At Santa Clara Convention Center
Monday February 18th 2019, 11:50 pm
Filed under: LYS

Stitches West is this weekend. If you’re traveling to get there, check the weather, you might want to bundle up–it was 29F this morning and the kitchen tap is at a slow drip to ward off tonight’s 31F and dropping.

The Beaded Yarns lady does not seem to be on the vendor list this time even though I’ve been hoping all year to see her again. Still hoping.

Silly chair isn’t charging…



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!



Malabrigo to the rescue
Saturday January 12th 2019, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

Today we picked our daughter up on the way and discovered for ourselves why she loves Dandelion Chocolates in San Francisco so much. Wonderful, wonderful place: happy people, great pastries, and you can watch the chocolate coming to be, right there, while they offer you samples. Yum.

More on that later.

And then because my husband and daughter really love me they humored me in letting me spend a few minutes at Imagiknit nearby.

Before we left for the City, having read the weather reports, I grabbed a Malabrigo hat that matched my outfit just in case. The coldest winter Mark Twain supposedly spent was a summer in San Francisco, but the winters right by the ocean can be pretty brisk, too.

It came home again and got put back away unworn with the feeling that that just wasn’t quite it yet–but, something…

This evening we were heading out again and I found myself going back to that ziplock of recently-knit Malabrigo Mecha hats that were still here. I looked at the two teal ones and went no… They’re close, but not the one from this morning; this one instead. And stuck it in my purse.

We went to our Saturday evening stake conference (ie a semi-annual multi-ward meeting) and offered a ride home to a friend whose car had broken down.

We needed a few things on the way and so did Karen so that was easy; we stopped by Safeway.

She got a little ahead of me–there’s always something to be distracted by in a grocery store–and she stepped into a line behind a couple Richard and I recognized but don’t really know. She did, though. They had been at that meeting, too, and the wife turned to us and said she’d shivered through that whole thing and was still cold and wondered if we were as well? She was clearly seriously uncomfortable.

I was already silently noting how the hat in my purse matched her outfit.

How often do you get a chance to actually rescue someone from being cold in California? I told her happy birthday as I handed it to Karen to hand to her.

She tried to turn it down but when she saw I really and freely meant it she let me give it to her, gobsmacked and thrilled. It went right on her head and it was going to stay there. Her husband exclaimed over what a beautiful color it was.

Who else could it possibly have been for?

Besides, Karen (who had such a big grin on her face while being happy for her friend) already has hers.



The AQI is supposed to be worse tomorrow
Thursday November 15th 2018, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

Malabrigo Mecha is my favorite for making a quick, warm, densely knit, beautiful hat out of, and my two brothers and the two local daughters of one of those brothers each ended up with one last weekend.

Which (thinking of the relatives we got to see while we were at the reunion) was just the start. But I was out of that yarn again other than a bag of ten dedicated to becoming an afghan.

There is only one local store that sells it and hey, twist my arm, so I headed out today towards Cottage Yarns.

North or south, whichever way you looked getting onto the freeway the instinct for self-preservation did not want to go there: if there’s that much smoke there could be a fire just beyond, and since the wind can pick up embers and toss them twenty miles down the road (but we’re two hundred from Paradise) maybe I should have checked the latest report first?

Stop it, I told the stupid little fear. Just go. You know it’s okay.

All the cars looked like a variant of spring fever: coated in fire pollen.

The air quality index in South San Francisco was even worse than ours at 211; we were at 179. I was told later that San Jose was nine times worse than Beijing today.

The door to the shop was open only just enough to let people know they could come in.

I talked to Kathryn a moment, being in no hurry to go back out into that, and she told me they’d had a sale last weekend and she’d figured it would be a bust because who would want to come out into the smoke.

What had happened instead is that people had shown up, lots of people: since officially nobody’s supposed to be outside they were buying yarn to have something new and happy to do inside and to create something good in the face of the firestorm, so much so that it turned out to be her best sale event ever. People came together before spending their time separated, and it was clear it meant a lot to her.

I headed home the longer way, through the hills rather than the heavier traffic of the valley floor.

There’s that stretched-out bridge with the reservoir below and the Flintstone House off to the left. The vivid orange beamed like a lighthouse against the smokey storm but to the right, you could not tell that there was water below. At 1:45 pm. It was that bad.

One of my nieces had requested an undyed white hat. If I get it done fast enough it’ll still be that color when she gets it. I think I’ll stay home tomorrow and knit.



Two for one
Friday November 02nd 2018, 10:27 pm
Filed under: LYS

Needed to be at the audiologist’s by 4:00 and didn’t want to go through all that rush hour traffic.

So I left a little after two. Green Planet yarns just happens to be down that way, and it was Friday afternoon knitting group. That definitely worked out.



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.



Begin: the rest is easy
Thursday May 17th 2018, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS,Wildlife

My first success at trying to photograph it.

The new Cooper’s hawk hasn’t yet been harassed by the ravens–and so, for apparently the third time this week, he took his dove dinner to the middle of the yard, out in the open. (Pardon the broomstick.)

Just like Coopernicus did when he was young.

Meantime, I went off to Cottage Yarns to try to find me some seaweed colors, and I did find some dark green but I’m not quite convinced it won’t turn into cowls instead. It’s hard to match the brightness of that Cian colorway.

Here’s what I’ve got so far: I cast on the entire width of the afghan, figuring I would put most of the stitches on hold and work one strip upwards at a time. Right now though I’m not so sure I won’t just simply do it all of a piece.

It took till today to figure out what bugged me about the original pattern: it’s four squares wide. The eye is unsettled at low even numbers–it wants odd ones. It’s got to be five. My swatch said I needed five anyway.

I’ve got ten stitches for each side, eleven rows, and I’m calling that bottom border done.

I want a reclining octopus taking up enough of one side to help divide the interior into the visual thirds that it should be. The seaweed needs to extend well into a second row’s worth to help with its third.

I got me some finagling to do.



Go. Do this right now.
Wednesday April 18th 2018, 6:15 pm
Filed under: History,LYS

Did you use Turbo Tax? Go check right now to see if you got confirmation that your returns have been received by the state and feds. You have till midnight tonight.

I had a particular yarn errand in mind and found myself heading to Cottage Yarns today (So. Much. Malabrigo there!), where Kathryn’s husband and daughter were minding the shop. As they were winding my wool I found myself mentioning to him the phone call that had dragged on and on and on and had had us falling into bed at long last at 1 a.m.

He was suddenly very concerned. We compared notes. Had he gotten any confirmation of having filed? He didn’t think so. I told him we had only gotten confirmation from Turbo Tax that I’d paid the $25 to have the state return e-filed.

Yeah, I got that, he said. But he was suddenly pretty sure that that’s all he’d gotten, too.

I told him that it had bugged me till I’d finally decided I had to find out. The tech person we finally got connected to was overwhelmed, tired, and was chasing down every idea she could think of.

I saved him from the endless circular screens followed by nearly two hours on the phone that we’d had to go through to make sure we were doing the right thing. And it is this: check every email address and text message. Did you get those confirmations from the state and feds? No? Go submit those returns again. Right now. A known computer glitch somewhere between Turbo Tax and the IRS is why the deadline was extended to tonight, and clearly we tripped over it.

I have to admit it was highly gratifying to find that I was not the only one. I’d been told by them that I must just have missed clicking that submit button, when I knew I hadn’t. I’d seen that page before that congratulated me for being done.

He knew he’d done his right, too.

We got our confirmations today. But there is still no sign that we ever did it the first time.

I am so very glad that today I felt that it was imperative that I buy that particular shade of red Russ said his wife loves that I didn’t have in my stash–and that I felt I had to go to buy it from them.

Many happy returns of the day to all.



Plus one
Friday March 16th 2018, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS

Cowl: damp. Hat: not so much, not yet.

I’m going to have to finish this game of yarn chicken in the morning. If I do run out–I don’t think I will, but if I do, then I could make the top of the hat a solid white and run diagonal lines of white weaving down through all the yarnovers. Or rainbow colors. Or something.

(Having typed that, I got up to weigh the remaining yarn: 16 grams.) Yeah, it’ll be close. What would you do with a shortage at the top? Note that there is, or at least was, one last skein of that dye lot at Cottage Yarns this week. (Hey, Kathryn’s website’s back up!)



This is yellow journalism
Tuesday March 13th 2018, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,LYS

(Phone back on strike, no photos yet, sorry.)

An expectant mom, so you know superwash merino is the only way to go. Not allergic to wool. Her favorite color? Yellow, she laughed, looking down at her butter-colored dress.

Let’s see, do I have… Hmm, no I don’t…

Coral, I love coral, too, she quickly added, trying to broaden my options.

You know what this means. I had an excuse, no, a need to go to the yarn store–when it comes to yellow anything I don’t even have the dye for that.

The rain mostly let up and I headed out to Cottage Yarns today, where the inventory is quite a bit bigger than the more local stores. Kathryn and I started to go through the aisles together: this peach? she offered. It was on the gray side.

I couldn’t see it. But there, that butter yellow is just the shade: is it machine washable? (It was a brand I wasn’t overly familiar with.)

Yes, and it’s very soft.

(Checking the label.) Extrafine merino. I was very pleased. And then when I actually touched it I knew that this was a yarn that could do no wrong.

I brought it home, ready to go–and cast on the Malabrigo Anniversario for the other person I’d asked Sunday, whose color preference was, with a laugh, “Everything!” Which that kind of is.

I think after making a lot of other people’s favorites last week I needed to tackle colors I loved for a bit to help keep the batteries charged.

And then the soft-as-butter. Its turn is coming right up.



Didn’t seize the 4s for the freeze
Friday January 19th 2018, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS

Five skeins (four of those, and one 80/20 baby alpaca/bamboo) bought at Green Planet on Tuesday.

I have small remnants of the first four and one repeat’s worth left on that fifth, and I really want to finish this cowl but my hands need to stop. It’s the chunky baby alpaca blend, super soft, and I thought I was just going to get it started so as to have a small carry-around project for tomorrow. It kept insisting, You need to knit me right now! and the next thing you know I had nearly run out of yarn.

A hat and almost a cowl (I might yet. After the icepacks. Maybe) in one day. For me that’s a record.

But the camera on the phone is in no-go-mode so I can’t show off. Maybe I should confess that the thing landed out of my purse onto the front of the car while I was out and about and the thing is so old that no self-respecting car thief bothered to touch it.



No repairman yet
Thursday December 07th 2017, 12:06 am
Filed under: Family,Knit,LYS

Putting it off meant there were now 18 of them. That’s a lot of wool socks. I washed and rinsed them in the sink but there was no spinning them out–there was nothing for it but to squeeze each one long and hard away from the waiting ones. This after pushing myself to finish knitting that cabled hat whether my hands liked it or not (but I did it! No spoiler pictures for now.)

I asked him, Remember that conversation my mom said she had with her mom where Mom said she wished she had a live-in maid like Gram had had before the War, and Gram answered she’d have given her up in a second for a modern washing machine?

Someone young and strong to work that earlier contraption.

I told him, I want to upgrade to a ringer.

He chuckled. Then he asked about the hat: will it be warm enough?

It’s densely knit with overlapping cabled stitches knit on as small needles as as I could manage and it ate through a ton of yarn.

But Alaska. Will it be warm enough for him?

It would be if I lined it, and there’s room, I could, and that was the original intent, but even though I thought I bought extra I don’t have enough yarn left and the store in Anchorage is a bit too far to go back to. I don’t know if they ship. I do know I’m running out of time.

A contrasting color? he offered helpfully.

So what we had here was my husband working himself up to declaring that I must go to, most likely, Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. (Whose site seems hacked at the moment so I’m not linking it.) They carry Juniper Moon Farms.

So maybe the other Christmas presents and the still-waiting afghan just got pushed further back and that hat isn’t quite so done after all.

Hopefully, having to hand wash and squeeze out every piece of clothing in the house soon will be.



Pink P-hats
Friday January 20th 2017, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knit,Life,Lupus,LYS

I love that yarn stores across the country were reporting shortages of pink yarn, and that Malabrigo dyed extra due to the demand, sure that it could not arrive in time but people were asking for it anyway.

I laughed at reading that the chunkier yarns went first. Well, yes, you can knit those faster.

The original pattern, for which the New York Times said Malabrigo Rios was the recommended yarn, was as simple as it gets: knit a length with ribbing at the ends, fold it in half and sew the sides and let the ends of the square stick out for the ears once you fit it over a round head. The beginneriest beginner can do it.

I loved the photo someone posted of a planeful of women on the way to the march in DC, some with their hats on for the camera. I grew up in the DC area. I remember the marches and the hitchhikers along the roads afterwards, the sense of being part of history even as an onlooker. I fervently wish I could be there, heck, I wish I could be at the local one but I just cannot risk the sun time with my lupus.

Not to mention that my friend Diana’s memorial service, saved for after the holidays so that people would be able to come, is tomorrow. Diana herself would have changed the date in a heartbeat had she known about the march but it is what it is and I will be cheering her on her way and her loved ones in their grief. And that is how we create the changes for the better around us: one person at a time in each moment as it comes and to the best of our abilities.

I love that Kate at Dragonfly Fibers, in my husband’s hometown of Kensington, MD, posted a picture of 1,500 donated handknit hats, many of them with a note from the knitter to the wearer. She had volunteered to be a distribution point. These had filled her van and she had that many more to put in.

Every single one has been spoken for now.

I love that the project has sparked an interest in knitting nationwide. I love that some entrepreneur designed one fast and got it out there with more realistic ears, mass produced, even if it was $35 and they’d forgotten in their rush to even say what the fiber content was. (So, probably acrylic.) The more hats made, the greater the chance that everybody could have one.

I just couldn’t quite love the idea of putting the Donald’s worst denigration of women on my own personal head. But after the marches tomorrow, I imagine every one of those handknit hats (and maybe even those manufactured ones) is going to be a treasured family heirloom and a proud story for the great grandkids to come. I imagine the knitters of the donated ones and the wearers finding and befriending each other, having already together promoted the ideals our country stands for.

I just so much love that everybody’s doing what they’re doing.

I got requests, and then more requests, and then I would have had to make three for those guys and then for these other guys too and and and there just seemed to be no way to do it right–my heart was with them but if I stopped knitting the afghan I might never return to it. It was a little overwhelming, knitting-wise. I bailed.

I finally wish I’d at least made one, too.

Don’t have any chunky pink but I can double the strands…



At Green Planet
Thursday January 19th 2017, 10:29 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Family,Friends,Life,LYS

Green Planet Yarn had a meet-and-greet today: TNNA, the Stitches-type get-together for wholesalers and yarn store owners, was going to be here this weekend and thus the owners of several yarn dyeing companies had agreed to come to Beth’s shop with samples of new lines and just to get to meet some of the people who actually use what they create.

My going would mean being at least an hour and a half late picking Richard up from work. He encouraged me not to worry about it and just go. (A co-worker offered him a ride home in the end.)

It wasn’t just that I wanted to see the yarns: I specifically wanted to thank the folks at Blue Sky Fibers. I’m sure I’ve told the story here before, but not recently I don’t think, so here goes.

I was in the early stages of working on my lace shawls book. Meantime, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was coming to Berkeley for her first-ever book signing in California–Stash, I think was the name of the place–and Jocelyn and Cris and I carpooled together to go. After knowing Stephanie via the Knitlist since our kids had been little, I finally got to meet her for the first time.

Stash did a brisk business in books and yarn that night, and I came across some Blue Sky baby alpaca/silk that was both new and like nothing else out there. Wow. SO soft. Luminous, too, just gorgeous (and it is still one of the nicest yarns I know, all these years later.) I snapped up two skeins but definitely needed more to make a shawl.

Please, they told me: we know we have more of it in the back. We’re swamped. Can we just mail it to you in the morning?

Sure!

I got a very embarrassed phone call the next day: no, actually, they did not have any more, and there was about zero chance of getting an exact match on the next order. They were so sorry.

And that set off the great yarn hunt. I needed more and it needed to be that dyelot. There weren’t as many yarn stores online then nor that carried that particular yarn, but I called a few and emailed more and did what I could.

I’d seen ads in Interweave magazines for a particular shop back East that seemed to have a good inventory, and they said they would check and they asked for my phone number.

It did not occur to me to mention to them that I was three time zones away.

And thus the infamous story within the family of their starting the day by making sure I knew before I should head out for work that I had to keep looking.

Richard groaned awake in the dark, one of many times when being able to take my ears off at night has been nice for me but for him, not so much, and he reached over my head for the old Princess phone placed there on the small chance I might hear it ring if I really really had to.

“It’s your New York City boiler-room yarn pushers,” he growled as he shoved the handset my way at 5 a.m. “They want you to know they don’t have your dye lot.”

At that, I gave up and appealed to Blue Sky directly: did they have it? I was quite sure they didn’t do retail, but could I buy it from them anyway?

They actually had an exact match. I asked for two, they sent me three, and they refused to let me pay them a dime. Even when I protested.

I thanked them but it didn’t seem enough. Today was my chance.

Linda, the owner, was not there, but three of her staff were. As I found them one by one in the crowd, I showed them the shawl that had come of their generosity and gave them each an autographed copy of Wrapped in Comfort. Each one, independent of the others, asked to see what page it was on. They let me tell them what a difference they’d made to me and were delighted to take a fourth copy home for Linda.

Ran into old friends–including Jocelyn and Cris. Caught up a bit, had fun…

And noticed that one guy had been standing off by himself for awhile now and nobody was talking to him. Well that wouldn’t do, these things are supposed to be fun. Turns out he wasn’t a knitter. Turns out he was Michael, a businessman who was the husband of the Mrs. Crosby of Lorna’s Laces fame.

And as we talked, old friend and Green Planet employee Laura came by with a bag and offered me my pick. She worked the room and then came back towards me with another bag.

“It’s not my turn!”

She laughed. “Goodies for all! Take one!”

The first was a skein of Woolfolk from Blue Sky. The second was a bluegreen one-off dyeing of Shepherd’s Worsted from Lorna’s Laces, and I exclaimed to Michael over his wife’s beautiful work.

One brown hat and one bluegreen cowl as the next carry-around projects. (I had my oversized afghan project shoved halfway down into my tote, where it did not want to stay. It was a little ridiculous. But it did prove that I do like blues and greens together.)

And then the event was officially done and it was time to beat it home quick before the next downpour.



On the way
Friday December 30th 2016, 12:15 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

This didn’t get finished in time.

In part because I ran out of yarn. I had made a baby hat, weighed it, measured it, and thought yeah I have plenty to make a matching sweater. Well but no I didn’t: there was no third skein different-dyelot emergency backup like I thought, either. Oops.

I searched my stash. There was more Malabrigo Rios but there wasn’t any Bobby Blue nor one that would do as a contrast color.

I do love that I got to use the musk ox needle (bought as a souvenir there last summer) as both stitch holder and working needle on this particular project. It needed to be part of it.

I’d started at the back, added and subtracted for the sleeves and then come down the front. I had not planned on a cardigan but somehow in the adding and subtracting stitches I discovered the knit 2 purl 2 was going to turn into a knit 4 at dead center–man. Someone goofed. (Note that I was totally winging the whole thing–there is no pattern.)

Typing that out it hits me that I could have added two more stitches and turned it into a cable going down from the V. If I’d thought of it in time. I would probably have just made it but with zero left to finish that neck a little more neatly.

Adding a button band and around the neck meant more ribbing and more yarn and I just plain didn’t have it. I would need to see the colors in person and had no way to get to a shop. Post-concussion, I’m not driving yet.

So it didn’t go into Michelle’s luggage to be proudly hand-delivered to her big sister and brother-in-law in Alaska tonight.

I did show off to Richard that all those funny angles I’d been knitting actually looked like a baby sweater now.

We all piled into the car and he asked, Which airport?

SFO.

Oh, okay, not San Jose, good thing I asked.

We were almost there when he asked me, Do you want to go to your yarn store in South San Francisco on the way home?

Me, surprised: Yes! Sure! Thank you! It hadn’t even occurred to me or I’d have brought it with! (Thinking, this not-driving thing gets SO old and here he’ll be taking me to the very place that dyelot came from!) I opened my phone and checked their hours. We were good.

And that is how once again we ended up at Cottage Yarns together at rush hour to Kathryn’s surprise. Remember those skeins of Bobby Blue I bought to go into stripes in that afghan? I asked her. They weren’t bright enough. She nodded. I did a hat and sweater instead–I need contrasting, or something, for the button band.

She knew right where the Bobby Blue was and opened the bag with the same dyelot mine had come from.

And we were good to go. And did. And drove home in the mildest rush hour week of the year.