Trial by foyer
Friday January 24th 2020, 11:53 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Politics

All those Senators risking, as is stated at the beginning of each session, imprisonment for leaving the chambers during the proceedings–it’s been reported that quite a few of the Republican ones have been wandering out to the cloakroom. They say it’s hard to sit still. They say the chairs aren’t ergonomic.

Well, okay, so the proceedings do go on and on, sure.

But didn’t you guys bring your knitting? I mean, look at this–I had all of half a diamond done on this when the trial started. My grandmother-in-law knit a wool herringbone jacket during long Congressional hearings where her husband was being grilled years ago. (He was head of a government agency, it came with the job.)

You can’t make anything with fidget spinners, guys!

Wednesday January 22nd 2020, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

Cousin John told me about twenty years ago that he was allergic to wool. After his mother’s funeral in May ’18 I gave him a piano hat made of super-soft old-stash Epiphany yarn: royal baby alpaca, cashmere, and silk and no sheep. I’d remembered.

His parents had met playing in the Symphony and he was a gifted musician himself and that keyboard around his head was the perfect design for him. He was in great pain at the loss of his mom, whom he’d been caretaker to, but took much comfort in the offer of that hat and it meant a lot to me to be able to help in any way.

I told John’s sister that if one of the siblings wanted it that was fine with me but if not, I’d love to have it back if at all possible. She hadn’t seen it. I was given the executor’s phone number.
The man sounded absolutely overwhelmed. The loss, the pain, and now the burden. He was horrified to realize that he thought he remembered it but that he was thinking it had probably gone out in the trash with so much else. He apologized. “There was just so. much. stuff.”

I told him he didn’t have to look for it. But if he did find it not to worry at all about what condition it might be in—I would wash it. He didn’t have to. That was on me. And if I didn’t see it again, that’s okay, just know he had my thanks for all he was doing for our John whom he loved, too.

Monday while I was still in town after the funeral his sister Amy stopped by my mom’s house a few hours before I had to leave for the airport. She didn’t know who had found it nor where but she had the hat, she wanted to make sure I got it, and I think she wanted to see how happy it made me to get it back. So much more personal than popping it in the mail later. (She got a Malabrigo Mecha one, picking a pinks-and-purples colorway and leaving the two blue ones for the mechanic I didn’t know I was going to see the next day.)

It takes a fair bit to make animal fibers pick up smells and there wasn’t much of a one (blame the silk?) but there was some and it’s clean and drying now.

All the things that I knit, all the knits that I give away–that one I won’t again. That’s my Blueberry now.

Thank you, Stan out there. And Amy, and I don’t even know who all else to say that to.

I dream of gene-ey
Tuesday January 14th 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

So this got started: that’s an instant-gratification swatch from the weekend with the water smushed out of it and the towel there on the footrest straight from the sink. Good enough for measuring where you don’t have to worry about the fit.

But having just finished a project that for weeks took my thoughts when it wasn’t taking my actual time, today I just didn’t touch the new one at all. I had work to do.

My yarn storage is now more organized and the room is straightened up and vacuumed, and I made good headway on that other room, too.

It’s good to know there’s at least one organizing gene in there. It may be recessive but when it’s expressing itself you run with what you’ve got.

Over in the guest room
Saturday January 11th 2020, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Politics

After the scouring to get the mill oils out. I get to tell the new parents that it’s already been washed in water too hot to touch.

The answer to the lace pattern pulling the edge pieces upwards after the cast-on: run in the ends only through there, and then again from the other direction. Weigh them down, add the bulk, it’ll straighten them out and make them stay straight–and they did.

And while I was doing that I worked on the back of the join areas to tug down anything sticking out and it worked. Nice and straight now all around.

I didn’t get a good picture of any of that but I did manage to capture the damp afghan in direct afternoon sunlight.

On a political note, should you be interested, my cousin Jim, formerly a Republican and definitely far to the right of me, had a few things to say. 


Cashwool afghan
Friday January 10th 2020, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Turns out, all it needed was for a Great Big Corporation to put me on hold long enough on speakerphone.

It’s not exactly how I’d do it next time but it’s pretty darn snuggly and good. Note to self: I needed to add a pair of plain rows before going into the lace pattern for the separate edging pieces. That’s obvious now and I should have seen it.

Now to go scour the mill oils out in hot water. I will not, however, run it through the dryer and totally fuzz it out–that’s for the parents-to-be to mess with (or not as they choose), I want to present it at its best.

Note to self: two strands dk Cashwool from Colourmart, size 5.5mm US 9 needles, 183 stitches, 51.5″ wide by 62.5″ long after rinsing but before scouring in hot soapy water, and it took 1125 grams (not quite two and a half pounds) to make. My swatch promises it will not shrink appreciably even in the dryer.

(Note: If you click the Show Items: All button in the upper left on the Colourmart page, you can see the sold-out Lavander (their spelling) color that I used to check against the Violet that’s in stock. Mine’s lighter.)

Edgy edgy
Thursday January 09th 2020, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Knit

On the left: blocked with nice straight edges that didn’t last, on the right, blocking now.)

Having knit all day Saturday, my hands were not in the mood for working much on that afghan. I felt guilty about taking a break Sunday and Monday and got some done Tuesday. Wednesday, not much. (Plus the news on my cousin kind of took the wind out of me.)

Today I looked at what had to be done and when I needed it done by.

Actually, when I told my husband I felt I had to give it to his cousin on Sunday, his response was, What’s the hurry? Give it to her when the baby gets here.

I prefer to add to the happy anticipation. That and, hey, you, don’t abet my procrastinating, okay?

I realized later that wait, to block the second edge to sew the two of them onto the afghan to wash the afghan to dry the afghan to gift it–meant I had to finish the second edging today. It was about four inches long.

Saturday all over again, with more breaks.

All of which is leading to the question: would you join such a piece to live stitches or cast off ones? I’m leaning towards cast off, just to minimize how far a future broken stitch could run. (I’ve got live ones at the base of the afghan right now, having cut off the original edging, and having it run upwards creates a real mess.)

While I’m at it I think I’ll rip out those purl rows top and bottom of the afghan: the ones along the side don’t really show and those do.

Once I’ve got all that done I should probably knit a very simple edging all around the edging to smooth out those blocking-resistant angles, that instep at the heel of the lace in the edging. Right?

And so the perfectionism and overthinking continues.

Why even people who can’t draw should sketch
Sunday December 29th 2019, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Ten tall clumps of green that, a hundred years later, would become a fairy ring of redwoods towering above. She grew up in the redwoods, she knows every stage well. A single tree to each side towering alongside the height of the inner section of blooming bougainvillea, then a matching row of those clumps again.

It all sounded good in my head.

I botched I don’t even remember what on the first clumps and so since I was going to have to rip it out anyway, I took it off the needles and spread it out to see if the width matched my gauge swatch while I was at it.

Wow. No.

Well, then, okay, eight clumps.

But then the flowers were going to be too close together. At that point I’d frogged three times and the baby’s due date was looming and it was getting late that night and I didn’t want to think about it, I just wanted the clumps to stay done this time and to ditch the frustration and get the thing finally past that point. So I did. With seven repeats across.

Which is why as soon as I’m done with the fifteenth repeat (might make it sixteen) I am going back to that beginning and snipping a few rows below the line of purl stitches and working the strand carefully out across to drop the bad part off while leaving enough yarn to go back and cast off from.

And then–this is the hope right now, anyway–after a minor blocking to make sure I can get the sideways to match the lengthwise, I’m going to knit two pieces that look like the sides and sew them on to frame the thing all in the same pattern. Fallen redwoods provide a great deal of life in the forest.

Or I could keep it simple and rib the live stitches upwards at the top and downwards from the bottom or just skip all that altogether and leave it plain. Eh. We’ll see how patient I feel at that point and whether the baby comes early.

But that mismatched bottom–it has to go. It kinda hurts to look at, it’s so bad.

Monday December 23rd 2019, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Knit

So I ordered this little 6.25″ round leather shoulder bag from a used-goods site that was new to me. I remembered seeing them for sale elsewhere back when those were new, and at $13 for it including tax and shipping, yeah, now it was something I could let my curiosity give in to.

It came, and I tucked the box under the tree.

An email from the seller: did I like it?

Yes, but I’m waiting till Christmas to open it.

A few hours later I got a note from the site explaining that the seller was not going to be paid until I’d inspected the goods and officially accepted it.

Ohmygoodness. I wasn’t trying to hold up her money… I ran, opened the box, made it official to the site and sent a message to the seller explaining my newbie ignorance and apologizing. She was quite gracious about it.

So the point of all this?

We’ve been doing a lot of flying the last few years and my very tall husband likes to sit in the front-most seats if at all possible so his knees don’t hurt–but you’re not allowed to put anything under those seats, your stuff all has to go up above.

Having a ball of yarn wedged between and behind the two of us (no flight attendant has ever said boo to that) means that occasionally it goes flipping out of there. I can’t set it up in my purse at my feet.

The canteen bag: it’s by the same company that made my big purse with the trio of knitted cables embossed into the very nice leather, and I would dearly love to find one like it when it officially gives up the ghost, to the point of having shown it to handbag makers who show at Stitches West and asking them to make something along those lines–it would sell like hotcakes there.

It is clear that Charlotte Ronson of the CR logo, whoever she is, is a knitter. And that she likes to work with good materials. I wonder, did she think of ball winders when she designed this?

Imagine flying with that canteen bag as your necklace, pulling a cowl or hat or socks-on-circs project from it and having the ballwinder-wound flat cake of yarn in a place so custom-made for it as you knit away.

If they tried to count it towards my two carry-ons I could easily tuck it into my larger purse while embarking.

The only question is do you think I could get away with calling it leather jewelry so I could keep it on the whole time? But if not I could always tuck it behind and between us at landing if need be.

(Edit: and then I found a version that IS a necklace, in my eyes, anyway, in wood. Not that I’m buying another nor at that price, but, proof of concept.)

The cache’s out of the bags
Wednesday November 27th 2019, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Knit

Four white afghans out of six in two years. Because you can’t go wrong with gifting someone with 50/50 pima cotton/highest grade cashmere, and it came undyed.

But my brain, my brain. Colors! Save me!

Some of these looked better together here in the sunlight than they do now at night, so not all these will go in. The orange got ripped back out. But these are way more fun to look at.

Mark my woulds
Thursday November 21st 2019, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Knit

Does anybody else do this? I sometimes put a bit of random yarn next to the second stitch in from the edge as I start knitting so that I have a marker to show just how much I’ve gotten done that day and to nudge myself to do better after days when I don’t.

Sixty-eight hundred stitches yesterday was a bit much, though; I mostly gave myself a break today.

Climb every mountain
Wednesday November 20th 2019, 11:31 pm
Filed under: History,Knit

Impeachment hearings, the Democratic debate: given Sondland’s testimony today, we could impeach the entire administration. Think of the knitting time!

Home, home on the range
Friday November 08th 2019, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Knit

The eagle is begun and done and now for the mountains.

This time, I wanted the mountain range to be a better match to the view where they live, so I spent a lot of time looking at photos, both online and some I took in September–and I actually did a pretty good job knitting that skyline the first time, especially on the left.

The new ones have begun.

Saturday November 02nd 2019, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,LYS,Politics

I was at Fillory yesterday, sitting at the large table there visiting with friends and knitting away as people came and went around us, when I found myself getting up to check on the yarn they were winding up for me.

Usually I start off by picking out a skein, paying for my afternoon’s entertainment with it, then pulling up a chair to knit the previous week’s ball into a hat while the staff turns the new hank into a ready-to-knit ball and then they come and bring it over to me. There’s a line at the ballwinder? I’m in no hurry.

But that all just felt too passive this time.

There was a customer I don’t remember seeing before: browsing, going to the clerk to ask a question, looking around some more, kind of hanging back from other people the whole time. She’d been in there about ten minutes.

It wasn’t the head scarf that caught my eye, it was that she seemed so unsure of herself. Maybe she was a beginner and we all looked like experts to her.

But maybe not. Her clothes and accent marked her as an immigrant, I’m guessing from Africa, and I know that rather than the welcoming country we used to be our government has of late made it harder for those not born here, no matter how they arrived, to feel at home.

Often of a Friday afternoon every seat of that table is filled, but this time there were several nice chairs open. Good. I invited her to come and sit and knit with us, if she would like to.

You should have seen the transformation in her face! She had not expected to be welcomed. She had not expected to be claimed as belonging.

Practically speaking, she probably didn’t know if it was a formal class or group or what, but clearly, intruding on it would never have occurred to her. That particular good time and camaraderie she was quietly observing over there was for others.

But we were just random people and she had every right to be right there with us. I knew that it would make our group all the better if she did.

She smiled and shook her head no.

But she was just transformed and she stayed happy and that made all the difference to me, too.

A Costco-sized bag of Hersheys
Thursday October 31st 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

So this is fun.

Or not.

I could just rip out all seven pine trees to get down to an easier do-over. Tried four times to make it come out looking right. Any variation on the concept will do at this point.

And then I ditched it for the evening, because trick or treaters were coming and you don’t want to have to break the concentration, right? Riiight. It does actually look a little better than this at this point but it’s amazing how much time can disappear into so few stitches. And no, just working them straight up as a solid piece and disappearing the dandelion forever won’t work–look how much extra yarn there is by the time you get to the top. All those yarn overs.

What it needed was a double-pointed needle at every stitch. Got it.

I didn’t want to lose 3000 stitches in a grand frog-for-all but at this point I probably might as well have.

Meantime, the neighborhood posted a map of who’s giving out candy, and in the large square block, that would be us and all of two other homes, the three of us being the points on a large triangle.

Not a single kid came. We were just too far out of their way. But I did get to wear my dad’s jewels-colored jester hat!

Color Guard
Tuesday October 29th 2019, 8:41 pm
Filed under: Knit
(Photo by Carolyn Richards)

Two men approaching. Turning in tandem just so. Lifting then folding the flag that had been draped over the coffin. Smoothing it down in a crisp motion. Again. Again.

The one striding in controlled, perfect steps to Mom, bowing low with the now-three-sided flag in his hands, thanking her for Dad’s service to our country and then placing the token in hers.

I was sitting next to her watching his eyes looking straight into hers and it was deeply moving.

I know it’s memorized and rehearsed. And yet–how often now do those two young soldiers get to pay their respects to the new widow of a WWII vet? To honor her as well. Our Greatest Generation.

May our country do the same for their families, hopefully seventy or so years away, when it is their turn.