One more way to stay in touch
Monday February 19th 2018, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Knit,Wildlife

There! I said in triumph, done with it for the night. I octopused it.

You what? He wasn’t sure he’d heard that one right.

You know how octopuses can squeeze into anything? I got 61″ of afghan and that ball into that ziploc. (Warning: great National Geographic video in that link, annoying announcer–you might want to turn the sound off.)

Meantime…

I was talking to a friend yesterday who has just bought a house a half hour north of us and is getting ready to move into it. This is a rare and marvelous achievement around here these days. I was wondering out loud if she’d like a fruit tree as a housewarming present.

Because I know how many times I’ve wished I’d planted mine when we moved here, rather than most of them at 25 years later when my kids were newly grown and I needed to still see something grow up year by year under my care. Plus I wanted the fruit. Plus I think they’re pretty trees.

She instantly knew exactly what she wanted and she was ecstatic–was I serious?

Absolutely! As I thought, my late father-in-law is the one who encouraged me to start gardening, and that would be the best use I can think of for some of the birthday check he gave me in December just before he died.

I checked the Dave Wilson site and they said the Blenheim (Royal) was the #1 apricot in California and the top-rated one in their taste tests. But also, as I said to her yesterday, one good thing about apricots is that they’re a little tart and squirrels don’t like tart.

It turns out she knew her apricot varieties and Blenheim was her favorite. Well then.

Yamagami’s, my favorite nursery, had the Royal variant in stock. Perfect.

She helped me get that big thing out of my small car this afternoon, exclaiming, I can’t believe you did this! I can’t believe you already did!

Take pictures for me when you get it in?

She couldn’t wait to.

And I came away thinking, how often do we get to spend money on something that will last the rest of the recipient’s whole life? That tree will keep giving and giving and giving, and you learn with the first one and who knows where it’ll take her from there.

I could hear one of my favorite doctors in my head, an avid gardener, when I asked him about the squirrels, answering happily, I have MILLIONS of apricots! They hadn’t touched them.

I said a little prayer for Jennifer’s tree to grow and thrive along with her three little kids. They need to wait a little while before they climb it, though.

A bowl of them (cupping my hands for size) in five years? An excuse for a visit.

She’s looking forward to it.



Cone-iverous yarn
Monday February 12th 2018, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Knit

It had felted to itself a bit in the scouring and was a pain to separate, yard after yard. I knew that going in–I’ve done this before (but I wanted to preshrink this as much as possible in the expectation that it would go through the laundry later.) It was 332 grams and the length to match. I pretty much knew that, too.

But today I told myself my Sabbath day of rest was over and it was time to tackle it anyway, and with visions of finding the perfect swift and big-ball winder at Stitches next week so as to avoid this next time, I gradually created what my husband calls a yarn planet to continue the afghan from. Knowing I might have to do this one last time for it. Maybe not.

Subtract 36 g for the cardboard, and that cone still has 572 grams left vs. the 332 scoured and plumped up next to it.

The afghan. It’s coming. Slowly, but it’s coming.



Cashmere and cotton
Friday February 09th 2018, 12:13 am
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I had this afghan I needed to make that I’ve mentioned from time to time for several months now.

The first try ended up being cast off and declared a scarf–spending more time on its yarn was not making me like it better. Done.

The second try got started but was put aside while I tried to decide if I wanted the lace to be a great big border around a drawing in knits and purls of the recipient’s house. Which I have never been to. And which I didn’t know how to ask for a picture of without having to explain why I wanted it–when simply continuing the lace would make a perfectly fine blanket. I dithered. Which means I stopped.

Aside from an hour here and there, which gradually, naturally answered the pattern question, it got put aside again for all the Christmas knitting: ten hats, who knows how many cowls, things that all had a definite time limit–while the afghan reproached me. I’m not good at having multiple projects on the needles but it was just too much to try to get that big one done and out of the way first.

I took it with me to a knitting group get-together Tuesday morning to make myself really dive back into it at long last, but as it dangled from my circs, it was inwardly embarrassing that another knitter couldn’t instantly peg it as an afghan and it made me determined to get it at least to where it was obvious what it was, fast. It was long overdue.

Today, after three straight days of putting my all into it, it is nearly half done and after all this time that feels just unbelievable, and very encouraging.

Part of what happened was I realized I did have a deadline after all: Stitches West. It’s only two weeks away and you know there are going to be new toys that I’m instantly going to want to play with. Anticipation is way more fun–and I’ve finally found that place where there’s great anticipation in this afghan, too. It’s gotten really pretty. I can’t wait to give it to where it’s going.

 



For Suzi
Monday February 05th 2018, 12:06 am
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

Walked into Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco Friday, and just inside the door was one single skein left among the other colors of Malabrigo laceweight baby alpaca/silk.

“That’s exactly what I came for!” I exclaimed to Kathryn. Archangel. Perfect!

I had some cashmere, red plied with a nearly tan off-white, a bit thinner than I wanted to work with. The silk content with the alpaca wasn’t so high as to make the strand snag and slip out if I knitted these two together but it definitely added a sparkle, and the mostly-salmon colorway bridged the colors in the cashmere.

The fabric they made is SO soft.

I knew before I started this morning who it’s for: a woman who is generous in every way, so her cowl needed to be, too. It came out a good size, and I ended it with a right-side row of yo, k2tog across (and then a purl row before casting off) to let the bottom edge fan out just a bit without having it sag or to have to add anything more than that. I wanted to be able to call it a night with a sense of accomplishment to the day.

Suzi was wearing something today that exactly matched this. Nice. Not that she knows that yet.

Nine repeats across and seven repeats down on size 8US later, it is drying.



The pinwheel toy
Friday February 02nd 2018, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

She loves orange, she told me last June. And blues. I didn’t have much orange in my stash–but I had this old ball in Lisa Souza’s Joseph’s Coat colorway.

I found the pictures. They were taken at night and by the bright light of day and the cowl was mostly somewhere in between, and maybe some of you remember it. I sure do. It came out so unexpected.

It started off with all the colors kind of melting together into an almost-purple, but then when I added a few stitches to widen it it changed the whole thing abruptly: individual colors stood out on their own and became like the brightest sunrise against the darkest clouds. I expected them to go back to how they’d been after I added a few more but they simply formed a new pattern altogether yet that continued off the second one.

No matter its quirkiness or even faults, of the three, this was the one she wanted to take away as a memento of the years they lived here.

I heard the news.

She’s a young mom.

Whose husband is now fighting a brain tumor.

That which they had gauged their plans by was suddenly thrown to the winds and what they are going through now is radically different from anything they’d wanted or expected. And yet there he is in his hospital picture, smiling, same as always.

In a hospital cap.

He needs a soft handknit one, stat. Even in San Diego.

If you feel inclined to say a pray or to Think Good Thoughts in Jerry’s direction and his family’s, it would be lovely. The G_d that I believe in honors either as love: and love is what we are sent here to learn and do.

May that great Love sustain them through all that lies ahead.



Glass and yarn chicken
Thursday January 25th 2018, 12:03 am
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

The phone rang: could I….

I had to drop something off for my daughter. It was dark and raining. I couldn’t see to adjust the mirrors, so I put the front passenger window down halfway to get a better view of that one.

The window would not go back up.

I tried the others (this may have been stupid) and they were fine. I turned the car off and on again. Reboot? Didn’t work. I debated going back inside and asking for help/advice/commiseration, but there was a tight time frame involved and I just had to go so I did.

I stepped in the door at home a little later and told him the problem as I gathered up plastic wrap and tape: at least the rain had mostly let up while I was out there with that down, let’s at least keep the water out, or more of it, anyway.

Did you…? he offered helpfully.

Three times.

Did you try it from the passenger side?

Twice.

It might be the battery…?

But if the battery were going then it wouldn’t have turned back on so easily and the other electrical things would have had a problem, wouldn’t they?

Say a prayer? Other than that we’ll just have to take it to the dealer next week. But try turning the car on again.

I had and I had (not the dealer part) but I did and I did, and this time I tried all the buttons on the door because hey, why not: the lock button, the auto button (thank goodness the driver’s window still went straight back up) while sending up yet another prayer, because heck, *I* didn’t know what to do. The rain of course was picking up again.

And suddenly that passenger window moseyed on up all casual-like like it had never been a problem. I just kind of sat there and stared at it a moment. I was not expecting that.

I ain’t touchin’ it. Neither is he. I think I’ll go put tape across the buttons to remind us. Up it stays.

——

And then I came inside and played yarn chicken on the last third of a hat, knowing I had a bit left from a previous hat as a back-up, knowing that splicing tightly-knit chunky yarn wouldn’t look great, but trying the thing on again and again as I went and knowing it needed that last plain row after a decrease row before going straight to decreases in all rows no matter how short that strand was getting, knowing the skein had only had 93 yards to begin with and I’d used a few on a previous project…

Somehow I made it. With a yard to spare, which is far more than I thought possible. And the hat is long enough. (I’d have done one more plain row after the k3 k2tog row if I’d known, but this will definitely do.)

I have no earthly explanation really for that either. Oh and did I mention my dad spent the night being checked out in the cardiac unit at the hospital? They sent him home yesterday and he’s peachy fine. One funeral of a father at a time is enough, thanks.

Sometimes, at the end of the day, all you can do is sit down and finish that hat. Something you can mend the splicing effects of if you need to. Something you can rip out and do over in baby size if you have to. Something you can make do what you want one way or another even if you have to change what you want out of it to get it.

And I didn’t even have to do that.



These guys (while I get back to finishing that hat)
Tuesday January 23rd 2018, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Knit

For non-knitters and knitters alike: this is delightful. A village that knitted their village.

For the knitters: this is brilliant. And instantly so obvious. It’s one of those, why on earth didn’t I ever think of that?!



On Beyond Zebra
Wednesday January 10th 2018, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Look what came in the mail today. Fifty wool hand knit finger puppets from Peru (each with a little Made in Peru sticker that is going to have to come off before toddlers get to them.) Five zebras, one alligator, two bearded, ruffly-footed iguanas, lions, monkeys, parrots, ladybugs, puppies…

The women can put food on the table there, I can make parents with fussy kids happy here, and everybody wins. How much did it cost? The answer to life, the universe, and everything (postage included).

After all the airport time we’ve done in the last two months my supply was getting a bit low. It was time to restock. 



And all other celebrations
Monday December 25th 2017, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Knit

A Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year.



Speed princess
Sunday December 24th 2017, 9:49 pm
Filed under: Knit

I had no idea that Minnie Mouse had such an intense fan. The color pink I could have guessed. (With sparkles!)

But what I did know is she has two big brothers, and a pink smiling Minnie Mouse in a racing car that zoomed away after you pushed her head to make her go seemed a good way to transition from being two to three.

And I quote: “It’s the best present ever!!!”

She and I played many rounds of zoom it at each other across the coffee table after that. The wood floor? You can get it to go really far if you give it an extra shove. The thick rug? Bogs its wheels right down.

Pulling your feet and knees together for it to slalom down to that table and then flip wildly at the bottom? I think that went over, or under depending on where it landed, the best of all. Crash boom bam is a toddler’s idea of comedy central.



Maddy
Sunday December 24th 2017, 12:07 am
Filed under: Knit

Come the morning it will be Christmas Eve.

And Maddy will be three. She celebrated the last of her two-ness today by teasing us via the anthem of that younger age: a repeated, grinning, ” Nooo!”

She was old enough now to use it as a conversation rather than merely a discovery of independence. To elicit a back-and-forth rather than simply toddling away. It was part of the listening now.



Rocket science
Friday December 22nd 2017, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Knit

We were uphill near the coast and everybody was looking into the night sky trying to figure out what on earth?!

Elon Musk’s Space X was the answer, turned out. Photos from Richard to come, hopefully while the two rockets were still close enough together to share the frame.

I wonder if the little ones will remember it at all. But–WOW.



Speed wreck
Thursday December 21st 2017, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Politics

Washing machines. So here’s what I’ve found so far.

There’s a reason the newer HE machines take an hour to clean your clothes: the enzymes in their detergents take up to an hour to clean away the soiled bits. If the machines work faster than that and your clothes come out still dirty, guess who gets the blame? Manufacturers don’t believe consumers pre-treat anything anymore and they build them on that assumption and if that means you get stuck waiting forever, oh well.

Speed Queen is the only brand still making machines with all-metal parts built to last decades; they wash the clothes, as the name implies, fairly quickly–and well–and with no electronics to go bad.

For about one more week. If you can find them. I found myself reading through pages and pages of discussion on the subject and stumbled across the statement by one reviewer that the government was requiring electronics by the end of the year.

Say what? How did that make sense?

So I called Speed Queen and got tossed to a technical-side guy there with a charming Midwestern accent who talked up the new model coming out and the electric parts behind the knobs now.

Electric? Are we meaning electronics here? I had to pin him down a bit: So are there going to be motherboards? (Having been quoted over $800 plus labor on a stove, on an oven, then on the other oven, all in upper-end major appliances under six years old. I am so done with that.)

He didn’t quite want to say yes, but, yes–and then he explained. You can set the machine to the size load you want, but the government doesn’t believe you won’t do anything but set it at extra large every time so they’re requiring sensors that automatically set the water level to match the level of the clothes. So, yes, he said, that reviewer was right: the old mechanical-only knob machines are only allowed to be sold through the end of this year.

If you can find one, he warned.

Suddenly my ability to face shelling out the kind of money those cost just shot way up. There’s a reason washing-machine sales are up so high and it ain’t quality in the other brands.

The rest of it is all still all-metal parts, he assured me.

I had one other question, the big sticking point for me: I needed a machine that could spin out hand washed woolens without spraying water on them; could theirs do that?

Only on one of the cycles, he said.

I only need one. Cool. Thank you so much.

Since I hung up the phone, I’ve had to wonder: Speed Queen had a twenty-year warranty on those all-mechanical machines a few years ago, while other manufacturers were cutting more and more corners and designing theirs to die at five or six years so you’d have to replace them. They were even discontinuing parts, said another person on that same thread, for not-much-older machines so you couldn’t keep fixing them.

I live in California. I know how to conserve water. Speed Queens were dunned for using too much, but someone in that thread actually measured the water going into the spray function of an HE machine and found it used about the same amount.

What I’m thinking is, someone doesn’t like the competition that comes when lots of people like me (and that’s probably most of us by now) want a machine without the stinking failing motherboards anymore. I wonder how much their CEOs donated to which members of Congress to shut down their competition?*

Because you know this Congress is absolutely capable of doing that.

Meantime, Speed Queen is putting their electronic ones through the ringer to try to make them as reliable as the old reliable. They have a reputation to maintain.

A klieg-light heads-up to the other major-appliance makers: you, too, could grab away a fanatically grateful share of the market if you made things that didn’t break down constantly. Like you used to.

 

*(Edited to add, turns out Rep. Upton of Michigan is an heir to the Whirlpool fortune. No surprise.)



No repairman yet
Thursday December 07th 2017, 12:06 am
Filed under: Family,Knit,LYS

Putting it off meant there were now 18 of them. That’s a lot of wool socks. I washed and rinsed them in the sink but there was no spinning them out–there was nothing for it but to squeeze each one long and hard away from the waiting ones. This after pushing myself to finish knitting that cabled hat whether my hands liked it or not (but I did it! No spoiler pictures for now.)

I asked him, Remember that conversation my mom said she had with her mom where Mom said she wished she had a live-in maid like Gram had had before the War, and Gram answered she’d have given her up in a second for a modern washing machine?

Someone young and strong to work that earlier contraption.

I told him, I want to upgrade to a ringer.

He chuckled. Then he asked about the hat: will it be warm enough?

It’s densely knit with overlapping cabled stitches knit on as small needles as as I could manage and it ate through a ton of yarn.

But Alaska. Will it be warm enough for him?

It would be if I lined it, and there’s room, I could, and that was the original intent, but even though I thought I bought extra I don’t have enough yarn left and the store in Anchorage is a bit too far to go back to. I don’t know if they ship. I do know I’m running out of time.

A contrasting color? he offered helpfully.

So what we had here was my husband working himself up to declaring that I must go to, most likely, Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. (Whose site seems hacked at the moment so I’m not linking it.) They carry Juniper Moon Farms.

So maybe the other Christmas presents and the still-waiting afghan just got pushed further back and that hat isn’t quite so done after all.

Hopefully, having to hand wash and squeeze out every piece of clothing in the house soon will be.



Well that socks
Sunday December 03rd 2017, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I knit the ribbing for the cuff of my son-in-law’s hat, then doubled every other stitch and hoped that would be enough. Cabling overlaps stitches and draws them in tight and you need a lot more of them to be able to get the thing on your head when you’re done. It sat there for days while I debated whether I needed to rip out and redo those first three rows above the ribbing or not, till I finally decided I had to move forward before I knew enough to decide to go backward. Or not. Try those first cables and see where it got me, but you can’t just sit there.

After all that angst it’s coming out just exactly right and I am very pleased with it. It’s slow going, given that I’m used to knitting lace with its holes and stretch and airspace, whereas this has (at least to some extent) wind-blocking density and a good solid warmth.

As I’ve been working it, the short straight cable needle with its points at each end bemuses me: for years and years, given that I’ve been doing cabled knitting since my teens, I wondered why on earth they sold them in sets of four or five when you only ever needed one.

Right?