Take your time
Tuesday July 17th 2018, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I had nothing ready. No portable project. My doctor appointment was in 40 minutes, c’mon, just pick something! I grabbed my one-and- only-ever cone of now-sold-out lavender Piuma and needles–no stash hoarding for you! Use it!

I got there early, signed in and cast on.

They apologized that the doctor was running 45 minutes late; I motioned towards my yarn and said, You’ve got twenty hours before I get antsy. For that matter, if someone’s appointment is after mine but they’re in a hurry they’re welcome to go ahead of me.

The guy laughed and clearly his day was suddenly a whole lot better.



Almost endless
Saturday July 14th 2018, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Knit

Back to the long-neglected baby afghan.

A question for the knitters: if you had to have four stitches out of every twenty-five in a second color nine times over, would you make nine bobbins to dangle and tangle? Or would you carry the yarn all the way across back and forth? Note that I am compulsive about twisting across the back of every stitch while doing fair isle, so that’s an intensive amount of untangling anyway.

I started with the bobbin idea. I ditched it after the first color change and went with the carrying but I’m second-guessing myself constantly. Bobbins would make a less dense fabric, less warm. They live in San-fer-cryin’-out-loud-Diego.

Right now it’s nice and thick and almost baby-proof. And very very slow going.



Someone’s about to get her choice of oranges
Friday July 13th 2018, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

Pattern: same old same old potato chip knitting.

Sixty-six grams out of my hundred and fifty and a generous-sized scarf you could actually wear on a summer’s cooling evening around here with plenty left to make a second one. It wasn’t quite done when Constance was here; she said it wasn’t quite dark nor red enough of a shade for her and she chose the deep teal green hat instead.

Color being everything.

The yarn is 65/35 cashmere/silk, exquisitely soft, but the version I bought was cobweb weight and thus very much on sale. Not a lot of people hand knit cobweb straight up. A shawl can be made out of a thicker yarn than that and still be fine enough to pull through a wedding ring.

So I paid Colourmart the $5 fee to twist it into a balanced (I did the math to see how many yards I wanted it to come out to) twelve-ply rather than fussing with it on my wheel. Well spent. I knit it before I scoured the mill oils out–I could just picture thousands of yards felting into each other coming out of the bath and trying to pry it all apart. Let’s not.

Unwashed, it split easily and drove me a bit nuts but I knew I would love it when I was done.

And oh I do. This is glorious. All those strands have settled down now into a proper yarn, and I wish I could hold it out through the screen for you to touch it.

I like things a little redder and darker, too, though. I’ll just have to give this one away. Such a shame.



Additional updates applied
Thursday July 05th 2018, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Knit

WordPress had a botched upgrade which hit many sites including this one.  I did some surgery yesterday to get the site back, and another update just a minute ago that appears to have succeeded.  Hopefully things are now working better than they were.

–Richard



Happy Fourth of July!
Wednesday July 04th 2018, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Mango tree

Another Piuma peach cashmere cowl, and I just cast on yet another. Except what I really want to knit right now, for no particularly good reason in the heat of the summer, is a thick warm hat. Maybe for variety’s sake? We’ll see.

The mango tree is loving the warmth, meantime (and me the air conditioning.) There are five smaller sprays of buds coming along quietly further back that will soon be as big as this one.



Flower power
Monday July 02nd 2018, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knit

The physics of knitting. Cool stuff.

Meantime, the little miniature hydrangea that my friend Edie gave me several years ago is holding its own against the encroaching coffeeberry bush, blooming in both sun and shade. I love that what had been a small tender potted plant from a florist actually held on and thrived out there even after a stump grinder took out the olive roots right by it.

It is small but it is determined to live up to what it was meant to be.



Maybe I do want to knit some more of that after all
Wednesday June 27th 2018, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

I’d been meaning to get the other half of this finished for some time. It was two strands of splitty stuff and not my favorite to work with, although I always love how it comes out when it’s done.

Yarn: one lighter shade one darker, vintage stash 95/5 silk/lycra, which I bought quite a few colors of when Colourmart had it. Hudson got a thoroughly impractical but gorgeous blanket out of it in neon royal blue when he was born. (And a cuddly Rios one later, which he wadded up and kneaded into his mommy’s side as she held him and then plunged his head into it. Wool for the win.)

In my experience the silk/lycra shrinks a lot in hot water. You do need some heat when washing the mill oils out.

Photo 1: Straight off the needles.

Photo 2: Hours after being scoured and spun out in the washer, still damp. It definitely shrank (note the buttons), but the pattern looks a whole lot better and both upper and lower edges are lying nicely flat.

I promise not to spend the next month waiting to run the ends in. That’s the easy part.



Drawing a turkey
Tuesday June 26th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Dad had a folder he wanted to show me while I was there. I’d never seen it before.

Carefully preserved, pristine inside the plastic, were sheets of lined paper with carefully near-perfect handwriting. Just ever so slightly faded from age.

Words had to come right to where they lined up at the right, which meant that there were hyphens announcing ‘to be continued’ plunked into the strangest places within those words. But the penmanship!

It was a five (or was it six?) page report on Thanksgiving by a third grader one hundred years ago that her parents had clearly been proud of and had kept.

The budding author was my grandmother.

And on the cover of that report was a drawing of a turkey.

I did a serious double take–I thought at first Dad had saved an old drawing of mine and why was he showing me that in the context of this and it totally threw me a moment. But no, it was his mother’s.

My grandmother the avid knitter, who ran the county chapter that knitted for the troops during The War in hopes that somehow that would bring her three sons home safely and sooner. (They all made it back, though one was deafened by the sounds of the warfare the ship he’d captained in the Pacific had gone through.)

I loved to draw as a kid and I can still pick out something I drew any time I see it all these years later. The inside covers of the books that belonged to me all had to be so adorned, with enthusiasm that sometimes spilled onto other pages, too.

To be charitable, you could at least figure out what the thing was supposed to be, and judged against some of my peers I really wasn’t too bad a doodler. But there was no great talent there.

My little sister on the other hand is a gifted artist–truly, go see for yourself. Yeah. Me? Only with yarn. I have forever been in awe of what Anne can do.

But I am absolutely gobsmacked that as a kid I drew exactly like another third grader whom I knew as the sweet elderly grandmother I only got to see a few times in my life before she was gone. The proportions, the angles, picking up the pencil here and moving it there, that careful control that thickened the line while trying to make a perfect half circle at the top of the head. Even the wattle was my turkey wattle.

Twins. In childhood and, with a nod yarnward, adulthood. Sixty-one years apart.



What happens in Vegas
Sunday June 24th 2018, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Cariaggi Piuma cashmere from the mill blooms immensely with washing, growing into a much thicker, denser-looking knit that is actually very very light. It fills up the visual spaces with color and yet air.

I was knitting it straight from the cone. I actually almost left the project home because of that cone. (Luggage space, knitting space in an airplane seat.) But I really wanted that cowl done. It was in a neutral that I could give just about anybody and just delicious to knit with, mill oils for now and all.

My tiny elderly Asian seat mate (part of what was clearly a large tour group) coming out of Salt Lake spoke almost no English, but she watched my hands intensely and gave me a smile and an enthusiastic thumbs-up. When I returned the smile, she reached gingerly for the yarn, felt it just for a moment and gave me another big smile.

She was tired and napped and suddenly woke up distressed to realize that we others in the row were being served juice and she wasn’t getting any; I knew how long she’d been waiting in that airport before our delayed flight and that she probably really needed that water. I should have offered her mine but didn’t know how to reassure her it was only apple juice.

I helped her with the flight attendant and she got taken care of. We were definitely friends now.

She got a particularly cute finger puppet just before she left and between hand signs and head shakes and nods she got that I hadn’t actually made that one; I’d just wanted to thank her for being her. She was delighted.

So. The cowl. Since I knew what it would be like when it was finished and washed, I was using needles that made the knitting look sloppy-loose. Quite.

An agent had told me I wouldn’t miss my connecting flight despite the delay because it was actually the same plane and they might even let me stay on in between. But, she warned, they might not.

Flight #1 landed, they made announcements, most of the passengers filed out–and at that point the flight attendant had time for me to ask the question when I could hear the answer: same plane? Just to make sure. May I stay here?

The answers were yes and yes, corrected by another to “but the memo said” and they went and checked together, followed by, alright: I could stay put.

So there were some by-now familiar faces that were the first to get back on the plane and I chuckled and nodded hello in acknowledgement as they came back on.

An older woman among them surprised me with, “I’ve been wanting to talk to you.” My best guess was that she had learned English with a British accent. She got in the #3 row behind me and leaned over.

Had anyone ever shown me how Germans knit?

Do you mean Continental style? I asked, and affirmed that I had.

She asked for my needles. She winced at the size of that yarnover that was right there but was trying not to mess up my work. She demonstrated, You do this. And then when you want to go the other way (she searched for the right terms in English) you do this. You don’t have to (and here she motioned in great sweeping arcs with her right arm) go like *this*.

She wanted so badly to help.

I chuckled and told her I knew my way was slower. I explained that my mom knits like she does and taught me how when I was ten. That when I was a teenager I’d wanted a sweater in one of her knitting magazines but was too much of a teen to admit I didn’t remember how, so I’d gone in my room and taught myself how to knit–my own way, it turned out.

Her face was saying, But this is not how it is done!

I said, It’s easier on my arthritis this way.

Ah. That made sense. Yes she could see that. Okay.

And we, too, parted friends at the end of the flight.



Roll over, Beethoven
Friday June 15th 2018, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Knit

I’ve done plenty of intarsia knitting in my life but I do it Kaffe Fassett style: snip as long a strand for each color as you can stomach dealing with and just pull it through and through and through, out from among the tangle of the others.

Except this time I’ll need enough of each color in this area that I decided it was time to cave and finally do knitting bobbins for the first time in my life.

It will surprise nobody that I didn’t have any.

An empty toilet paper tube cut in fourths actually seems to work quite well. Except I need more than… The recycling went out already, didn’t it?

Somebody go spill something for me, okay? Quick? That paper towel roll is almost ready.



Totally tubular yarns
Monday June 11th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

The weekend’s project. It will get even softer with age.

Then today, for instant gratification, Classic Elite Chateau: the yarn was thick, the yardage scant, and the needles big.

I ripped out the first attempt at the long-tail cast-on because it wasted a foot or two and you never know when you’ll need to go right down to the end of the skein.

Truer words… (yeah those stitches were getting a little smaller at the end there.)



That soft gray cashmere
Sunday June 03rd 2018, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

I finally learned how to pronounce her name today.

She’s a knitter? I…I… How could I not have known this! She’s so shy and so quiet, but offering her that cowl changed everything in an instant. She crochets, too, but she’d never knitted anything like this. She was blown away.

What kind of… She looked for the right words to ask.

I got it and grabbed my purse. I pulled out a circular needle.

Yes! That! She marveled over knitting needles that were all in one piece like that. Where do you get that?

It was a 4mm/US6 and apparently a fair bit smaller than she was used to. I told her where the nearest yarn store was, or maybe Michael’s, or online?

She did not know how to do it like this, though. Could I teach her?

Be still my heart. Oh honey yes. And there’s a book out there that has lace instructions (lace. That was the word she’d been looking for. English is not her first language) both in words and pictures. I couldn’t resist adding, And I wrote it.

(With credit thoroughly owed to Donna Druchunas for those diagrams and the charting.)

I told her I was giving her a copy next week (or next time, I explained, depending on when my aunt’s memorial service gets scheduled for. Aunt Bonnie cannot leave us without her children knowing just how much their sweet mother meant to my family and me.)

If only I’d done this good woman’s cowl a long time ago. But at least I did it now. We have us some catching up to do. This is so cool.



Stanford Ambulatory
Wednesday May 23rd 2018, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

With yet more hours on my hands, I wondered if that enormous lighting display in the ceiling was a deliberately artistic echo of the ones in the operating room. Surely that must have been the thought.

Someone in scrubs was walking by facing the people beyond me, followed closely by the woman who’d checked my husband in at the far end of the hallway from here at the much-regretted hour of 6:50 a.m.

Who scolded me sharply: “He’s talking to you!”

Blink. (A silent, What? Hello?) I did not so much as see the side of his mouth move and he was in no way looking at me. Nor was he anybody I’d seen earlier. He was paying no attention whatever to me as far as I knew.

At that, the young surgeon rather awkwardly turned, maybe only just then realizing that I was the one who was the wife of his patient, and sat down to let me know (after I asked him several times to speak up–the waiting area was one great big noisy room) that things had gone well.

He had a rash of warts across his forehead that made him look like he was sweating profusely as he leaned forward.

I would be called back there in twenty minutes.

I picked up my phone forty-five minutes later, looked at the time, and shrugged. These things never go quickly.

I looked out the wrap-around windows at all the new construction. I saw that the place I’d done my brain rehab after my car was sandwiched in ’00 was, to my surprise, still standing, even though it’s only two stories high. Stanford likes to go big these days, but there it was, and prettied up, too.

I got halfway through another cashmere cowl and I have no idea who it’s for and really would rather have been making progress on the afghan for the little brother who’s been promising that Maddy will not have to be the baby of the family forever but was comforted at knowing that, whoever this bright little bit of soft scarfiness turns out to be for, I’ll be glad I did it.

I alternated between reading and knitting to keep my hands comfortable. I got sixty-five pages into a book on bird intelligence that I’d been quite looking forward to but that desperately, desperately needed a decent editor. Or at least for the writer to have sat down and read her own work cover to cover at the finish to find out for herself just how much she’d beaten the same, basic, boring, repeating points to death, page after page after page.

It matched the day.

At last an older man wearing a Stanford-red suit coat came from behind the desk to escort me and one other person to our spouses, chatting amiably along the way, quite making up for his co-worker. (He’d seen her.)

Coming into post-op, the first thing I saw was the hospital’s attempt at the usual requirement that the patient put on their non-skid no-falls socks. What you can’t quite see here is they’d even cut them in their efforts to make them somehow get over his big feet.

I decided not to joke about sock episiotomies. Yet.

It felt downright strange to be the one waiting for the valet to bring the car around so I could pick up the patient.

All went well, he is fine, and we are home.

 



The consensus is…
Tuesday May 22nd 2018, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Knit,Politics

The Spartacus bulb opened up, and at 30″ high with a full display of leaves it is rocking this amaryllis thing.

The second cowl from the orange Piuma: done. (Note to self: 84 stitches, US 8 needles this time and it’s not small.)

Did anybody else get the annual Community Survey from the Census Bureau? Three million households randomly get chosen and this was our year.

After making sure I couldn’t get the info online, I called the city’s utilities department and said, I’m sure you’ve gotten a lot of people asking the annual total of their water+sewer and their electric and gas usage for the Census–and they said, Nope! You’re the first one.

I wonder how many people the Bureau chose out of any one town? And how much any answer of mine tilted the results.



Carrot top
Wednesday May 16th 2018, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Knit

Two things.

I finished this generous-sized cowl on size US 8s in Piuma cashmere #22077 from Colourmart (it’s damp in my picture) with 70 grams left of the original 150, plenty to make a smaller one.

And I found and bought this pattern. Angelfish, octopus, sea horse, clownfish, surf rolling in (I’ll vary it rather than repeat it exactly)–this was exactly what I’d been looking for for the afghan, though I’ll probably skip the goofy grins on the critters’ faces. Do I need dirt at the ocean floor? Only if I can find cute enough dirt.

(Maddy’s cape is still definitely in the mental queue but it has no deadline.)

I did a thorough stash-diving amongst my Malabrigo Rios for bits and pieces of bright enough color to match my ten skeins in Cian. Huh. Is that all the Glazed Carrot I have left? Maybe I can manage a clownfish out of that? (The Piuma is not an option. It has to be superwash.)

Maybe with that red as an accent.

Just often enough, hoarding the last of each ball pays off big time.

I need to start another cowl, for a carry-around project if nothing else, but I really want to dive right into that blanket.