Oops not that one
Sunday October 15th 2017, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

That Arroyo project?

We had to be at church about fifteen minutes early, so after doing the one small thing that needed doing we settled into our seats and I pulled out my knitting. I personally wouldn’t do it during the meetings themselves, but hey.

I loved how the pointillist colorwork was coming out in the fabric.

A dad and teenage daughter sat down behind us a few minutes later, and right after that, I stopped at the start of a row and looked a little harder at the thing. And yeah I had–I’d been missing two stitches right from the beginning and had been going merrily past that point ten times or so without noticing.

I tried. There was no fixing that and making it look good. It took me a moment to get all hundred stitches off that circular needle but then (with a quick glance at the clock–yes, I definitely had time to do this) I had that thing back to (slightly kinked) plain old yarn in no time.

And then I turned to the good friends behind us and said, That’s one of the things I like about knitting. If you make a mistake that is totally unfixable and unredeemable, you can rip it all the way back and it’s totally gone. And you can start over.

They cracked up. Bonus sermon, right?

And I bet, if you ask that kid ten years from now what she remembers about my knitting, it’ll be the day I let’er rip.



Hanks a bunch
Monday October 09th 2017, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Knit,Life

Crohn’s flares: food becomes hard to digest and you don’t much want to eat anyway (so you try to at least make everything you do eat super-duper healthy.) Yeah, been through this before. And one of the things that happens is your muscle tone vanishes, just vanishes, faster than makes any sense.

Not this time. Not if I could do something about it, I told him last night: and so, treadmill, yes, and I was going to wind up yarn in the morning.

And that is how this 420 gram cone finally got turned into a hank. (Oops, broke a tie there. No, two. It is big.) It’s about two thousand yards and my niddy-noddy holds two at each go-round. Somehow, thankfully, it did not pop off the thing and fall into a million tangles on the floor. (You know, Alison, you really could break the yarn and make it into two or more if you weren’t trying so hard to prove you didn’t have to.)

It is scoured, as pre-shrunk as I could make it, and I may have to take a hair dryer to it. All the better to strengthen those arms with.



Aftobering
Saturday October 07th 2017, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knit,Life

(I just moved it, here, let me straighten up those edges.)

It’s Aftober, named for my friend Afton who instigated the tradition of October being the month for finishing projects. For whatever reason. Be they new or long-dragging, pick it up, get it done, and now you have a reason to.

And that is how the black scarf got done. And today that’s why the teal silk project that had been carried around in my purse since July–well, I did about half of it today and got it over with. It had been dragging because I only bought the one skein at Stitches and I wanted it to be for me since I could not duplicate that yarn nor that color and it matches a lot of things I really like.

But I am not high on my knitting list right now.

But those needles it was dangling from… I wanted those back. And so I freed them of that soft single-ply bombyx and it is drying now. I didn’t spin it out in the washer because of that loose ply–it would fuzz out like crazy in the spinning and I prefer how it looks now, and thus I am moving it around every so often as the one part of the old drying quilt gets a little too damp.

Bombyx silk, i.e. from the silkworms that eat mulberry leaves rather than, say, oak (re tussah silk) has this distinctive smell to it when it’s wet. How much depends on how much of the siricin (silk gum) has been washed out.

It always takes me straight back to my mom’s kitchen and that little dark brown bottle way up high.

I remember asking Mom about it one day.

She told me that her mom had insisted on feeding her kids cod liver oil and had been adamant that Mom have some for her own kids.

Mom dutifully got that bottle and put it up there… Nothing else medicinal in that cabinet, just that. (Maybe where Gram would see it?) It had been there as long as I could remember, unmentioned and untouched as far as I knew.

Mom got it down and opened it up and let me take a whiff.

EWWWW!!!! Gram made you EAT that?!

Just a spoonful.

Mary Poppins and her spoonful of sugar wasn’t going to help that stuff one little one bit. Gag. I winced that Mom had had to go through that. It was clear she appreciated my horror.

You know how grandparents and kids traditionally team up against the parents? On this one, it was me and Mom together, absolutely. Mom chuckled and put it back up there where it could do no harm.

And no the silk doesn’t smell just like that, but there’s just a hint of reminder of it, somehow, to me, anyway.

Never mind that. Nice, soft wormspit around your neck. It’s what’s good for you.



Tuxedo colors
Wednesday October 04th 2017, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I broke my own rule recently: I started knitting straight off the cones without scouring first. Two strands together. I didn’t want to hank/scour/wind all that fingering-weight yardage for days, I just wanted to knit, even if it wouldn’t be as soft in the hands yet nor be preshrunk. Eh. If I wanted to finish an afghan in any kind of time I had to get started.

That can work–if both yarns are the same kind of fiber, and they probably are. But I got one of them at a particularly steep discount because it no longer had a label stating for sure that it was cashmere like the other, rather, there was a question mark after the word just in case they were wrong.

And so I spent a day making all kinds of progress.

The more I worked with it the more I let it hit me that if the uncertain one might actually be merino, it would be a good, soft merino that I still paid a very good price for. The twist rates were different so it felt different in the hands and that’s probably all there was to it. But…merino would shrink like crazy once the hot water hits it and you need hot water to get those mill oils out. The definitely-cashmere would shrink, too, but not as much. So we could make some pretty interesting fabric here. Inadvertently.

Swatch? What swatch?

And so it sat there waiting for me to decide how I wanted to go on.

Today it said enough already, let’s get to it.

One side of me noted that there’s probably not enough of the smaller cone to start over and still make a full afghan. Scarf? Blanket? Blanket. Keep going.

The other side said, you made that decision when you went full speed ahead without even having any idea what the dimensions would be after you finished knitting and washing. It’s not like there aren’t lots and lots of people who’d love a charcoal cashmere cowl, nothing on those cones could go to waste, once you break the yarn you can finally wind off that yardage like you should have.

And so, still trying to decide, I finished the repeat on the needles and got it to about 9×60″. I could widen it with another repeat or two (shrinkage, remember, shrinkage) and that would be good–but those ninety minutes were enough of the splittiness and the not-s0ft-that-should-be-soft for one day.

So it’s finally settled. Scarf. The shrinkage will determine whether it will be a classic long scarf or one with the ends sewn up for a double-looped cowl. All I’d had to do all this time was knit on it a little more to know what to do, just let my hands feel it and do the deciding, and they did.

And then I got halfway on a new, soft, white silk/cashmere cowl project because I guess I just needed that contrast.



Squashed
Sunday October 01st 2017, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

After a good head start and then four two-hour sessions of Conference, this is where I am.

I didn’t get that last hat started before the last session began and so my attention wasn’t on it during the one part where it needed to be. Which is how I got to rip it all out after the first row four times. (Note to self: wait for the Tabby Choir to sing. With them, you already know the words.)

Hat number three doesn’t have a stem. Yet. I wanted the orange cast off this time before adding that.

A certain grandma looked at the calendar and guffawed at herself for having willed the visit with the grandkids to be weeks closer than in real life, so it looks like I’m going to put the add-ons on myself, ship’em off so they can have as much time as possible enjoying them, and let the kids negotiate where or if they want decorative parts changed or moved when we see them. And as for that third stem, I think I just didn’t want to do that really fiddly part while trying to listen to the speakers.

I am just a bit pumpkinned out for now. I’ll knit that last hat tomorrow.



Curled up or curled under?
Friday September 29th 2017, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

No bottom ribbing on this one. At least for now.

So I tried to do a three by three stitch cable across a fourteen-stitch stem, just to see how I could make it twist, and I don’t think I’d try it that way again. Still. It’s fun to play around and see what comes of it.

And then there’s always the inside-out version and the surprise at how much wider and straighter it is.

On to hat two.

 

Update: I posted this and then went, wait–did I drop a stitch in that stem? It’ll run all the way down. Rip. That’s okay, the top of the orange came out way too loose anyway.

Wait–did I skip closing the arches on the second needle that time? I did. Rip.

Okay, NOW it’s done. The top orange is tightened up a lot and the stem makes a lot more sense.

Update on the update, working on the next hat: suddenly realizing that oh wait. These two circs I’ve been working on. One is a seven. The other is an eight. They’ve been mismatched all along. (Finds another seven.)

Don’t tell on me.

 



The new guy
Wednesday September 27th 2017, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I had a good, honest mechanic and his brother for twenty-eight years. Who just retired.

On a strong recommendation, I took the car to someone new today for routine maintenance, with a sudden low-pressure idiot light on a tire as extra incentive. I hadn’t particularly wanted to go there; I liked being able to walk from and to the garage and there was no way with this one. But I knew nothing about the folks who took over my old guy’s place–except that a big corporation wants to redevelop their site, the neighbors are fighting it, the city council looks like they’ll approve it, and the landlord is seeing the dollar signs. So they might not be there very long.

The guy asked me if I wanted a ride home or to stay in their waiting room, stocked with newspapers and the kinds of book you could pick up a great recipe from or browse through, thoughtfully chosen pick-up-put-downs of the kinds that you’d want in such a circumstance.

A ride home and then a return pick-up later? Wow. It would only be an hour, hour and a half? Hey. It was early morning, I had my hot cocoa in a thermos with me and my knitting in my purse–I was all set.

I glanced at the local daily and read up on city politics as my hands worked. The old mechanic had never had a place to wait in. This was great.

The guy stepped into the room and looked like he was about to ask me how I was doing when he saw the blue yarn and the needles. He got a wonderful smile on his face and asked if I were knitting a gift? He was highly pleased that yes, it was. One of his young employees stopped by what was also their break room and he too was delighted and asked me what I was making.

They got the car done in a bit under an hour and it was time to pay.

Wait, what?

(He wasn’t sure what the problem was.)

No seriously, seriously?!

Well, he joked, I could move the decimal over for you if you’d rather.

Since when does someone spend that much time on my car and only charge me $43? Last time I checked on the going rate on mechanics around here, and that was at least ten years ago, it was $60-70/hour.

And so now I have a new place to happily knit when I need to be there.



Productive week
Saturday September 23rd 2017, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

When I said I had two weeks to do those two color requests? It wasn’t till this morning that it suddenly hit me, Wait–General Conference is next week! Women’s Conference is today, not the General–the first full weekend in October, not one split down the middle with September. Oops.

And so I sat down at ten a.m. and cast on the beige I’d been avoiding (boring…) and was determined to have it done even if I hadn’t given myself a whole lot of time to do it in. The green/orange/yellow request will get shown a green one and green/orange/yellow/blue yarn and get to choose stripes-to-be or the solid that is ready to go, but I had to have L’s ready, too.

Hey, said my fingers as the number of stitches gradually piled up. Cashmere definitely makes that nice, calm color feel wonderful. (Thank you Colourmart mill-end sets.)

I kept at it and kept at it and knitted some more during that one women’s session and now all it needs is to be dry in the morning. I might help it out with that after I finish typing this.

I ran in the ends on all these and two other projects that hadn’t happened on: all ready to go now. Not sure why I so often procrastinate that part.

Those hats, though. I am really really looking forward to seeing those girls happy. 



Happy Anniversario
Wednesday September 13th 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life,Music

So I had this hank of yarn.

Actually, I had three, in two dye lots of Malabrigo’s Anniversario colorway, which I really really like. So this one skein that didn’t quite match the others decided it had waited long enough and it was tired of being just another pretty yarn–knit ME now, ME! It reminded me that it was Stitches yarn, and not only Stitches yarn but Imagiknit yarn and I adore Allison at Imagiknit and that made it all the more enticing.

But whatever. This. It was not what I had planned on but it was suddenly the boss of me.

I cast on and did the first repeat last night before bed because it’s always easier to keep going than to get started.

Now, I usually turn on some music to knit by because I’ve done so for enough years that it’s become Pavlovian: music. Knit. In time to the beat. To the point that I stop the sound if I want to rest my hands and go do something else for awhile.

The Anniversario was compelling to the point that I didn’t even go fishing through albums to see what to put on, I simply sat down and worked away at it.

Mid-afternoon I suddenly realized I’d been half-listening all along after all. Just one song. Over and over again in my head and waiting for me to notice. And in the moment I did I suddenly realized what it was and how very long it had been since I’d heard it.

From the musical that I saw in high school–in Ford Theater (yes that Ford theater: “But other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”) Scoring tickets for it was a big deal at the time and there was a group of us kids that went together.

Godspell. The song, beginning as a small voice barely discernible calling from afar, drawing nearer and nearer: “Pree-ee-ee-pare ye the way of the Lord.”

In that moment I knew for sure this one was not for me no matter how much I love it–and that felt wonderful.

Picture taken in the early afternoon, two-thirds of a cowl ago: and it is finished.



Just about grown into it
Saturday September 09th 2017, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knit,Life

Start the day with pictures like this and then a FaceTime chat with a little one who wonders what you’re doing being a flat person interacting with him from a screen and everything else just goes right. (Hat done in 2×2 ribbing for stretch, Malabrigo Rios yarn.)

An article on American-made superwash wool: it’s a new thing as of the last half dozen years, and all because the military needed a good, fire-retardant material. An interesting read.



Begin: the rest is easy
Monday September 04th 2017, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Spinning

Mom! Something’s wrong! That thing is noisy!

He concurred: It is, dear.

Oh. Sorry, guys.

So I oiled the wheel and they and it still squawked. I told them I would take care of the rest as soon as I finished this bobbin so I could oil the shaft it was on. And that did it.

This morning I was looking at some cones of near-white 30/70 cashmere/merino (link correct now) and palest beige merino that had been bought to help me finish off some very old stash of brown cashmere laceweight single ply that was far too thin and fragile to knit as is. Last night I had set four cones together and considered how they actually looked together. Today they didn’t want to be admired, they wanted to be plied, now!

Plans vs inspiration: having wanted to want to work on this for some time, now that I actually wanted to do it, do it!

I weighed one of the cones of the near-white cones after the first hank was all done to see how much of it I’d used up in the plying. I loved how much more interesting it made the light browns look. (And I can always overdye the result.)

Wow. Looks like I could make probably twenty-five hundred more yards of aran weight. Let’s see how long the enthusiasm holds out, but I won’t stop till I’ve got an afghan’s worth.

Meantime, thank you for the suggestions on the yarn for the girls’ hats. I spent a lot of time thumbing through ideas at Webs, since mobility is still a dicey prospect, and they have just about everything (snagging the domain name of yarn.com early on in the internet surely didn’t hurt.) I finally bought something that, if it isn’t enough colors, I think I can make do from stash.

And while I’m making headway on lots and lots of pale brown, soft, quiet, practical, (and, shhhhh–boring, don’t tell), those colorful hat projects in the middle are going to help me plow through.

Her friend’s wedding done, an airport run, and now it is just us two again.



Stash busted
Sunday September 03rd 2017, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The foster mom told no secrets: but when I said most fosters don’t even have a suitcase, just a trash bag to take their things in, she nodded emphatically yes, glad that someone knew. When I said that hat clearly must mean a great deal to Alex, she gave me an even more emphatic yes. I explained its having been so poorly sewn on the inside and why it risked popping out the last of it as Alex grew and showed her what I’d done to try to save it.

And I said I wanted to knit Alex something out of colors and fibers of her own choosing so that she would have something that had been made just for her.

Leaving church, I happened to turn around at the very moment Alex was getting her hat back and the little leap for joy and dance she did as she put it back on her head. She had it back! It was fixed!

I liked that. I liked that a lot. For her sake. This wasn’t a kid who moaned over its never looking quite like new again, she celebrated that this had been done for her. Like I say, she’s a great kid.

That family went home and the girls drew pictures of their dream hats they hoped for, with the mom promising to pay me for them, (not wanting to ask me simply to just go do more than I’d offered) with me answering that thanks, but that would take all the fun out of it–I want to do this for them and they’re happy about it and that’s all I need.

Of *course* I should have instantly realized her bio daughter needed one, too, as a bonding thing with her new sister as well as for her not to feel left out with the changes in the family. Yow. I’m not usually that slow, my apologies, that was a blindingly obvious need and I’d utterly missed it. Well, okay, so we got that taken care of.

I really liked those drawings (and hoped the colors came through true in her email) and the details offered. They’d really thought about it. Alex wants thick yarn and a fold-up beanie in stripes of vivid blue and black.

Two skeins of yarn and an excuse to go to a yarn store, I can handle that.

Her sister wants medium yarn and eleven narrow stripes: medium blue at the bottom, then purple, light blue, orange, medium green, dark pink, light pink, light green, light blue, peach, and a smidgen of light purple at the top. All the cheerfuls.

And me with my darker colors and little-boy stuff. And that bit of leftover Great Pumpkin. I could easily blow a couple of hundred on the one hat.

You know (even though the mom said they didn’t have to be) that they have to be knit in a machine-washable merino–so the kids will be warm (staying in California long-term is by no means a sure thing for them) and so the hats will survive any inadvertent trip through the wash. Having kids help with the laundry should always have only good results, especially with something like that.

So. Does anybody know of a soft self-striping superwash worsted-weight merino yarn in a colorway like that? Or two, that I could switch back and forth between? It would be so cool to be able to totally match what her mind saw.

Alex’s, too.



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.