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.



With multiple strands for extra warmth
Tuesday May 15th 2018, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

It took a random mention on a four-year-old Ravelry thread and then some searching, trying to track down where that picture had come from when there was no information with it, just a hey, isn’t this idea cool.

I saved the photo. It had a long .jpg number. I googled that.

Which of course took me right back to Ravelry.

This pattern. In those blues and white, like a fine Delft china plate. Wow. This is why I have a granddaughter–right? (In San Diego, sure, but hey, she has a cousin in Alaska. Right?)

Right. Right after I do that afghan, and all the cowls that are left to do, and and and.

Maybe I’ll knit the patterns into the baby’s blanket instead?

Like the littlest fingers wouldn’t yank and catch on those strands. He’ll be a newborn, not a responsible older brother. Okay, back to the cape idea then, three and a half is old enough to listen to you telling her why not to and then not to.

Right?

Yeah, yeah, I know. But some part of my knitting brain is suddenly fiercely wanting to do some fair isle work. I think it was those blues that grabbed me first.

Speaking of cool things found, there was also a mention of the floral bouquets, here. (Scroll down a bit.) Wiltproof.



This could be addictive
Saturday May 05th 2018, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Yarn stuff ahead.

A little knitting at last, and man did it feel good to get back to it. The super-soft Piuma tubular-spun cashmere from Colourmart in 21105, their lightest beige, started on the plane ride home and finally finished. It’s not yet dry so the picture is darker than it will be in real life.

The cone was a bit of a splurge but I got two cowls out of the 150 grams with 48 to go. They were not huge cowls and would be best on someone of average or small build. Basically, I just had no idea how much the lace would grow on blocking, and winged it. (It didn’t grow.) I used US 7 needles but even with my loose knitting could easily have gone larger. I did hank and pre-scour to try to pre-shrink the yarn and let it bloom, and wow did it bloom: from worsted and solid-looking to wide and soft and quite airy.

Colourmart lets you put these in your basket for 14 days–half the usual time, due to the demand–where no one can touch them while you wait for a small sample to see if you really like that one, or while you make up your mind or try to finish whatever project you have on the needles first. So if you want to sneak a peek at what colors they actually still have around that aren’t showing on that first link, that you could hopefully snatch up as soon as someone else’s cart expires, go here for the Piuma. (I have no idea how to do that on their other yarns other than to ask them, I only know that one because they posted the link on Ravelry.)

They’re a mill-ends place and it’s been eight years since they got that many colors of that yarn. I saw their email saying they had new stock three hours after they’d sent it and the teal (and some of the other colors) were already long gone for good. People had been hoping for more for a long time. I bought the beige to finally try out the famous yarn and to see how cost-effective vs other yarns it could be (or not), and after seeing how things were coming out I too wanted more. More came.

After someone else’s cart expired. If yours does you have to wait a week before being allowed to cart it again. It’s only fair.

For whatever it’s worth, with this yarn there’s only a single ply sort of braided around on itself: it doesn’t have multiple twisted plies in the traditional sense. In the tradeoff between the friction that twisting creates, which takes away softness but adds strength, and wanting to preserve what that cashmere can feel like, they went for preservation of the softness. Cowls and scarves and hats are perfect for it. Cablework, maybe not so much–too much stretching and pulling, I would think, and I wouldn’t dare use it for a baby blanket, much though I wish.

A cowl will do quite nicely. My daughter Sam got the first one. I hope to find out tomorrow who gets the second. There will be more after that.



That crazy hat lady
Saturday April 28th 2018, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knit

If you put a handknit hat on Mathias’s head he will grab it, pull it hard sideways, and fling it with great force when it finally gives up and comes off.

If you put it not quite on but flat on top of his head and convince him it’s a new version of peekaboo, trying to get him to accept the idea of wearing something up there for even a moment (kid. You live in Alaska) he will giggle like crazy and only take it off and hold it in his lap waiting with a big grin for another round of the game.



But Not the Hippopotumas
Friday April 27th 2018, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Knit

Mathias picked up a Sandra Boynton board book and toddled awkwardly towards their big dog and plunked down with a thunk.

“She can’t read it to you,” his mommy laughed.

So he read it to the dog.  Even if he didn’t quite succeed at getting that thing open on the first few tries: he knew the words by heart. “Ah BAH. AH BAH. Ah bah bah  bah!”



Their number one son
Thursday April 26th 2018, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Knit

Babies live life on speed dial: somehow Mathias turned one today.



How it came out
Sunday April 22nd 2018, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The story of the cowl.

I bought the yarn with a particular person in mind, knowing her favorite color, but as soon as I got going with it I knew the shade was off and it just wasn’t going to be it. And yet that yarn had practically thrown itself at me in the store just the same. What was I thinking?

Nothing for it but to keep on knitting till it’s done–there’s always a place for one of these, and if I hurry I can get it off the needles faster and get on to what I’d hoped for.

Done and blocked, it quietly made a case for itself: it was pretty. I’d almost missed that.

So this morning as I ran the ends in I found myself saying a little prayer: please, could You make it obvious whom to give this to? Like, really obvious so I don’t second-guess myself and wonder? Not that I’m in any way owed that, but I’d love to have the gratification of knowing it was worth it given that I kind of struggled not to be annoyed at it for making me wait for what I’d wanted to do.

Sitting in Sunday School, I spotted two new people across the room, one of whom had a face that was familiar to me from other contexts but I don’t know her; she was wearing a dress that matched that cowl. There was this little spark of happiness that exclaimed, Yes!

But she was deep in conversation with the other woman and in no way was I going to give offense by excluding her, so my attention moved on.

Sunday School ended, the Relief Society women’s meeting was about to begin–and that acquaintance stood, walked across the room, and sat down by me to talk to the next woman over for a minute.

Wow. That sure worked.

When their conversation was over, I asked her, “Are you allergic to wool?”

That was NOT a question she was expecting. “No–?”

“Is this a good color?”

She loved it. She was thrilled. Yes, and it matched her dress!

We asked each other our names. When I said mine, she did a double take and went, “Are you Michelle’s mom?!”

“Yes!”

She proceeded to tell me about things she’d done with my daughter, reminiscing fondly over her baking skills, telling me how much she and her friends had missed her and how they hoped she would move back.

Who doesn’t need to hear something like that about themselves? (I passed the good word on to her.) What mother doesn’t love hearing how much her child is loved?

Who knew how much that simple bit of knitting would come back to bless–us, too?

I really like Michelle’s friend. And she’s a knitter. What a way to start off knowing somebody!



While the hawk flew by
Thursday April 19th 2018, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Done and drying: I do like that Anniversario colorway.

As the English Morello tree holds up a sign to the honeybee highway: Will Bloom For Cherries.

 



Gracie Larsen
Friday April 13th 2018, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

So. Many. Spammers. And you never say the word “yes” to them. “Can you hear me now?” they’ll try to prompt, because then they have your voice with that word and can splice it to whatever they want to claim you agreed to.

So the person on the other end got my quite formal voice when she rang. “May I help you?”

After a few sentences, she got it, and went, “Ah–you don’t recognize my voice.”

And in that instant I’m quite sure I finally did. The friend (of about my age) of Gracie Larsen’s. Her friend who was invited along with me to dinner chez Nancy when my husband was out of town. The woman who flew into town annually to help out at the Guild booth at Stitches and to see Gracie all these years. She was a member of the Lacy Knitters Guild that Gracie founded along with the Lace Museum in Sunnyvale.

For years, Gracie and I were in a knitting group that met at Nancy’s house; after Nancy moved away, I at least still got to see her and that friend manning their Stitches booth that volunteered to teach lace knitting to anyone who wanted to learn.

One year there Gracie asked me, sounding just like my grandmother: “Now, Alison: how old are you?”

I knew not to say ‘The answer to life, the universe, and everything’ for fear she wouldn’t get the Douglas Adams reference and simply said, 42.

“You’re just a BABY!” she exclaimed, guffawing in delight. She was 80.

And then there was the time when she asked me how my book was coming along.

“It’s not.”

“Well that’s no good! Why not?”

I told her I’d used some of the lace patterns in Barbara Walker’s stitch treasuries, was not going to plagiarize, and had no idea how to reach Ms. Walker nor even if she was still alive to ask. My mom had had the original editions of those treasuries when I was a teenager.

“My friend Barbara!” Here-and she gave me the contact information for her, for Meg Swanson (who had re-issued those treasuries), and a third person in the knitting publishing industry.

Which meant… I had to call or email them, as she provided.

Meg Swansen, the late Elizabeth Zimmerman’s daughter, was gracious beyond measure and sent me over to the good folks at Martingale with an editor’s name and number she thought I should talk to.

Ms Walker commended me on my work and asked only that I give her credit. I did. We swapped hurricane stories; turns out my son was living near her that year.

Richard came home from work that day and I was still starstruck nearly speechless. The idea of just picking up the phone and calling–that was like, oh, sure, the White House will put you straight through to President (W.) Bush, no problem!

So my dormant manuscript finally ended up where it needed to go. Turns out there was a staff meeting so many times a year and no more, so there would be a wait. But after that meeting, my phone rang. The person told me who she was.

(And? And?!?) It felt like an unbearably long silence while she tried to think of the right way to say it, or at least it felt very long to me so finally I asked, in great trepidation, sure they were searching for a nice way to turn me down, “Do you like my book?”

That freed her words: “We LOVE your book!!!”

Gracie, you have no idea how much I owe you…

But I tried to tell her. I sought her out at Stitches every year and I thanked her for making my book come to be. Gracie would brag on me for writing it and I would brag on her for getting it to happen.

I’ll think of her name probably some time in the middle of the night, but, that voice was of the woman who’d come to dinner with me at Nancy’s. As Gracie’s age gradually got the better of her, she was the one looking after her all day at Stitches, making sure she got what she needed, making sure she was okay getting to where she needed. This past February, she stopped me at some random point in the aisles and said Gracie was looking for me.

I was looking for her! Where was she? Where was the booth this year? (While thinking, Oh good. Oh good. She’s still with us.)

And so I got my Gracie time, with her holding my hands and looking me in the eyes with a lifetime of love for everyone around her, and in those moments, me.

Her friend wanted to make sure I heard.

I did the math from 42 half in my head half out loud while she did the same and she confirmed, Yes. She was 97.

If you happen to own this book, that’s our Gracie it’s dedicated to.

Her life was well lived, and I–we will all–miss her.



Building its house
Thursday April 12th 2018, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I was hoping to be able to show this off finished, but I’ve simply run out of day. This is about 150 yards into two 98-yard skeins of Chateau on size US 9s. The long-tail end is being used to mark the end of the rows. (I pull it out and move it up every now and then.)



In happy anticipation
Wednesday March 14th 2018, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Lupus

I had a skein of Malabrigo Mecha (130 yards) on short US 7 circs with the ribbing all done and a row or two of stockinette above: all set for the next time I needed to throw a brainless project in my purse.

I grabbed it on my way out the door to a lupus group meeting just in case.

It was perfect: my hands could go round and round and round the hat almost without looking at all while keeping me fully focused on whoever was speaking, and two hours later as we closed up I was to where I needed to measure and start the decreases at the top. Cool.

But rather than finishing it once I got home, I picked up some Rios (210 yards), another pair of 7s, and started doodling. Never made a pattern like that before. Never saw it from anyone else, either, and I kept knitting until nearly the end of the ball to see what it wanted to be when it grew up, knowing I have to do this again and I have to write this down and I have to put this out there–I really like it.

Looking up in surprise at the hour, it is time to call it a night. I will leave the cast on for the morning.

Most of a hat and a cowl-minus-one-row for one day. Clear’em on out so I can get to the butter yellow tomorrow.

If you keep on knitting the knitting gets done. Why does this always surprise me?



Anne B
Friday March 09th 2018, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knit

Now that was a fun evening!

Back in ’09 when I was ill enough that my survival was no sure thing, Anne decided to make me a get-well afghan and asked if anyone wanted to contribute squares to it. She got so many squares offered up that she pieced them together into two of them.

I love them, I love every person for being part of that, and her for the whole thing. She’d never even met me.

Turns out Anne had a business trip that was bringing her to California, and she asked on FB if anyone knew anything she should see while she was in–my town. I answered, Yes! ME!

I had wanted to meet her for so long. So long.

We made tentative plans, business trips being what they are, and then this afternoon some time opened up for later on if I didn’t mind potential work interruptions as we visited. No problem. I have knitting. I would pick up Richard, drop him off at home, and we could have the evening to ourselves.

Except that he got stuck at work till close to the time we were supposed to meet and she said hey, bring him along too, then.

Two afghans. There was nothing I could knit that could match that. I looked through some of her pictures to get a sense of what colors she might like and chose a circular scarf and a thick warm Malabrigo Mecha hat, thinking, what Canadian knitter doesn’t already have a closetful of hats? And yet it felt important, so I put it in my purse with the other and when dinner was over I showed her the ziploc and asked her her choice of colors without saying what the two things were. Color is everything.

She was quite delighted that what she picked out was a hat: she had had one ready to go for the trip and had accidentally left it home. She was going to need one and now she had one!

The place we’d stopped at mostly caters to the lunch crowd, and Richard asked them to kick us out any time they wanted to close down. When he asked again after we’d finished eating, they apologetically went, yeah…

So we adjourned to Timothy Adams. Hot chocolate and truffles to top off the evening with more time to chat, Adams himself welcoming us at the door.

I can’t tell you how good it feels that we finally got to meet and that I finally got to thank her in person. Here’s hoping life brings her back this way again soon. Anne is just the best.



One 150 and two 200 yard dashes
Friday March 02nd 2018, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Knit

One week. One skein from stash, two from Stitches last weekend. Done.

(Back of the cowl I just finished pictured because it better shows the changes in how the colors relate to each other after the stitch count change. Same colors, same length of repeat within the ball of yarn, totally different outcome.)



Thththththat’s all, folks!
Wednesday February 28th 2018, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Hey, Dad, one of your amaryllises is blooming. Thank you!

And on the cowl: I wanted to use up every inch of that beaded yarn, to put all of that good woman’s work to use.

I found myself wanting a bigger motif at the bottom. Given that the beads will go in through a loop but they do not want to come back out of them again and if you do, the antsy little strand they’re on catches along with the bead and starts tangling, one really can make no mistakes with this stuff. Pushing on the yardage when there was absolutely no more and no backtracking was dicey. But I wanted to so I did.

I should add, after I weighed a few times as I went along and prayed a little bit to stay on the safe side.

And I got it! Casting off right after a yarnover row is fine when you have to. But I finished that bigger motif and I really like how this cowl came out.

Five beads left. I don’t think that vendor would mind.



Stumped the math guy with my knitting
Sunday February 25th 2018, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Wait. How does that make sense. Who could I ask.

Oh of course! I knew it the moment I saw him: the high school math teacher!

Hey! So I have this pattern, so many knits, so many purls, and then move them sideways–so suddenly it’s knit five here, but that’s okay because the purl stitch will come up at the rear later. Right?

Riiight…?

So then how come the line going straight up here is this many and in that section is that many when it should all be the same? I got the stitch count right.

Let me look at that. He counted stitches as if he’d been knitting all his life. You’re right–that’s–huh. He was stumped. He wondered if it made a difference if you started with knits vs purls, and assured me, But I don’t think it shows…

It doesn’t, or not really; it looks like a half a stitch’s extra width here, and it makes no sense. But you’re right, I don’t think it shows.

I told him that when you’re knitting in the round there’s always this half-stitch jog upwards where the row had begun and that some knitters knit half of the stitch below to try to straighten out that line.

He was intrigued: I can’t wait to go home and look at my socks!