Anchorage
Tuesday November 28th 2017, 7:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

We went to the chocolate shop. Twice, actually, for Sam and me, the second time on our way home from the yarn store, where I looked for the softest wool and asked her which color her husband would pick out if he were there.

I took home skeins of something new to me but that I am definitely looking for again: Fourteen (referring to the micron count in the merino), by Juniper Moon Farm.

I did the ribbing that started a hat and then surprised him by saying I had a design question: beanie or cables?

Say what? Double take. I was knitting this for him? We confirmed that cables meant like on his wife’s sweater; “Cables would be nice!”

Alright then!

We played, we giggled, we wore ourselves out.

And we marveled at how gorgeous the landscape is. I remember the unending snow of New Hampshire as being dirty and gray at the roads’ edges as you go by, but everywhere in Anchorage was just enough, not too much yet, of the purest white everywhere, with the towering mountains the most perfect of all. I understood now how one could love this place in winter.

And why a few of the homes here and there are painted in cheerful tropical colors.

They took us to see the edge of the bay and our son-in-law pointed out the textures in what in summer were mud flats; now, though, the tide relentlessly brings in waves of crashing ice under the ice.

There was a stiff wind at the edge there, defining what cold could begin to really mean. We stayed just long enough for Michelle to snap pictures. We were well bundled but my hands were too cold to.



The sweater that taught me to gauge swatch years ago (started it three times)
Wednesday November 22nd 2017, 11:29 am
Filed under: Knit

Bagged me a polar bear, I did…



Home delivery
Wednesday November 22nd 2017, 12:22 am
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

I had to go look up Whistler’s Mother to figure out why this photo reminded me of it. This one’s colorized, of course, a la Ted Turner after he bought those 1920s movies.

And that is 1420 grams of Malabrigo Rios, stuffed back into that ziplock and about to go poof and escape like an octopus



Silliness
Tuesday November 14th 2017, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

I found a project that should have been done several months ago. I just have to pick up stitches along the edge, and…

…leaning way over thataway and checking…

Buttons on the right, right?

He looks at me funny.

I need to add a button band. Buttons on the right?

And hearts on the left!

Me, envisioning that and doing a head tilt: Say what?

He pats his chest with a grin: Heart’s on the left!

OHHHH. Oh Okay. I was picturing you in an oxford shirt with little red hearts all over on just one side and not even on Valentine’s and it just wasn’t… And I definitely wasn’t going to add them to the sweater. It’s the apostrophe I missed. For once in my life I needed to add an apostrophe, not delete it like all those other superfluous ones running around out there indicating possession when the person meant plural, or substituting for the i in is. Heart is on the left. I. See?

Got it.



Glad to have Mecha
Monday November 13th 2017, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Knit

Finished the afghan yarn at hand but its next hank was scoured this morning and not ready yet despite periodic attempts at hairdrying.

I pulled out the hat I’d almost finished on the airplane home.

In the dim light there, trying to get as close to finishing as possible while the number of stitches left on only one circ (the other one had ended up in the overhead bin this time) kept getting smaller and tighter, it turns out I had goofed.

There was nothing for it. You never regret frogging when you know you need to. I did, finished the new top of the thing, got it right, and bam! It is done.



For dyslexics
Sunday November 12th 2017, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I actually made some noticeable progress on the afghan and it felt great. (After a four hour nap–not over this bug yet.)

Meantime, in case you know anyone with dyslexia, or just for sheer curiosity’s sake, I recommend this article. It says that the patterns of cones in the eyes (there’s a good graphic of them here* about halfway down) are supposed to be different between the two eyes so that the brain parses out the images via the differences. But the cones are lined up the same in dyslexics, so that mirrored images (think d and b) appear the same.

Fascinating. And they offer something one could do about it, with a simple flashing light. A little hope with your science.

 

*That would be at  https://askabiologist.asu.edu/rods-and-cones  but their website will not let me link directly to it.



Held it in suspense
Friday November 10th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

This evening, at long last, I picked up the (overdue) wedding afghan project that I did not try to stuff into my suitcase last week and started purling the wrong side row.

While looking forward with each stitch to getting to the end so I could turn it around and remember: what was that pattern again?



I don’t know how to do that yet
Monday October 30th 2017, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knit

Mathias’s pumpkin hat will fit him next year, too, but for now, doubling over the wool on one’s head in Alaska is not a bad thing.

Meantime, some really cool art: it’s not knitting, it’s not crocheting, it’s not what I think of as tatting, it’s not weaving, it’s not macrame…  I would love to see her hands in action. Bobbin lace?

Her website says pillow lace. I’d never heard the term before. But apparently it helped support American Revolutionary War widows.



How now black cowl
Thursday October 26th 2017, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Spinning

So today was only 88F, compared to yesterday’s 94F, which broke a 134-year record, and where the heck is this October thing anyway? But my mango tree is loving the heat.

Meantime, in belief that cool weather will actually come, the cobweb 93/7 merino/vicuna strands that I recently plied on my wheel got knitted up during the airports and flights of this past weekend. One full bobbin’s worth became this thick, soft, warm cowl.

The fabric’s a bit nubbly looking up close (real close) because the merino and the vicuna shrank at different rates when I scoured the yarn.

The look of it very much reminds me of some black tussah silk I plied years ago from a cone or two I’d bought when the legendary Straw Into Gold in Berkeley closed; it had that same nubbliness to it when it was spun and scoured and done and I was never sure why. Unlike the merino, though, the individual silk strands of course did not felt and melt together into a solid nor did it feel rapturous as it ran across my hands for hours at the wheel. It was not slithery shimmery bombyx and I did not love the stuff. I wanted to, but, no.

Mom to the rescue. My mom could see what it could be, and she knitted that yarn into the main color of a very striking ikat-stripe Kaffe Fassett sweater, adding some bright (and yes, bombyx) silks she’d bought at that same sale during a visit here. She is an art dealer’s wife. She looks it when she wears that. It is very, very pretty.

I had not known that that tussah silk, plain in every sense of the word, could become something so glorious. At all. But it could, in the right hands.

Me, I’m going to spin me up some more of this vicuna blend. Even if I only have it in plain black. I want to share the good stuff again.



The more things change, the more we stay the same
Wednesday October 25th 2017, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

That sweet sound of breaking yarn, the second day in a row: alright. They’re done. (Just run in those ends…)

I used to knit during lunchtime (and sometimes in the classroom) in high school. A lot. You’d never have guessed, right? I’m just a lot better at it now than I was then.

The year 40 was coming up and no one had noticed out loud. So Patty said something and Paul chimed in, but somehow it still kept being an SEP: a Somebody Else’s Problem.

They decided they were the somebodies, then, because you just can’t let a number like that go on by–this had to happen. No DJ, no big bash, no overkill, just a simple meet-and-greet and dinner together at a locally famous restaurant with room for a crowd on the lovely grounds in Old Potomac not far from our school.

I would dearly love to go but the invitation came just when I was recovering from the latest head injury. I just didn’t dare risk traveling alone, and my sweetie, bless him, had no particular desire to spend a whole lot of money and time off work during a project-release deadline to go to someone else’s high school reunion where he didn’t know a soul. All it would take is me tripping, falling, and losing some of my speech again in a busy airport, or or or.

So yeah. Not going.

One of our classmates, whose father was a diplomat when we were all growing up near DC, raised his own family back home. In Venezuela.

Patty posted a picture today that showed that he had had the same thought I had had: that even if he couldn’t go, he could send his heart to us all, and that Patty and Paul definitely needed to be thanked. And so his goddaughter showed up today on her doorstep with a beautiful orchid, and Paul got a check covering the cost of the restaurant meal so that someone else could go, whoever that might be.

Me, well, y’know, I do what I do.

The leftover white cashmere/silk is from Mathias’s blanket and the dark Teal Feather hat in Malabrigo Mecha (a little greener than this shows) worked up thick and soft and warm.

I know Patty’s address and I can work the rest out from here. Tomorrow they go out.



Put your thinking caps on
Sunday October 22nd 2017, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Re the pumpkin hats: I ended up crocheting the stems on Parker’s and Hudson’s, simply because it was far simpler than knitting in the round on so few stitches; I left them as tubes rather than closing them off.

So I told the boys their hats had a secret compartment. That got me instant big grins: I was definitely speaking a little boy’s language. I told Parker, who’s in first grade, that he could write a note and fold it up really tiny and fit it in there if he wanted. (And I thought as I did so of the tiny pocket with a tiny note knitted into one of the squares in one of the get-well blankets made for me by a whole bunch of wonderful knitters in ’09. It’s still in there, and is taken out and read every now and then, amidst all that wonderful warmth.)

Maybe I could have/should have written my own note? But I didn’t want to make time capsules to be reverently set aside unused, I wanted them to play with their wooly pumpkinizings and their imaginations and maybe even prompt their own desires to learn how to say what they’re thinking in the most succinct way to fit into the smallest space. One that is bigger on the inside.

To become writers. Like the five generations before them.



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.