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.



Losing winter fast
Friday March 10th 2017, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

Another warm day, and now there are 17 green figs. Getting that tree out of that big Costco pot and moved into the ground (twice–the first spot was just too close to the fence) clearly didn’t hurt it any.

You can almost watch the new mango leaves growing in. Compare this to two weeks ago, when they were barely starting. (Around the trunk: cinnamon, because the ants have taken a sudden interest.)

The Mosaic Moon Lachlan cowl will be a lot brighter once it’s dry.

Back to Nash’s stocking.



72F
Thursday March 09th 2017, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

In the side yard, nothing but dormancy yesterday.

Today, a dozen tiny green figs, and those protective brown swirls split (on the other side on this one) to show leaves inside that were already green by the end of the day.

The August Pride peach, still blooming after three weeks.

All three of the tomato varieties I planted sprouted today, two to learn about and one familiar old wonderful Sungold. And the…(where did I put it. I was going to show you) Habanero peppers with no heat, there you go. Mr. Sulu, Wimp Factor Seven, full speed ahead! (Assuming they come up, too.)

Oh, and I did some of that anticipated me-knitting: a cowl in Lachlan from Mosaic Moon, not quite that colorway but close and in that soft silky yarn. Gorgeous. I’ll show it off when it’s done.



Fancy meeting you here
Monday March 06th 2017, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Life

It’s always the prep that is so fun. (Me, I never ever ever have to do it again. There have to be some perks.)

They called us yesterday and asked could we come in at 12:30 instead?

Two hours earlier and get it over with faster? Sure!

We got there 12:15ish and after checking to make sure I would stay to drive him home, they were quizzical as to why we there there at that hour. You’re not supposed to be here till 2:30, nobody told us it was changed…

But they never gave us a definitive yes or no after saying they would go check and the result was that we simply stayed and waited it out.

He got in later than the original time, as it turned out, and in the end I was the last person by quite some time in the formerly crowded waiting room still waiting for a patient. Even the receptionist had left. After three and a half hours of knitting cables my hands had to bail and I pulled out some reading.

But meantime, the doctor who was to do the scope did quite the double take when she saw me first: she was my new *GI doctor (our longtime one had retired.) “How are you?!” She introduced herself to Richard, and then as a knitter herself just had to ask quickly about that project in my hands. She was so excited for Nash.

Richard recovered quickly from the anesthesia–he always does–and they had me wait by the exit. And as I sat there, a familiar face went by while it took me almost a heartbeat too many to think of her name. But it came to me and I called it out just as she stepped out of sight behind the door she’d opened, hoping I got it right and thinking that if I didn’t she would just think I’m talking to someone else coming up behind or something.

She stepped right backwards with, Yes?

And then she recognized me. She was another one of the doctors who had taken care of me in the hospital when I was so ill.

How long has it been?!

Me, holding my arms out: You were pregnant.

Her: ’09, then! Wow, you look great! You were in the hospital!

Me: Was the baby a boy or a girl?!

Her: A girl, and she’s eight now, and has a little sister. And I love your scarf! I wear it every year at the (Renaissance? if I heard right) Faire. And I had it on just the other day, and thank you! I love it!

And here I was thinking there was no way she could remember someone who wasn’t even her patient except during rounds. I’m so glad the timing of the day led to my being right there just as she was leaving and had a moment to reconnect.

 

*Note to Warren: At Stitches, when I fondled your project and asked if it was Woolstock and you exclaimed, “You’re good!” Woolstock is what I knitted up when I went to see my new GI after my old one retired, and the first thing she did was ooh and aah over the feel of it, and then over how it was the perfect color for her. I have no idea what I used for the other doctor (wait–I think baby alpaca) but I know she likes hers, too!



So hurry up already by taking it easy
Wednesday March 01st 2017, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knit,Lupus

Randomness:

Woke up in the night aching and wondering how on earth the bed got so painfully hard–oh. It’s a fever, and oh fun, the brainstem doesn’t want me to breathe on my own (not an entire shutdown, but too close), so, an autonomic nervous system flare to go with. Same old same old, diagnosed fifteen years ago with a blood pressure reading of 63/21 during a tilt table test. Y’know, that’s the lupus symptom I like the least.

But then I did okay today and am hoping that that’s the worst of it.

Meantime, a closeup of the flowers on one side of the second peach tree, with the third, fourth, and fifth peaches soon to burst out in tandem while the honeybees next door were zooming all day around their hive near the fence like electrons around a nucleus, radiant in the sunlight.

Maybe I can get the latest purple cowl off the needles tonight–there are only a few rows’ worth of yarn left in that skein.

We have tickets for our friend Russ’s concert Saturday  that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and I really need to be fine by then.



C’mon, get found!
Saturday February 25th 2017, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Yesterday I was talking to a young vendor at Stitches about knitting lace and she said it wasn’t something she’d managed to get good at or do much of yet, but she wanted to (said wistfully).

I remembered feeling like that years ago before I learned how, myself. Well, hey, I happened to know a book that gave good how-to lace instructions and patterns–but I didn’t have a copy with me anymore at the end of the day. Leap into the aisle and wave your arms as I go by, I said, flag me down tomorrow and I’ll bring you one.

What I knew and did not explain well was the facial-memory brain problem and that I really meant how I’d said that. Oh, I’ll find her, I told myself.

Right.

I should have rehearsed over and over, The guy with the red beard. The guy with the red beard. The guy with the red beard. Because how many of those could there be? But I didn’t.

I spent hours today taking in every aisle across the entire convention floor, going past the 150 or so vendors, trying to find her and her husband again and coming up empty and wondering how on earth this could be. I did find lots of old friends I hadn’t seen the day before (and some I had) and vendors who had become such themselves, and that was all good. But I just couldn’t fathom leaving at the end of the day without finding that couple and it was actually getting to be a possibility.

I thought one woman might be her but she not only didn’t recognize me, I simply did not exist for her. That happens all the time when you’re down there in a scooter, although less so at Stitches than anywhere else.

Sympathetic friends asked me the name of the booth. I had no idea, but I knew it was on the left hand side near the end of a section and that they, um, sold yarn. (Hey, not everybody there did!)

Finally I realized that I simply was not going to succeed at this on my own. At all. Clearly. I couldn’t fathom leaving someone excited to learn something new at last and then abandoning them–so I did the sensible thing I should have started off with and offered up an inner prayer for help.

It wasn’t immediate, but pretty close: an old friend saw me and we exclaimed over each other and chatted awhile before I headed down this one aisle I was already on.

There at the end. Right there where I’d gone past I’m sure twice before. They were both in the booth and it was no longer crowded so I could actually see them both–and their delight in that moment at seeing me again. (Me: It IS you!) And so the Twisted Owl couple at long last got their book and she loved it and he loved that she was so happy.

I can’t wait to see them at next year’s show. And now I have the website and a photo to go by.



Stitches West
Friday February 24th 2017, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I love seeing old friends at Stitches every year. Today’s started off with standing in line to get in, since I got dropped off slightly early, and finding a mother and daughter coming in behind me who–JO?? Is that you?!

My oldest’s close friend from high school and her mom, who recognized me a split second before I did her. The knitting thing. It spreads.

By afternoon, someone there was having a bad day for whatever reason and as she came walking by lost in a world of her own I looked up at her and said, simply, You look like you need a hug. It was an offer.

She was surprised, gratified, and we threw our arms around each other like old friends and then continued on our ways down the aisle in opposite directions, with her definitely lighter on her feet for it. It felt great.

Turquoise was not intentionally a theme today but sometimes it just is anyway. I told Susan at Abstract Fiber why I needed a new skein of Burnside Bridges (on the far left). I wasn’t going to go home without getting me some of that first and foremost.

I had never bought a kit in my life. I guess I just did, though–Imagiknit had two baby sweaters up and I looked at them and said, emphatically, I want to make that one.

This one comes with the pattern free with the yarn, she offered.

I believe in paying designers, I told her. I want the other one, thanks.

Yes! There was a big grin on her face as she rang that one up.

 



Hesperian-ward
Thursday February 23rd 2017, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

The cowl was Stitches-specific; back to the afghan, which still needed those last twenty-four rows of ribbing and for me to stop basking in the glorious feeling of being done with all the color work and to tell myself, it’s Not. Done.

I got the first thirteen rows in and had to give my hands a break. Well, I thought, if I don’t finish, it would be fun to work on it at Stitches–but then I’d have to carry it around all day.

Meantime, our son flew into town on business just for today and not only did he have time to get together with us for dinner after all, he messaged that he’d gotten done early. And so he took the train down and I took the car up and got him and then we went and picked up my husband and all of us went out for a good meal. There is no better excuse than family in town.

I started checking the hour as we finished our dinners. Maybe we should think about getting going… I felt antsy about the time even though we seemed to have plenty.

We took a short walk around downtown in the cold (it’s 33F now) to work off some of those calories and for them to look for a shop my husband kept expecting to see right in the next block.

What time was your flight home?

We piled into the car and turned on Waze. Turned out the freeway to the airport was at or close to a dead stop nearly the whole way–there’d been an accident.

And so it directed us along the scenic route that I had always suspected had to exist but had never had reason to look for before. That portion that should have been fifteen or twenty minutes in normal life took us an hour and a half to get around–but that was a lot better than for the people still stuck in all that and it made it so he did catch his flight home. It was a close call but he made it.

Someone out there had a much rougher time of it. I hope they’re okay.

To everybody coming to Stitches, may your travel be safe. Oh and just to Camelot it for you we canceled the storm we were supposed to have this weekend. Instead of a definite inch they’re now forecasting a chance of, if there’s anything, .18″ from Saturday through Monday. It will, however, be brisk.