An astronautical amount of them
Sunday August 02nd 2020, 9:28 pm
Filed under: History,Knit

Did anyone else watch the SpaceX landing and think those parachutes all looked like jellyfish?

It was time
Saturday August 01st 2020, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

It took me a moment to recognize it.

I think. I think. That was Lorna’s. It’s been so long, and I have visual memory damage.

I have rightly or wrongly always semi-blamed Noni juice for her loss, because it was popular at the time, she took supplements, and the FDA later posted a warning on their website (I have no idea if it’s still there) that it can trigger autoimmune liver disease.

Lorna was in a knitting group of mine and this was about twenty-five years ago. She found out she had autoimmune liver disease right after she found out she had cancer, and the one meant the other could not be treated–one round of chemo nearly did her in right there and there would not be a second one. She couldn’t process it. She was going fast, and she knew it.

I visited her in the hospital, knowing it would be the last time I saw her. She told me she wanted me to have some of her yarn, some good yarn.

I promised her I would make something beautiful out of it and remember her by it.

That meant the world to her, and there a few tears on both sides.

All of us had promised her we would knit at her funeral. She liked that idea.

And we came. It was a lovely old chapel, full of old and well-turned wood and windows reaching to the sky; I can see why she felt at home there.

I leaned over to Nancy before the service began and whispered, “I’ve got my knitting in my purse.” She smiled back in recognition, “I do, too.” Another friend later said hers was in her car but she hadn’t quite been able to make herself bring it in.

We didn’t knit during the funeral itself except in spirit, but we could have, and it was enough.

Lorna had never married, and her mom called Nancy and asked for people to come get her yarn stash and help her clear it out.

For whatever reason, I couldn’t make that one on short notice but the others saved some for me.

Leftover amounts. Scratchy wools. I have no idea what her stash had been like so it was what it was. There was the longest swatch I ever saw, where she’d tried out stitch after stitch, and that was pretty cool but it wasn’t something you could do anything with and there was no more of that handspun anyway.

And there was the front of a cotton sweater. (Photo taken pre-washing.)

I could be wrong, but I remember that as coming from her. It was still in the purple Lisa Souza bag Nancy had given it to me in.

I’m a fair bit smaller than Lorna was and don’t love knitting cotton but it was beautifully done in a gansey pattern.

In a shade of beige I didn’t wear.

I couldn’t rip all that work out and I couldn’t go forward knitting it for nobody and I’d made that promise and it was my one hope, if any. And so it got put away, till it was so away that it was long forgotten.

I came across it today. I remembered that purple bag but I didn’t remember what was in it. I opened it up.

It sank in.

I stopped right there mid-cleaning project, carried it out to the family room, looked at the stitches and yeah, that’d be about a 4mm needle, sat down with it and ripped out those rows of decreasing for the top.

And then with that now-wiggly squiggly loose yarn I cast it off straight across.

And then I worked in the ends, noting that Lorna had ended one skein just above the ribbing right in the middle of the row with a knot at the back and after that she’d changed skeins at the side edges so as not to do that again to it.

And then I ran it through my washer and dryer, where the loosely and unevenly spun cotton shrank into a thicker, tighter fabric. It was marvelous. The gansey purls stood out more and it was so soft. The ribbing still didn’t pull in at the bottom much at all–it’s cotton–and the sides were all pretty much straight.

And then I hung my new smooshy-thick soft oversized dishtowel on the upper oven handle, folded in half. (The amaryllis towels that Holly embroidered for me circulate on the lower oven to help them stay pristine.) This one is going to be a workhorse.

It’s absolutely gorgeous there, and a statement of knitting sisterhood. It’s so inviting: Touch me! Feel this!

I have no idea why I let that cotton or color defeat me for so very long and why I didn’t do this sooner, but I did it, I finally finally did, I made something beautiful from what Lorna gave me even if she’s the one who really did it. It didn’t have to be a sweater, it could be its own thing and now it is.

And I remember her by it.

Just like I’d promised.

And I absolutely love it.

Jump starting that mojo
Tuesday July 28th 2020, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

Three skeins of variations in gray Rios from Imagiknit to augment the two that I had that were just too few and too far apart–and they turned out to be the perfect gradations between. I could not have picked out better ones myself.

Finally, I had my palette for the next step. Because I’m picky that way.

A dolphin has begun.

It’s dogging me
Wednesday July 08th 2020, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Knit

The hats. I told him I could sew the bottoms of the ears down if desired.

Knitted in, the diamonds and triangles are much crisper than sewn on and

wait. I didn’t even see it till typing this

did I really

I did


stupid visual memory brain damage

I sewed those cheeks on wrong.

But I was so happy to get right back to work on the jellyfish on my afghan after two weeks of wanting to that it just flew right past me.


Still with the hat
Tuesday July 07th 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Knit
(I have no idea why the paragraphing on this post is being wonky on the public view. I promise I typed it right. But anyway…)
It dawned on me only after I’d finished all six color sections *and* sewn them together that by picking up the bottom of the hat and knitting the rainbow downwards that as I checked the earlier hat to make sure which color came next–I was actually putting them in in the reverse direction and that part of the logo is backwards.
I knew in my bones I was not ripping all that work out. If I were a person who jogs that would have been a good time to put on my running shoes. I spent about an hour thinking well, I have enough of the main color to do a third hat.
Second Sock Syndrome ain’t got nuthin’ on what I was feeling towards that thought.
And so I avoided it most of the day and let it stew in the corner by itself.
But I did not want to wake up tomorrow still having to face sewing on those seven pieces and finally made myself pick it back up.
What was a far bigger thing than I expected was how good it felt to run in and cut off every loose end from that rainbow. The hat was no longer a jellyfish with dangling tentacles. And, as the face gradually appeared from all those little fiddly bits, wait–that thing is actually cute!
I’ve run out of day and it still needs the ears sewn on. But I can handle that.
One thing I learned today is that when you knit the pieces separately and sew them on, there’s a 3D aspect to it that will instantly appeal to any child who will ever see it and the child in any grownup. Definitely beats the flatness as well as the difficulty of doing intarsia in the round. Keeping it simple makes it look like it isn’t.

A little assembly required
Thursday July 02nd 2020, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

So, so, so much faster and easier, even if I have all that sewing-on to do. It did take me a few tries to figure out how to make the diamond shape with knitting into fronts and backs of stitches while not distorting the edges. Note to self: cast on two, not one to start, and then do a make one in between on that first purl row. You want to be working with an odd number so you can double decrease into a point at the top.

Right now everything’s curled up because it’s stockinette stitch on the loose.

I felt so virtuous getting this far along that I totally didn’t do the rainbow part yet–but Debby’s idea is definitely the way to go, and thank you, Debby!

The thing I keep thinking is that I’ve wanted to make character hats for the grandkids for a long time, and now I know how to do what I want to do for probably just about any design and it’s incredibly freeing. Sterling did me a huge favor with his request, and I sent him this picture with a thank you.

Wednesday July 01st 2020, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Knit

This is totally a factory reject. I’m embarrassed to even show it. The only reason I didn’t frog it three inches in is that I’d spent four+ hours on the darn rainbow, with the backwards intarsia and four needle ends flopping around.

It actually looks semi-okay on the other side. Why I managed not to make that the right side, I…have no explanation. Maybe I thought we’d flip the brim up. But babies hate hat brims flopping down over their eyes when they don’t yet know how to get them off and to stay off, and I do not aspire to make babies cry.

But what fascinates me is how putting the ears down like the picture I’m working from vs putting them upwards like a bow feels like it totally changes the gender of the silly puppy somehow.

The guy mentioned this was supposedly a cat.

With a boxer face?

That extra stitch of white to each side above the nose was me saying no you silly it’s a dog—but by that point I already knew this was not going to be the one so I might as well do what I want.

So. I got to this point last night, put it down in front of me, and considered.

I have more than one row of brown between the tongue and the which-side-is-the-right-side-this-time color change weirdnesses. I could cut the bottom of the brown, carefully undo the next row up while easing the stitches onto my needles, and re-knit going downwards, with the half-stitch jog sideways that would give it.

Not sure why I don’t want to do that, but I don’t want to do that.

So I spent a long time just looking at it and thinking what my options were.

I could i-cord racing stripes to cover those hideous joins. Which totally doesn’t work for the intended purpose of the hat of logo-matching for the mama.

Which is why today I picked that brown yarn up again and have half the upper section (it should have been the whole thing) knitted again. I will knit the face parts separately and sew them on, and if there’s anything I find I don’t like, changing it will be almost nothing to do when you do it that way.

I will make the features smaller this time.

I will pick up the bottom stitches, one color section at a time, and slant-knit downwards.

I think I’m showing you these pictures so you’ll understand what a screaming relief it will be when I produce a decent version–and as a reminder that even good knitters can make truly awful things when they’re first figuring out how to do something new. Intarsia in the round is usually a no, just, no.

But now I can see how to make some really fun hats for my grandkids, so I definitely got something out of this.

I may make great big floppy Ludo-the-Saint-Bernard grandpuppy ears and give the new hat the old ears. Maybe I’ll even make that i-cord.

Or maybe at that point, just for a little while, I’ll throw that thing in a corner with energy, pick up my sea creatures afghan, and thank it for being an easy project. Which it is not. But as intarsia knitted flat, it is now.

Wheelchairs for cars
Wednesday June 24th 2020, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

After they towed the car away they sent the email that said that there’s a 2-4 week national backorder on catalytic converters, one assumes because so many are being stolen.

And then I saw the other email. Had it been from anyone else I would have laughed and looked for the gentlest way to say no. But it wasn’t just anyone else.

Did I do commissions? A co-worker was having a baby and he thought it would be so freaking cute to be able to give the baby a hat that matched the logo of the project they were working on.

I won’t post that logo here but picture a circular, slanted rainbow with an animal’s face in the center.

A cat, he said.

A dog: a boxer on a summer day, I said. Those cheeks. That tongue hanging out.

A teddy bear, Richard glanced over and said.

A freaking pain in the neck, my needles said. The guy had no way to know.

I didn’t answer. I simply held yarn after yarn up to the computer and then compared amongst them to try to come up with the best combination. At this point there’s a lot of leftovers from that afghan project, and though worsted weight is not my first pick for baby clothes it’s what I had that had those colors and was machine-washable, soft wool. Soft enough for a baby.

Intarsia in the round. You knit right to left. The colors change left to right. Get to the end of the first row and the yarn at the color change is now on the other side away from you, so you wrap one (thank you Nancy Weber for teaching me how to knit socks years ago!) so it doesn’t make a hole and you go back to where you came from on two circular needles inside a Venn diagram because the hat’s too small to use just one. So there’s that variable, too.

When UPS knocked on the door when I was at a row and needle change it took me a moment afterward to figure which juncture, which direction, and which yarn.

You change colors in the back so it doesn’t show. Except there is no back during the knitting that way. It shows. And it shows worst and is the most messed up at the start of the rows at the orange/yellow, exactly where the mutt’s face is supposed to be centered–no hiding it at the back of the wearer’s head.

I was planning on stockinette and the gauge thereof. I had garter instead–which made it too big, but if you use that as a folded-up brim to hide half the animal it will…make a great peek-a-boo toy. After the baby gets old enough not to cry when it falls down and covers its eyes and it doesn’t want it to and it can’t yet do anything about it.

Let me get the rest done before making pronouncements.

The upper part gets to be stockinette because having just done four hours of this mess and not loving the result I was getting antsy. It was time to start the face.

I picked up a sewing needle and ran the new contrasting colors back to the starts of their sequences, ready to knit again, no turning. So there. There will be no give to the hat there but something had to give for me.

So many ways it’s not up to my standards. And yet, and yet, the silly thing is growing on me.

Note to self: next time knit a slanted panel, knit another picking up the side of the first as you come along, then another, till at the last you pick up from both sides and close the circle.

I finally answered his email after I got this far along with it: I said, no, I don’t take commissions.

But actually, I was going to surprise you with a doorbell ditch but I’m not there yet and I didn’t want to leave you disappointed all night, wondering. It’s far from perfect. But it’s coming.

Sunny side up
Tuesday June 16th 2020, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Knit

Another moment of that’s so obvious but I hadn’t even thought of it: of course there has to be one!

Do you know how much fun jellyfish are to knit? It’s like you almost can’t make a mistake and you certainly don’t have to worry about it. Hula dancing in the water.

And although it’s not what I’m making, did you know that there’s one called Fried Egg Jellyfish because–well, just look at that thing. And yeah, that’s real.

For the top but I think not yet
Monday June 15th 2020, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Knit

I’m just going to post this right here to remind myself that even though I can’t draw, sometimes, just sometimes, I do okay enough on the third try that you can actually tell what it is.

No I don’t mean maybe pregnant. Never mind.

And now I have to figure out a jellyfish for the other side, because I think the turtle needs one.

Surfrise! (Wait. I should save that for when I actually get there.)
Thursday June 11th 2020, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Knit

I forgot to start in on time on the jointed back half of the first back leg and will have to either skip it for both or duplicate-stitch that part in over the blue on the first one later.

Maybe I should give the turtle a side view to match the fish. Yeah probably. I’d love to hear your ideas. 

It’s small, even if it looked big sketched on the page. So if I do make rolling waves at the top, should this be a baby sea turtle coming away from the beach? Meaning, do I change which direction I’d envisioned the tide and rolling waves coming in to? Two years of envisioning this makes that feel so, so, backwards, which I know is completely silly. I’ve been teasing myself about still being an East Coast girl at heart: the sun is supposed to *rise* at the shore. The turtle called it.

And for later: do dolphins leap near the surf or only further out? In the direction of, crossing the direction of, what do they seek out and what do they avoid re the waves breaking and yes I’m totally overthinking it to the point of silliness. Again.

Can’t wait till I can show you the one after this
Wednesday June 10th 2020, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Knit

Slow going, but slowly getting there.

Why I resorted to the Kaffe Fassett method of color work: no bobbins, no tangles of balls, just a strand as long as you think you can handle, weave in the ends and do another when you need to. So much easier to just grab one at a time and pull it clear of the mess.

At loggerheads with it
Friday June 05th 2020, 9:06 pm
Filed under: Knit

I bought a sea tortoise pattern–actually a loggerhead turtle, I think, though not labeled as such–on Ravelry the other day.

Except it’s upright and I wanted mine sideways, and since knitting stitches aren’t squares on charts but rectangles I couldn’t just tilt it; I had to use their picture to try my own sketches on knitting graph paper, but at least it gave me something to work from. Also, I’m trying to shrink it down by about a third, so, following their zig zag lines but adapting where they should go.

Why did that first try bother me so bad.

It suddenly hit me.

It looked like a tick.

Sing it with me: You put the Lyme in the coconut and knit it all up you put the Lyme in the coconut (husk color).  (Who knew the Muppets did that one?!)

…Let’s fix the head on that thing, shall we? Enough of the tick talk.

Meantime, I just have to point out this crocheted aquarium I just stumbled across. Wow. Just, wow.

Did get some knitting in after all
Thursday June 04th 2020, 11:06 pm
Filed under: History,Knit

The city lifted what was going to be an eleven day curfew after two because the protesters have been relentlessly peaceful.

That let’s call it an anthias fish up at the top there that should have started an inch later but it wanted to be where it is and I let it boss me around like that.

Lockdown day 67: one fish two fish red fish time for blue fish
Friday May 22nd 2020, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Knit

I found the perfect shade of bright royal blue in my stash, exactly what I’d been looking for, and oh good it was labeled worsted weight superwash. Neighborhood Fiber Co. Nice stuff from nice people. My grandson Mathias has a baby blanket made out of that.

But I just could not make myself start that next fish with it. It was both thicker and more densely spun than what I was working with and the difference was just too much.

But the color!

I spent the day again wishing for it to be back to when you could simply drive to the yarn store to ogle the options in person.

But I did not want to waste a pandemic day, because this is what those are good for, how I make myself feel good about the isolation: getting that project finished after its two year wait.

And yet I didn’t have what I didn’t have.

Finally, it became, oh forget it, just go with the Malabrigo that isn’t the best possible dreamed-of color but it is what there is and I knew how it would perform with its peers in the wash and that counted for a lot, too.

Kalida’s Washington Square wool will get its turn in its own project–speaking of which, two circular needles arrived from her today for Venn-diagram-knitting the next hats at a denser gauge. Needles, meet yarn. From Ball’more, Maryland.

And then, at long last, I just did it. I grabbed a Rios color that would be just fine after all and simply started that silly fish. As soon as I did I loved it, with a strong sense of relief at the perfectionist logjam having finally burst. Who knew. It was right there all along.

Meantime, the English Morello tart cherries are starting to grow hints of red here and there, and I will definitely wait for that color.