it’s not that one it’s the 66/34 cashmere/cotton one. Still good.)



Gorsuch-and-such
Tuesday March 21st 2017, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knit,Politics

As I clipped off the ties there was this vague sense that something was wrong, but it made no sense and I ignored it–at the time.

Oooh, man. All those hundreds of yards of wool and that compliant-looking hank was anything but: it was tangled, and tangled bad.

If you are winding yarn into a hank (race-track shaped, for the non knitters, for dyeing now and winding into a ball later) and get interrupted and come back to it and finish with the winding going the other way, you create loops against the loops instead of one big loop–and the yarn must be slowly carefully unwoven back through all those figure-eights. The ball, as it gets bigger and bigger, still has to fit through all those catch points every time around.

I started at about 10:30 this morning. I got interrupted by a few things, including a friend dropping by for an hour and a half, but still: it was 3:30 when I finally got that last yard onto that ball.

Which I emphatically did not knit. I was done with it for the day.

So while I fussed with all that, I had the second-day Neil Gorsuch hearings going to keep me occupied. (The Supreme Court nominee.)

He seems like a nice guy. We could definitely do worse, given who chose him.

And yet. Too often he’s sided with money over people. That Hobby Lobby judgment that he defended because of the owners’ “sincerely held beliefs”? A Senator said, Well, what if an owner is a Jehovah’s Witness and refuses to pay for employees’ medical insurance to cover blood donations? Where does this end? And what about the sincerely held beliefs of the 1300 employees, don’t they matter?

There were questions about a case involving a trucker, which Gorsuch dismissed as squabbling over a hole vs an opening in the floor of the truck. I wondered what that was all about, since he clearly seemed to be avoiding it, so I went looking.

What he refused to acknowledge was that by his dissent in that case, he was saying a man’s life was less important than corporate rules.

The brakes had failed on the guy’s trailer and he had called for help, was told it was coming, and fell asleep in his unheated truck. He woke up in the early stages of hypothermia and knew he would die if he stayed there. Rather than drive with a dangerous trailer he unhooked it, drove the truck to safety and warmth, and when that roadside help finally came, drove back to the trailer and dealt with it.

He was fired, and Gorsuch upheld that firing. The rules were he was to have stayed put, and he didn’t.

And this is the man who wants to make potentially life-and-death decisions for us all.

I can only pray we get the smiley Mr. Nice Guy he portrayed himself as. We have enough of a tangled mess at the top.



Washington Circle
Monday March 13th 2017, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Knit

I sent off a note to Karida at Neighborhood Fiber Company: is my Washington Circle yarn named after the area near George Washington University in DC? Or for somewhere in Baltimore?

I could just hear her smile as she wrote back:

Alison,

Washington Circle is one of our original colors and is definitely referring to Washington Circle in D.C. I went to GWU, and that circle was part of my daily pedestrian life as a student. Cheers!

So cool. My husband and I were both born at the old (now replaced) hospital at George Washington University, and I love that the yarn I’m knitting for our grandson has such a connection to place–both ours, and Karida herself: and now she’s working from a place close to where our daughter/his mother lived in grad school.