It’s for sale
Monday February 04th 2019, 11:37 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,LYS

About ten years ago I was having a conversation online with Tina Newton of Blue Moon Fiber Arts. The knitters here may remember the story told by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee of the yarn dyer whose Sock Yarn of the Month Club got yanked without warning after 9/11 by its bank as being clearly a source of funding terrorists, because the idea that people would sign up to buy yarn! To knit…SOCKS!! was just too outlandish for comprehension. And so without asking the customers if they’d been cheated by her site nor letting her know that they were supposedly on to her, her bank abruptly yanked all funds paid for that club out of her account and refunded everybody so as to stop her diabolical plans in their tracks.

None of her customers had asked to be refunded. She certainly hadn’t planned for that to happen to her company’s finances.

Yeah that was fun.

Anyway, so that’s how I heard of Blue Moon, and at one point she had a colorway named Rock Creek. My husband grew up a block away from Rock Creek near the Maryland/DC line. So out of sheer curiosity I asked if there were any connection to the one there.

Tina laughed that there must be a Rock Creek in every state of the Union–but, yes.

Wait, so…

We ended up putting down the computers and talking on the phone. Turns out she and I had grown up a mile, maybe a mile and a half away from each other and almost certainly knew people in common and definitely places.

And about dead center between our homes and familiar to all was the old Magruder’s blacksmith shop, built by a man who died in 1751. (The real estate listing got the built date very wrong.) The family home was a much larger house up the hill. It was this tiny one where his slaves lived, climbing a ladder to the loft above for a bedroom, a sober reminder of the past. If you scroll down on the county’s historical register page about it, you can see where the road to the right used to be that they wanted to tear down that house for so they could widen it.

The outcry was such that they rerouted the road past the back of the property instead and dead-ended the original going up the hill from the house. (You scroll down to the very bottom of that link and you see the spot where my mom turning right at the bottom of the photo got hit head-on by a school bus that had lost its brakes and gone over the center to try to avoid cars waiting for the light. Mom was fine.)

Someone from my high school is into historical structures and posted those links on Facebook.

And I wanted to go, Mom! Dad! This says that place has a basement! I think that thrilled me to read because it meant the poor souls who had no choice but to live there a very long time ago had more space to themselves than I ever knew, and I’m grateful for that.

But all my life I’ve wanted to see the inside of that house. Now’s my chance. Just a plane ride away, right?


Edited to add, one of my friends back home found a video showing the inside!



Post haste
Monday January 28th 2019, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I went looking for a box the right size and realized I might as well use the post office’s priority mail one; it’s usually cheaper anyway. I got something ready and packed for my niece as long as I was going there, set it down, went to address the next…

It hit me. Wait a minute. I’ve known my daughter’s friends for years–but it hadn’t occurred to me that I didn’t actually know their last name. They’d forever simply been B. & N. and since the baby blanket was going 1100+ miles away to a town they don’t normally live in, in the middle of nowhere, there had sure better be a last name on that box for that postmaster if I want that baby to get her blankie for sure.

It took a few hours for the text to get seen, but it was, and it was a relief when I got it–she wasn’t going to have to wait an extra day after all. And for the parents’ sakes: I’d so wanted the postmark to read today, the first day it could possibly have been. I wanted them to know all of us are there for them in their loss of his dad.

Got to the post office an hour before they closed.

And came out of there picturing that small face as she grabs her beloved blanket out of that box with all the exuberance of an 18-month-old, making the adults around her happy for her.

Hold on, little one, it’s coming!



Lot and lots
Thursday January 03rd 2019, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I know she didn’t do it to be thanked but I’m going to out loud anyway.

A little Anniversario, she offered? I’m never going to use it.

If you’re sure? I’d love!

And so a box showed up today that was big enough that I thought it was something entirely different that I’d been waiting for (more on that to come.) There were three and one dyelot-wise skeins of that Rios colorway, the prettiest rendition of Solis ever, an experimental Malabrigo run in merino/cashmere picked up at Imagiknit, and another in baby merino, spun thick… Yarn, yarn, more really good yarns–that photo just shows the top layer.

Wholly cowed–can I even do justice to all this? So soft. So pretty. 

So blown away. Thank you, Anne!

(P.S. And then she told me not to knit it for her but for other people. She’s on to me.)



The hat that elbowed its way past me
Wednesday December 26th 2018, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Saturday night I was taking something out of the cupboard and hit my elbow hard on the big wooden cutting board leaning against the side of the fridge there.

At least it wasn’t the one dedicated to chopping chocolate. That would have just been too cruel.

After a bit of Google, I was in no hurry to get it seen. It’s too late tonight. If it’s broken it’ll be worse tomorrow and that’ll tell us. No, no, it’s Sunday–let people have their day of rest. Who wants to bother anybody on Christmas Eve? C’monnn, on Christmas? It’ll get better.

Or not.

Which is why I finally went in today.

A splint *will* happen, said the search results. Period. The new doctor? Not so much. He was willing to have it x-rayed but if it was just a hairline then all they would do is tell me to be careful. Otherwise, he was talking surgery (suddenly a splint didn’t sound so bad.) But he didn’t think so.

There was that rib he didn’t think was broken a few months ago that turned out to actually be displaced. I’m the one who doesn’t always feel pain as much as I should, remember?

Right.

He may have called us afterwards while we we were still out, running errands; we came home to the answering machine having been bumped into the no messages position, so we’ll just have to wait till tomorrow, again. But at least we’ll know.

Meantime, having started this hat something like an hour before all this began, a few minutes before we left for the appointment I finally finished it–just in case I wouldn’t be able to afterwards. Remembering the six weeks of not being allowed to knit after I broke my hand (um, I made it to four) and after the frustration of this taking me too many days because it did not feel great to work on, I was going to get it finished before they could tell me I couldn’t. And I did. (Minus weaving in the ends.) So there.



Oh Christmas Tree
Friday December 21st 2018, 11:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

All those hats knit snug and warm in bulky Mecha, and a missing size-large yarn needle: it was stopping me. Well, that and the residual flu.

So I went to the local yarn store yesterday at long last (those hats have been waiting) and then Target and the drug store and found that that was pretty much all I was going to get done for one day.

Which meant that today, any pressure to get things to their recipients before Christmas was off: I was sending these because I was sending these and if it came the next day then all the more happy anticipation, right?

I sat down and ran all those ends in, now that it was a lot easier to do (thank you Uncommon Threads.) Eight hats. I got the tags sewn in. I got the ones going to my niece and her four boys boxed up, with an extra thrown in to keep in their glove box in case someone really needed just one more choice of color now that they were going to be seeing them in person. Or for them to warm a homeless person at random, give to my brother-in-law/ the kids’ grandpa, whatever they chose.

So, hats, done. The cowl for another niece, found a padded envelope after all, done. (Mumbletymumble) as an extra something going up to Alaska, done. Helped Richard move some stuff needing moving.

And suddenly my body was just done.

Nuh uh, you’re not doing that to me again–you’ve been doing that to me for three weeks and I’ve got me some catching up to do.

Yonder vacationing hubby (also recuperating from the same bug) to the rescue: between us we figured we could do it. He drove us to the post office and carried the boxes.

Pro tip: you can send five pounds to Alaska priority mail in your own box for $63 or you can send that same thing inside the post office’s official Flat Rate box for $18-something. And the stuff fit. Hey.

Shopping at Costco next and we actually somehow snagged a parking spot.

It took us a meal and a break and a rest, and then we had our annual conversation about, thank you for letting me get the lush full pre-lit Scotch pine I wanted and next time let’s just get a flip tree, okay? Unzip, twirl top over bottom, done. He agreed. (Storing them upside down helps preserve the bough structure in those, but we already splurged once; it’ll be awhile.)

The knitting is out of here and in the mail. The tree is skirted and decorated and the boxes are back in the garage. The stockings are hung, the Christmas quilt is out, and tomorrow after we go to the airport there’ll be more than the two of us here for a little while again.

In trying to take this picture a little later, I somehow managed to break the first glass ball ornament of the season. I have no idea why that makes it feel like it really is Christmas now but that totally did it.

Tradition!



Airporting
Thursday November 22nd 2018, 12:19 am
Filed under: Knit

The housesitter saw us off.

Alaskan air, after these past two weeks of fire skies at home, is cold and crisp and oh so blessedly clear.



Love your dear ones
Sunday November 18th 2018, 12:00 am
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

My friend Lisa Souza of lisaknit.com ditched dinner tonight after she looked out the window: instead, she and her husband were grabbing important papers and pets and throwing everything in the car at the speed of life.

She lives in a town some of the Camp Fire people had evacuated to.

A car on the road beyond had hit a power pole and gone down the embankment as the sky lit up in fire. Hours later she posted a picture she’d stopped a moment to snap that also showed headlights well below, pointed upwards, like, what just happened??

She reported that somehow the guy inside was okay and that the firefighters had tamped down the ferocious brilliance and were only checking for hotspots now. Those guys are good at what they do and I for one could never ever imagine doing it. Wow.

Our AQI is down to 144, rain is forecast for Wednesday and it looks like everybody will finally get a break.

What I really wanted to write about was all the cool stuff I knitted today, but I just didn’t. As the lungs slowly find clarity I intend to have more oomph. Tomorrow would be good.



North and south
Sunday November 04th 2018, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Spencer got his afghan and a matching hat yesterday.

Every child needs their favorite blankie. A hat, maybe not so much near the southern border, but then that means it’s the one warm hat he’ll have should he need it.

His cousin in Alaska could show him how it’s done.

Just as soon as he learns that putting on his mom’s boots doesn’t substitute for putting on pants in order to go play in the snow.

I can just picture the two together someday and the San Diego cousin going, You mean you get cold on purpose??



Crisp and sweet
Wednesday October 31st 2018, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Garden,Knit,Life

Just for this afternoon, I needed a project I didn’t have to pay attention to for the doctor’s office and I was fresh out. (Routine appointment, no worries.) Grabbed some violet merino/cashmere/silk Diamante I’d had Colourmart six-ply for me and cast on an hour beforehand and got enough done that you could tell what the pattern was going to be (and so it would be long enough that the curling bottom wouldn’t bug me–blocking will fix that later.)

I found myself sitting next to a fellow grandmother and knitter, a woman from India who loved watching my hands work as we delighted in each other. She was a treasure.

The doctor was the ENT whose love for taking care of his fruit trees had triggered my planting mine, and look where it got me now. Enthusiasm is contagious that way.

So I brought him a gift in a small Penzey’s box: one perfectly ripe, slightly funky-shaped rather small apple that had grown to fit the produce clamshell that had been squirrel-proofing it. I told him it was my final Fuji of the season.

He laughed in wonder, saying he’d picked his last Fuji in August!

Microclimates R Us, I guess.

It smelled perfect. I hope it was. There had been two, and we can tell you that the other had made it clear how good they were now.



Handknit warmth for the survivors and bereaved
Monday October 29th 2018, 11:00 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Life

A yarn store not far from the Tree of Life synagogue that was attacked is collecting squares to be made into afghans, with a deadline of December 1st and a request that you not weave the ends in (I imagine they want to use them for sewing the squares together in yarns that match.) Note that there are three synagogues that meet in the same building and all were affected.

Yarns By Design got permission from Nickie Epstein to share her Tree of Life pattern and posted it here.

I’m hoping I can find enough people in my area for us to finish at least one afghan in full.

I’ll let the shop tell the details of what they want. I’d love to hear any other ideas on designs.

Pattern: any and all designs and skill-levels are welcome
eg. Stars of David, trees, hearts, doves, plain, etc

Size: 9” horizontally by 8.5” vertically with a 5 row seed stitch edging
Yarn: Dk or sport weight (3 on the standard scale), super wash wool or other washable fibers only. Please make sure your yarn won’t felt!
Gauge: 6 stitches/in stockinette
Needle size: 5-7, or whatever you need to get gauge
Style: knit or crochet

All samples can be dropped off at the YBD boutique by December 1st, or mailed to us at:

Yarns By Design
622 Allegheny River Blvd
Oakmont PA 15139



There be Dragon
Friday October 26th 2018, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

Spent part of the afternoon hanging out at Green Planet: I had decided that the way to get this baby hat finished that I’d been avoiding was to spend some time with knitters. It had been too long. My hands don’t love the small needles, but in the context of a good conversation there were enough pauses and breaks without even thinking about it. And it was a simple knit.

It worked!

They had the most perfect rendition of Malabrigo Rios in Solis and I believe in supporting the yarn store that offers me their table and time with good friends.

Plus some Classic Elite Chalet baby alpaca/bamboo, one of my favorites, because that company has closed its doors and when the stock is gone it’s gone. For anybody who hasn’t heard.



Bok, bokbokbokbok
Sunday October 21st 2018, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Knit

That was the closest game of yarn chicken I have played in a long time. Six inches–less than the leftover length from the long-tail cast on. Definitely put that full skein to use.

Now for the quick soak and shake to let those stitches relax.



Katherine now
Wednesday October 17th 2018, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

One week ago, a name popped up in the comments on a Facebook post and I did a double take. We instantly friended each other, and I got to read about a few of her experiences with Catholic Relief Services in Africa. (Do you still go by Katie? I haven’t gone by Katie for 35 years! …I’m behind…)

Then yesterday she posted a picture inside San Francisco airport–because the airline had lost her bag and she was going to have to go fast to buy some clothes before the meeting tomorrow in…

And I went hey, that means you’ll be driving practically right past my house!

Which is how Katherine, my friend since junior high and whom I had not seen since high school graduation, carved two hours out of her very busy trip and spent them today with me and we caught up on forty-one years of life.

“You kind of disappeared,” she told me. I did. I married at 21 and then school and grad school and being broke and kids and distance and we simply didn’t get home for a long time and have never been there for long when we are. I have not seen my favorite mountain laurel in bloom but for three fading tiny blossoms on a single cluster since I was 18.

She married late and no children came, but he was the great love of her life. To describe his generosity, she described his knitting: she was one of six children and there were all these nieces and nephews on her side. One Christmas he knitted them all mittens.

Double knitting mittens. Twenty-four pairs!

Twenty. Four. Pairs. Of double knitting??

I was completely boggled.

He was completely adored.

Ten happy years. Then his cancer. Even in hospice, right to the end, she said, he was knitting for others.

And he loved my friend Katherine and that alone would have been good enough for me. I so wish I could have met him.

I told her, My memories of you from junior high is that you were always nice to everyone. Without fail. At a time in life when kids are so easily snarky and mean you were unfailingly kind.

She was someone I wanted to be a lot more like. Still do.

I sent her back out into the world with a copy of my book and some knitting (thank you for the gorgeous yarn, Lisa!) of my own.

Alaska Air reimbursed her on her clothing purchase.

It was their baggage handling that sparked us those two marvelous hours.



Baby hat
Sunday October 07th 2018, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Curious. And here I thought that skein looked pretty close to a solid color.



He’ll never be this tiny again
Friday October 05th 2018, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

Spencer, so very very new.

Meantime, a conversation two days ago: no, you can’t pay me to knit a cowl for your mom like yours but tell me her favorite color.

Her: Purple and pink and happily wears wool.

Me, now that I’ve finished the survivor’s one: