Playing musical chicken: BACH, a Bach a Bach a Bach a Bach
Saturday August 19th 2017, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

I woke up with just enough of a cold to have the oomph to quietly sit and knit most of the day. Richard (thank you!) did the grocery shopping; I turned on the music to get my fingers moving. (Richard pitched in on that too at one point, and we compared Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock vs CSNY’s.)

I never play yarn chicken.

Except I did. I was making this navy cowl from leftover dk-weight yarn and there was another small ball of it and I got to where I really kind of wanted to be done with this but I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied if I didn’t get to that seventh repeat–so I was kind of resigned to having to splice balls as it is. Hopefully not three stitches before the end.

It ain’t over till the fat chicken sings.

So I kept going. Got to the end of that seventh repeat that I’d thought the thing couldn’t possibly have in it, eyeballed the squiggles where the bottom of the ball had exploded, and proceeded with the cast off, tighter than usual.

Four and a third inches. That end with the bit of white still tied to it from when I wound the hank? Yeah. But wow. One for the ages. I will have to work the sewing needle through the stitches I want to pull the end through before I even try to thread it, but it will exactly do.

After dinner I picked up another cowl I’d started a few days ago in the exact shade of traffic-cone vivid-orange-red that most makes my balance go nuts. (Head injuries are so weird.) I’d gotten that yarn at an earlier Colourmart clearance, had overdyed most of it as planned, but had left some of it as is because I knew some people love it and I knew it was not something I would ever, ever pick up at a yarn store. Might as well let a bit of it be.

And that is the color skirt a friend was wearing to church last week. Alright, then, she’s next. (I will try *not* to tell her not to wear it near me–and I will also give her others to choose from when I surprise her, just to make sure, y’know, that she likes what she gets. Yeah that’s it.)

I’d found the needle size that that red almost-laceweight needed pretty small for my hands, and after the first diamond yesterday I put it aside and made the navy one today instead. Bigger needles, more comfortable, and if it worked up fast well that was to make up for the guilt from lack of follow-through on the other.

I held it in my hands. I looked at the bigger needle the blue had been on and felt tempted. Well, maybe I could work on this just a little bit after all right now first, y’know, space it out to a little a day, go easy on the hands while still getting stuff done.

Wait. How did that happen.

 



Getting a little crow-ded
Friday August 18th 2017, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Knit,To dye for,Wildlife

The birdnetting somehow gets moved a bit day after day–no squirrel could have done that from there (I don’t think) –and the figs have still been disappearing. And I was getting screamed at by a crow whenever I went near that tree. Although, funny how when I gave “the look” in its general direction, wherever it was, it stopped.

Research has shown that they are highly attuned to human faces.

It could see me. I couldn’t see it. But even I can hear a crow.

Hey, nice of it to remind me. (Yup, I did go back and buy a fake dead one last year but I never used it.)

After repeats of this all week long, I finally remembered at night and not in the morning when it was too late that I needed to put that bird out there.

I carried it in the shopping bag it’s been in to hide it from any glimpse through the windows, hoping it would work for the Indian Free peach and fig both even though they’re not that close. I slid it out with me between it and the tree across the fence that is where I think I’d been yelled at from, trying to block any night-vision view (it wasn’t as dark as I would have liked) and then I sprinted the heck around the corner and out of there.

So yes, I put it there myself fer cryin’ out loud, and yet it still startled me this evening when I went to water the tomatoes. Whoa! Well, good, then, so I pretended to be startled again and shied away from it every time I looked in its direction. I can play the game.

Meantime. I bought a large cone of merino/silk 50/50, steeply discounted to get rid of the last of it, in a color blend I would call bleached-out camouflage. I’d worked with that yarn before in navy and knew how nice it was. (Hey, Morgan, that’s your doubled hat.) This was a heavier and darker version of the one I played with recently and there’s a whole lot more of it.

It came yesterday and today I wound off just enough yards to make a nice cowl, tied the hank and threw it in the dyepot to see what I could talk this stuff into being.

I don’t know if I can get the other 900 grams all into one dyepot and have it come out evenly. Quite unlikely. No afghan out of this, then, no matter how practical home decor-wise, I would go nuts having to look at the blah in my hands for a month.

Such a shame. I’ll just have to splash and play and make lots of happy colors out of it. We’re talking a dozen merino/silk hats or cowls, easily.

Maybe Sapphire, next.



I still have the beaded socks she made me eleven years ago
Thursday August 17th 2017, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life


Finished that one (colors muted by the nighttime photo and the fact that it’s wet) and there will be lots of nice folds on it around the neck. Started another cowl tonight.

But in between I played with the dye pot.

Colorwise, the hanks to the left in both the following pictures are the ones most true to life.

I have a friend (don’t miss that post) whom life has put into a tight spot and it was time to do some stash diving in return for all the good turns she’s done me. She wanted to knit her young daughter a red sweater and it seemed to me I ought to be able to do something about that.

I found two big hand-dyed hanks I’d bought maybe eight years ago at Stitches: 9.17 oz/1300 yards each in super wash merino–not a thick yarn by any means. I’d had plans for them but they’d just never leaped onto the needles, and the plan for the dusty sandy peach one (brightened by the camera here, in real life, not so much) was clearly not going to happen. (It made sense at the time, honest.)

I always thought that weight-wise, if I weren’t making a shawl, they’d be great knitted together–if only the colors were more compatible.

Well now they are. I offered to overdye the multi, too, to obliterate the orange bits, but it was loved just as it is.

The ties around the peach-ish one had been drawn tight enough to mostly resist the original dye. I moved those ties and knew anything I did would come out lighter in those spots, and they were. I like it, though.

That dark red will lighten up a bit once it’s dry.

Somehow, what leaped onto my needles tonight was a small amount of red from another part of my stash. Funny how that happened.



Chickened out on the yarn chicken
Friday August 04th 2017, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Knit

Got straight to work this morning with the intention of adding one last repeat.

But first, just to double-check, I weighed that ball again, and darn if it didn’t say 26 grams.

Okay, we’re done, that’s that.

It is now blocking on a twin bed, where it goes past the sides but comes shy of reaching end to end. I think the next one I make–I have a second monster cone waiting because the yarn is so very soft–I will make longer, but this one is very much okay.

(Note to self: needles US 8, aran weight cashmere/cotton.)

 



Just a few more hours
Tuesday August 01st 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift

This one is to make the parents happy, and whether they use it for the baby is up to them but I decided I wanted it long enough to curl over the mom’s feet during 3 am feedings, if nothing else, and that as long as that giant ball kept going so would I.

Three repeats done today to bring it to twenty-two before I broke out the icepacks. Two more to go and then that’s all there is.

I like having less left to do tomorrow than what I did today.

(I think. Wait, did I weigh that ball one repeat ago or two?)



Knitworthy
Sunday July 30th 2017, 10:21 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

Oh, right, the purple cowl. And I went to grab it before church.

Something in me said and grab that pink pearl-yarn one, too.

?? Okay, so, I did, a little surprised. I’d forgotten even making it and here I was looking for it. I grabbed a back-up purple, too, but I didn’t think that one was quite it.

As church was letting out, I found a private moment and gave the friend who’d wanted purple her choice of the three; she picked the one she didn’t know I’d made specifically for her this past week and put it on instantly no matter the thickness in summertime and wore it proudly. Totally made my day.

Then I went looking for another friend. She was wearing a white dress and I was mentally going through my stash of white yarns when I finally caught up to her collecting her children.

“Are you allergic to any fibers?”

A surprised, “Am I what?”

“Are you allergic to anything? What’s your favorite color?” When she still looked like wait, this is completely out of left field, what?! I added, “I’m a knitter.” (Yeah, yeah, she knew that.)

She was startled and laughed and couldn’t believe I was asking her and shook her head no on the allergies thing and pronounced, “Pink!” And then went, “Well…” and tried to describe the kind of pink she really likes.

Reaching into my purse, pulling out just enough for her to see: “Like this shade?”

“YES!” And then she was instantly embarrassed because it wasn’t like she was trying to ask for the thing, while I was marveling at how it had just happened to be there. I told her, I didn’t know who I made it for but I knew I made it for someone and then it just sat there waiting for its moment and then this morning it demanded to come here with me. Well there you go.

It was beyond perfect as far as she was concerned, and I wondered why I hadn’t figured out sooner that she was the person for it.

But after a few hours’ reflection, I think it’s this. She had taught the lesson today and had told some stories on herself that she might have wondered if they would make anyone think less of her. I would be very surprised if anybody did–allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is the greatest act of faith in one’s listener one could ever offer them, and she’s a peach.

Today was the day that young mom needed that vote of confidence. And it was waiting for her before she said a word.



Fluffball
Friday July 14th 2017, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Knit

I thought I would show you why I bother to hank and scour coned yarns rather than knitting straight from the cone and washing the dried-hair-mousse-y mill oils out later.

Usually I buy 150 gram cones, and that’s what the start of the baby blanket used up. This one, though, was 1050 grams of a cotton and cashmere blend and without a swift (or maybe even with), there was no way I was going to be able to do all that in one go. My niddy-noddy cried uncle at 360 grams.

The resulting hank, scoured, blow-dried and wound back up, is on the left–while there are still 690 grams on the cone on the right. Nearly twice.

The ball is solid, other than that little belly button from my thumb while I was winding it. The cone is a goodly amount of cardboard-and-air. That picture is taken straight on, and if there’s any distortion it’s that it quite understates how much bigger the ball is in every dimension–maybe I should take a side view shot, too.

Between the soapy water that was hotter than I could touch (I used the bottom of the Seventh Generation bottle to push it down in the sink there, and after rinsing spun it out in the washing machine) and the blow-drying afterwards because there was so. much. yarn, I like to think that any shrinkage that was going to happen has happened. There will be no surprises when I’m done knitting this, nor, hopefully, to the recipients when they wash their blanket.

There’s also this one other big reason for doing that extra work: the yarn on the cone is, eh. But washed! It’s so baby soft. I get to experience what they will with it.

(Second picture, for scale: placed on a well-loved 8″ x 9.5″ Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.)



Glasses
Thursday July 06th 2017, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life,Spinning,Wildlife

Dropped my glasses off the top of my head when I stood up to answer the phone and then I stepped on them.

It was bad. There was just no putting those back on. All I could do was wait for Richard to get home from work to drive me over to For Eyes.

A dozen feet away was close enough not to be too fuzzy when a Cooper’s hawk skidded to a stop on the concrete just on the other side of the glass door. It considered me a split second as a finch on its back flailed away wildly trying to right itself (its hard thwack on that window had snatched my attention) and he grabbed it and was off.

The younger employee went, “Wow, you really stepped on them,” and given their age (I’d reused the same lightweight metal frames through several prescription changes–I bought an extra pair eight years ago so I could) she was afraid she would break them; the more experienced middle-aged guy, the one I took a tumble in front of last week, was sure he could do it and she was sure he could if anybody could and handed them over.

At this point I’ve been in there enough times that they were not surprised to see me pull out the knitting project I started today (after I did indeed add a repeat to yesterday’s.)

He was glad to see me back and looking none the worse for that fall and made a point of getting those exactly right. He totally rescued me, and was very pleased to be able to make such a difference. I can see again. I can do things again. I have my life back.

They both adored the picture of Mathias in shades and even asked to see more pictures of the baby, and I thought, I really like you guys…!

(Yarn: two strands of a dusty purple-plum cashmere laceweight, a gift from Sherry in Idaho, and two strands of a brick red merino with a touch of sparkle to it, plied together on my spinning wheel.)



And the new leaves’ red glare, the fronds bursting in air
Tuesday July 04th 2017, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

The last rays at sundown were coming through the window right on that drying merino/silk cowl (Scrumptious 4-ply yarn by Fyberspates), showing the radiant deep purple hiding in that dark navy. I ran for the camera, but in the steps it took me to go down the hall and back the light was gone.

You can almost see it.

The mango tree has sprouted like crazy just since two weeks ago.That top branch grew from ending at that last big green leaf to seven new branches popping out–and that’s just the one cluster. From this morning to this evening, it went from looking like a solid poof from inside the house to discernibly separate branches: they are stretching up and out at two to three inches a day.

All the flower stalks that had the tiniest suggestion of buds when we left town to help when Mathias was born–it got too cold for them while nobody was home to cover the tree at night and they gradually turned black, so I think there will be no crop this year. The rest of the tree is doing fine. And who knows, it might surprise me yet.

(Cute hat and matching socks–hey, they match the mango!– from longtime online knitting friend Susan Schutz.)

 



From silk to merino/silk
Friday June 30th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

If I could get my phone to let me take another picture, I’d show you the half-done one I started this morning in navy 4-ply Scrumptious by Fyber Spates. Take this pattern, move the decreases to the centers of the diamonds, dark blue, there you go.

Yesterday’s silk came out such that when I tried this cowl on and looked at how it shimmered under the skylight, I instantly wanted to make more like that for more people and I do have more colors of that dk silk in my stash.

The Scrumptious was not one of them. But somehow this morning it wheedled its way onto my needles anyway and told me it wouldn’t take more than a day or two, promise! So I’m trying to hold it to that.

It made it up to me as I went along with it by reminding me how (name redacted)….wears navy a lot… And could use a hug right now.

And a superwash merino blend is likely to be a lot less stressful on a new mom than pure silk might be.



Kimber
Tuesday June 27th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The picture’s the bright-light version of the colors, which are generally more subdued.

There was a baby shower tonight for someone who was a one-year-old with our then-one-year-old daughter when we moved here, and the best anniversary present my husband gave me was to urge me to go ahead to the party and enjoy.

I got there right at starting time–and there was Vivian and a chance to talk to her in an aside without its being in front of lots of other people and at a time when she was not having to deal with movers nor small children.

The blue I finished a week ago. The brick silk was an abandoned project that I hadn’t been able to make myself frog but at that gauge it just hadn’t been working as a rectangular scarf: the weight of it was going to pull and sag the stitches long over time the way loosely-spun loosely-knit silk can do and it had sat there hogging that pair of needles for a year.

Knowing she liked orange had gotten me to pick it up this morning, consider it sideways–hey! It does fit over the head when I pinch the edges together! (Barely.) I went to town with it, widening the pattern so it would go around the neck in layers just so. I am totally glad I saved that! (I did have to put a seam up the back.) UFOs can be great to have in a pinch, and she really liked it. She loved them all.

She laughed when I quoted her, “All the colors. Mostly orange. Blue is good.”

And then I told her this: I had bought that variegated Joseph’s Coat yarn from my old friend Lisa Souza maybe ten years ago and it had drifted to the far regions of my stash.

But somehow, and it was either Friday or Saturday, I had gone through bags and bags and found it and for no reason whatsoever I had pulled it out and put it front and center in the family room, so that when I got home from church Sunday after that conversation with her there it had been. Right. There. I hadn’t even known yet that she was moving away, much less what colors she liked. I had knitted it the rest of that day and all the next.

I found it intriguing how the yarn had split itself into three sections: the yarn was the same yard after yard but how it came out was not. “Kind of like raising children,” I said, and she laughed again.

She loved them all, but that one. That one spoke to her.

Her outfit looked like she had picked it out to match that cowl and she proudly wore her Lisa Souza the rest of the evening.

And then.

It was a large turnout: older women who’d known Kimber all her growing up (or almost, in my case), young women she’d grown up with, quite the reunion, and that end table in front of her was stacked pretty high. Which is good, given how many clothes babies go through every day.

Her sister had crocheted her a soft baby blanket and everybody oohed and aahed in appreciation.

More baby clothes… Towels, binkies, lots of pink in happy anticipation of her finally getting a girl on the third try…

Almost the last one. Kimber went to pull the envelope off so she could read it and tugged hard enough that some of the wrapping paper came off along with it.

She gasped and looked at me: that had to be from me! Right?!! She knew how big that package was, too. !!! She opened the card, took a deep breath to see the rest of what was inside while filling her mom in next to her (it was really loud in that house)…

and pulled out the baby blanket.

The machine washable and dry-able baby blanket in colors she loved so much. Colors that I had struggled to push myself through. Colors that were perfect for her.

One of the older women pulled me aside afterwards. She used to be a Knitter with a capital K but it’s been awhile.

That yellow, she said. In that pattern. It’s reminding me of–I don’t remember, but it’s reminding me of…(she shook her head) something!

It was absolutely compelling to her, and driving her crazy that she couldn’t remember what it was that had been.

It’ll come to you, I promised her. It’ll come.

I just bet you it’s that she knit somebody something once….



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.)