Better yet, take Mom with me
Monday January 10th 2022, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History,Knit,LYS

Early on in this whole pandemic thing, when everything had been on lockdown and particularly so in our area, the county north of us decided that a customer could buy something online and the shopkeeper could hand it to them outside now. You could have that close a contact, briefly. Youcouldn’t browse, you couldn’t go in, you couldn’t touch their credit card machine, but you could do that.

This is when they were still trying to figure out the details of how covid-19 is spread.

I talked to one of my local shops, saying that what I wanted was two bags of a particular blue Malabrigo Rios that matched so that I would have enough for an afghan. I knew that officially it’s ten skeins per bag equals one dye lot; rumor, though, is that they’re matched up in groups of ten but that the mill produces more than that in each lot. But that’s a rumor.

So.

I wanted twenty skeins. I’ve found matching bags in the past, but I wasn’t going to be able to go in and eyeball anything.

Turns out the whole supply-chain mess meant the shop didn’t have and couldn’t get them in from Malabrigo for months.

But maybe her yarn rep had them on hand, she wondered.

Turns out she did.

Once those were delivered, I swung by the shop, they handed me the bags out on the sidewalk rather than frisbeeing them from, y’know, six social feet away through the car windows and all that and it was so good to see actual human faces again, not to mention old friends.

(Unspoken: Still here. Still here. And you too! Stay that way. Thank you for wearing those masks. Pray those vaccine researchers get their studies finished fast.)

I waited till I got home to see if my initial quick impression was correct. It was.

She’d been so relieved that the two bags matched like her rep had been sure of.

Now, here I interject a quick story about my folks visiting the dye works for a tapestry weaver in France at a time when they decided they needed just a bit more of this one color for their project, so the dyer was asked to create more.

He asked Mom if this and this matched.

She said no, not quite, and why. But no, sorry.

He hadn’t thought it was discernible but since clearly it was, he added just a touch more to the pot. There you go.

So blame it on the genetics. Here I was, staring at those blues, going, but they’re just not quite the same. This one’s more vibrant. This one’s darker. You can put them in all kinds of different lights and it doesn’t change the fact. It’s certainly not a huge difference, but…

So instead of becoming the next big project they’ve sat there for all this time because I can’t use them together unless I separate them by enough other colors and space that the difference might not matter, in which case I would no longer need twenty skeins of Matisse blue because half of the afghan would be something else altogether. Which has had me wondering if I should ask my friends who do diving and photography if they have a particular reef photo I could use, to riff on last year’s fish theme.

I’ve been musing about trying to match the one or the other, but I don’t know if inventories are back up yet.

Here, let me finish this other project first before I worry about it too much.

I just like to know what’s ahead.



I may have picked that up along the way
Saturday November 27th 2021, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

(The colors are better than my phone claims.)

I finished another hat for the work crew; I’ll run the ends in when they’re here so they can feel like they got to see part of that one happening, too. Man, it feels good. And I did get to Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco and stocked up on guy colors and started in on the next.

The skein that’s still in the hank is the one that arrived as expected from Imagiknit, along with the usual business card.

But the other side of it is no longer blank.

Imagiknit got bought out this past summer by one of its former employees, and one can only wonder in astonishment at what some customer must have said to elicit this.

And then I laughed, hard, thinking who this got sent to, because, yeah.

 



It’s only natural
Wednesday October 13th 2021, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

The yarn came.

It’s an exact match. That never happens. But it is. Probably came from the same batch at the mill even though I bought them at different times and different San Francisco-area stores. Twelve inches of afghan recklessly knitted in the previous undyed white wool, suddenly totally justified. Man, that feels good.

The tree is branching out now.

And in the strange, strange house department–the pouting telephone stays. The bears stay. (Just sell me one of those and we’re good.) Everything does. Except not the tractor nor, inexplicably plain after all that other stuff, the table under the gazebo.

I’m thinking the ladder for the kids to bypass the stairs to the second floor with would disappear if I had any say in it and having a gun overhead much less in earthquake country is unfathomably Darwinian (did they think the kids wouldn’t figure out that ladders can be moved?)

But should one ever want to put one’s head in a lion’s mouth (scroll halfway down to read where Amy did on a live one) there’s your chance.

I’m not even sure what one of those animals once was and I am so not into carcasses on the wall.

And yet if the power ever went out and the temps were decidedly unCalifornian, you could definitely stay warm.

But first you’d have to drag the ladder over to them.



Speed bump ahead
Tuesday October 12th 2021, 10:23 pm
Filed under: LYS,Politics

Twenty-six rows today, maybe a row shy of twenty-six inches. Serious progress.

Forgive me a bit of a rant, though.

Imagiknit‘s email saying “Your package has been shipped” also says, and this is new, that if the post office is still claiming they haven’t got it yet, which is in fact what they’re saying on mine, they do, check with them, ie, they’re just not updating in a timely manner. I read that as, please don’t make us pay for our employees’ time tracking it down because of the post office’s screwups. I also know how immediately Imagiknit gets their customers’ purchases out there.

Postmaster General DeJoy made it official policy to slow down packages as of Oct 1–I guess not entering them into the system means they’re trying to dodge customer blowback against that slowdown on their part.

I don’t know why he still has his job. I think he’d have to be fired for cause but there’s definitely cause: a whole lot of people, especially in rural areas, depend on timely mail for their meds. My problem is just yarn but still, I do want to start the branches on my tree and I’m almost out of the white for the background.

And of course this turned out to be the first week where my husband has had to drive in to work, and he no longer works where I can just drop him off. We had planned to buy a new car for the commute whenever it finally happened but this has definitely turned out not to be the year to be in the market for one.

So heading out to the nearest yarn store in desperation is not something I can do for a few days either. I’ve been sitting here with my knitting needles chasing that roadrunner as fast as I can go and I’m about to smack right into that wall.

I’m just going to have to wait. Ah, poor baby.



Keep them open
Monday August 17th 2020, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Friends,History,Knit,LYS,Politics

I’ve mentioned Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco from time to time.

I got a Buy 3 Get 1 Free! email from Kathryn.

She’s only doing curbside because her county doesn’t allow customers to touch anything inside the store. You can’t pick up a book. You can’t squish and gauge which merino is softest. You have to know what you want.

Well I do. So I called and ordered fourteen skeins of Rios in Ravelry Red, with a conversation with my friend Afton to the side and headed on up there.

I asked Kathryn how it was going.

She said that while the county had everything completely shut down for two months, her landlord was only willing to cut the rent by 25%–while knowing her sales were zero for that time. After that, no breaks, no nothing, pay in full or you’re out.

So she is scrambling to make that rent.

You walk in her store (back when you could) to find cubbies along the walls on up to the ceiling, narrow aisles with more cubbies and more yarn above your head. Yarn yarn yarn. It’s a small space with a huge inventory. She doesn’t just sell Malabrigo, but that’s what I come for the most and she has more of it than anyone I know.

She’s not tech savvy and doesn’t have an online shop, but she will mail if you know what you want. She told me people have come to her after being able to find only a skein or two online elsewhere of something–whereas she’ll have a full bag or even two, enough to actually do a big project.

I showed her my ocean afghan so far. Most of it came from her. She was quite pleased.

I almost, almost bought the two bags of Rios in the Jupiter reds and browns colorway, but I was already picking up that red for a future afghan and had a request in for Matisse Blue to make another ocean afghan because a family member preferred that as the background; she’s checking to see if her yarn rep has it.

I texted Afton from the curb about that bag of Cian she had–my ocean’s background color, and got an enthusiastic, YES!

And so between the two of us we were able to help Kathryn out a bit and cheer her on. And, selfishly, to help keep my favorite yarn source going.

And then I went to the post office to mail Afton’s off to her.

Last week, the place was just deserted.

Today, the parking lot was full right after me. People were wearing masks and social distancing at the blue marks on the floor in a line that went from the two clerks (there used to be at least three if not four during the day, this being the main one in a major city in Silicon Valley) clear across the long room past all the post office boxes to the far window. They were not walking back out to try UPS because it might be shorter–they were walking in, seeing how it was, visibly taking it in stride one after another and putting that commitment of their time into this.

There was an outcry when, along with banning overtime and removing thousands of sorting machines, post office boxes in poor neighborhoods where people might vote were being removed last week–so Trump’s Postmaster General donor buddy had them stop doing that: instead, they put big red plastic locks on so no mail could go in.

We can fight back.

I paid for Priority and for insurance on not what I paid but what it would cost me to replace those ten skeins at full price plus pay for shipping and insurance again. More than I had to. Because I wanted to. They offered, as always, stamps, and I considered, but I’d just bought them twice and I wanted to look forward to an excuse for a next time. And frankly, I didn’t want them to run out for the day because, man, they just might.

All those patient-looking people behind me with that long long long wait were surely in it with the same determination.

The Post Office is under attack. Long live the post office.

Mail yarn. Make stuff with it, and mail that, too.



But can she knit?
Tuesday August 11th 2020, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Life,LYS,Politics

In my mother’s day it was, But can she type?

My grandmother was a member and later president of the Congressional Wives’ Club back when the idea of a woman running for the Senate was considered unthinkable, when the wives were to wear proper white gloves and hats when calling upon one another and to support their important husbands.

Before their landlord priced them out during the first high tech boom, I used to drive to the biggest yarn store around, Straw Into Gold, in the western, flat part of Berkeley near the freeway, not far from the Oakland line. They had everything: spinning wheels, looms, classes, yarn in cones or skeins, and they were the American distributor for all things Ashford of wheel and loom fame.

Except parking. That could be a problem.

There was another warehouse-type building across the broken up alley from them that looked like it had been converted into housing, how legally so one could only guess. (This is not far from where the too-flammable Ghost Ship later came to be.) On its wall facing Straw, someone had written an angry warning, Do not pee against this wall because there are cameras and we will report you if you do.

This was not an incentive to spend too long around there once you walked out their door.

And that is the area around where Kamala Harris grew up, with UC Berkeley, where her mother was a researcher, up the road a bit.

And look where she is now.

I had two candidates I was undecided between and glad I didn’t have to make the final call–but when my daughter texted me to say it was Harris, something in me went YES!!! I knew. I just knew. Yes! She was the right choice and we will be well served having her as Vice President. I can’t wait.



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.



Lockdown day 39: the other green
Thursday April 23rd 2020, 9:33 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

So, it was like that yesterday, and I sat down and got four rows into the next fish before it was time to rest my hands and call it a night.

It was only after that that I went, wait a minute….

Ohmygoodness. It was true.

I had ordered the Ankara Green to mix with the blues at the top of the future waves. I hadn’t even glanced at the Water Green because it looked lighter than anything I wanted to deal with.

But that’s what it was and after opening that bag yesterday I’d immediately paired it with what had been an orphan skein: if one critter was going to be multicolor to the point of overdoing it, well, as Eleanor Roosevelt says, repeat your mistake and make it a pattern.

And then it’s not a mistake anymore.

This sure wasn’t.

I emailed Uncommon Threads, thanking them profusely and enthusiastically–it meant I hadn’t had to wait a week for the mail from someone else for me to be able to start in on the next fish in colors Uncommon didn’t have–but letting them know in case it messes up their inventory.

I won’t need that Ankara for awhile anyway.

But I put in a second order of it now because I wanted to say thank you. They’d totally rescued me.



Lockdown day 38: knitters just know
Wednesday April 22nd 2020, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

You guys!!

I spent more time working out the design, even made paper cut-outs of fish with circles of tape on the back to be able to move them around my drawing while keeping them to scale.

And I went through all my Rios, ie all my soft superwash worsted-weight merino in the house.

Amazing how much that stuff gets used up.

Being with other colors changes how you perceive them: context matters, and there were a fair number of perfectly nice skeins that just weren’t going to work out with what I’d done so far. That not-bright with that bright but not that one with it.

Which of course means that some of what I’d originally planned on using next, but that I’d kept mentally dragging my feet over the more and more I got into what I was doing so far… But I’d been reluctant to order more sight unseen and right now that’s the only option–it’s not like anybody can go browse anywhere. I’d been avoiding the issue until finally I had no choice.

Rios, it turns out, is a popular yarn to order online when you’re stuck at home. For good reason. It took some searching.

I did, though, I found what I wanted–and inwardly lamented that I was going to have to wait till it came from the east coast. Plus Illinois. I did not want to lose my momentum, but the very next row was where I was going to need to start the next fish in some new color and that yarn just wasn’t here. What I wouldn’t have given to have been able to dash out to Cottage Yarns–you couldn’t ask for a better Malabrigo inventory than Katherine’s.

I did spot some light seafoam green at Uncommon Threads a few miles up the road, though, and thought that would be good for the mixing of blues and light at the tops of the waves to come. Their Living Coral was redder than my Glazed Carrot, cool, some of that, too, for the clownfish that I’ll be doing after the ones coming up. If I’m going to be a perfectionist I might as well be a perfectionist.

They didn’t even charge me for shipping.

All. Day. Long. I wanted to knit on that afghan but not if I couldn’t do it right. Color (quoting my friend Constance) is everything.

I was out back watering the mango after dinner and when I came back inside, Richard was wandering down the hall calling my name, holding a pretty little paper bag by its handles. “Where did you go?” He’d seen someone running away from the door and clearly, this was meant for me.

They did?! Seriously?!

It was from Uncommon Threads. Niiiice.

I pulled out the seafoam green and compared it to what I had and suddenly one ball at the bottom of the bag whose tag and colorway name are lost to me leaped out at its new best friend. “That’s IT!” I exclaimed in delight. I could do it! I can do it now! I started doing it now! It’s perfect, both with what has been and with what will be.

Man, that felt good. One fish two fish red fish not-blue fish. Thank you, Uncommon Threads!



Inviting
Saturday November 02nd 2019, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life,LYS,Politics

I was at Fillory yesterday, sitting at the large table there visiting with friends and knitting away as people came and went around us, when I found myself getting up to check on the yarn they were winding up for me.

Usually I start off by picking out a skein, paying for my afternoon’s entertainment with it, then pulling up a chair to knit the previous week’s ball into a hat while the staff turns the new hank into a ready-to-knit ball and then they come and bring it over to me. There’s a line at the ballwinder? I’m in no hurry.

But that all just felt too passive this time.

There was a customer I don’t remember seeing before: browsing, going to the clerk to ask a question, looking around some more, kind of hanging back from other people the whole time. She’d been in there about ten minutes.

It wasn’t the head scarf that caught my eye, it was that she seemed so unsure of herself. Maybe she was a beginner and we all looked like experts to her.

But maybe not. Her clothes and accent marked her as an immigrant, I’m guessing from Africa, and I know that rather than the welcoming country we used to be our government has of late made it harder for those not born here, no matter how they arrived, to feel at home.

Often of a Friday afternoon every seat of that table is filled, but this time there were several nice chairs open. Good. I invited her to come and sit and knit with us, if she would like to.

You should have seen the transformation in her face! She had not expected to be welcomed. She had not expected to be claimed as belonging.

Practically speaking, she probably didn’t know if it was a formal class or group or what, but clearly, intruding on it would never have occurred to her. That particular good time and camaraderie she was quietly observing over there was for others.

But we were just random people and she had every right to be right there with us. I knew that it would make our group all the better if she did.

She smiled and shook her head no.

But she was just transformed and she stayed happy and that made all the difference to me, too.



Time to get that head warm again
Friday September 27th 2019, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,LYS

The newborn size hat on the right was the one I made on the plane from the Plymouth superwash merino I bought our last full day in Alaska, knitted as a twin to what the white one had been.

I took these to Fillory Yarns today. One employee, when I described what had happened, said, well with the 50% silk content on the one you could maybe stretch it.

I guffawed and showed her the one on the upper left, saying, that had been my thought too till I saw it.

So my question of the day was, which wool could go through the washer *and* the dryer? Because it’s going to. And I don’t mind but I don’t want the kids disappointed again.

We read labels together. We both swooned over a particular superwash merino/silk/yak mix in the most gorgeous shimmering deep red, such perfect softness for a new baby, but there was just no way to know.

Finally she reached over to one of the less expensive lines and said, My grandsons do everything to the sweaters I made them out of this and they’ve come out okay.

It was the same Plymouth wool. I guess I lucked out up north after all. I touched a few skeins and somehow the bright red, a color my daughter loves, was softer than the white, which felt like my skein of white: certainly not bad at all, but not like cashmere. Huh. Usually it’s the dyeing process that diminishes the softness ever so slightly; I have no idea why this was the opposite, other than that red just got luckier in its choice of individual sheep?

A skein of it came home with me. I should already have mailed the white hat. I hope to get two to the post office come Monday.



I ran and did that
Thursday August 22nd 2019, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

It wasn’t upside down when I took the picture. Nor when I sent it. Again. It’s doing what it wants to do. I think this was Queguay colorway, Malabrigo Mecha, anyway.

See, I knit someone a hat, and looked forward to giving it to him at church.

Didn’t see him. But he’s always there! Nope.

Knit another hat. In case his son visits him again, and you couldn’t leave him out, right?

Didn’t see them.

So last Friday, being at Fillory for the informal knitting group and always feeling like I should buy a skein to pay for my afternoon’s entertainment, I hunched down at the display of Mecha yarn and said a little prayer, a bit of a joke to G_d: See, when I picked out the color he didn’t want to disappoint me so he didn’t come, right? But if I pick out what he wants then he’ll be there, right? So which one should it be?

This skein leaped into my hand. I worked on the afghan while the staff wound it up for me.

Sunday’s coming. It needed to be finished.

I even got the ends run in, just to make sure I don’t get tripped up at the last minute by procrastinating that part.

To be continued.



Climb every mountain
Friday August 16th 2019, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,LYS

Went to Fillory to hang out and knit among friends for awhile and it suddenly hit me that wait–this thing is actually somehow almost done!

It’s taller than wide already. It’s certainly stretchy, but in its relaxed state it’s about 41″ wide, whereas I usually consider 45″ square to be the minimum for a receiving blanket.

I didn’t know when I started it small that I would be able to find more of not only that discontinued yarn but that dye lot–and I had no idea those little 50 gram balls would go as far as they have. But then, this is a much smaller blanket than the monster 1700g Rios one was. It’s for the baby to drag around behind her once she’s walking and to take everywhere she goes, and you don’t want big nor bulky for that.

It is 70/30 baby alpaca/mulberry silk. Super soft, not super practical, and yet it leaped onto my needles that first day and demanded to be for that granddaughter.

One friend held it today and swooned at the softness and totally made it feel like I’d gotten it just right–she had no way to know how much she was helping.

I debated out loud about adding an edging; the consensus was, it’s fine as is, especially for a drag-around lovie.

I’m still torn. Maybe add just at the sides rather than all the way around? Because small as it already is, it’s going to go through the hand wash cycle in their laundry.

Where the baby alpaca will want to shrink the fabric. Whereas the soft single-ply spinning means the 30% mulberry silk will make the yarn want to stretch out, most likely lengthwise. Plus there’s the lace parts, which will flatten out wider and who knows how that’ll come out.

The middle part is knitted mostly solid to give a sense of the immense height of the snowy Alaskan mountains above–but also for there to be no yarnover holes right where it’s most wrapped around that baby in that climate.

Really the only answer is to give it a quick rinse and blocking when the main part is done and see what size it is then and call it from there.

But I’m finally at the point where that is something I get to worry about now and it actually surprised me.

Somehow I am only at the start of the tenth ball and there were twenty-one. If disaster strikes and she needs a new lovie like the old lovie (good luck with that–this was seat-of-the-pants designing all the way) I’ll be able to make one. If I don’t add that edging.

Remind me if that does happen, that on that chart I (mostly) used for the moose, I added a stitch’s width to its muzzle because it looked too deer-like.

I’m pretty happy with this.



With a cherry on top
Friday June 28th 2019, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,LYS

Hung out at Fillory aka Green Planet Yarns and saw–Renee! We did a mutual double take in disbelief and then big hugs and it was great to see her and catch up a bit. We met when I was doing a book signing at Warren‘s yarn shop in Marin a dozen years ago, with a Stitches or two thrown in since.

Meantime, the pie is all gone and there are enough tart cherries for two more.

My my. Whatever shall we do.

(Burning the crust just meant we could skip the empty calories part, we figured. So: the new silicone crust-edge cover? Yeah no.)



They knew the place
Friday May 31st 2019, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,LYS

The real simple solution: I put a lid on the trashcan this evening. Stifle it, eat-eth. (With apologies to Carroll O’Connor.)

The yarn store in the beach town: I went to Fillory this afternoon to show my friends who go there on Fridays that “this is all your fault” as I showed them the afghan project with a grin.

It is safe to say they approved.

One of the staff there didn’t know how to cable six across seven stitches or how the fourth one stays the middle one going straight up as the others pass over, so now those two have helped someone else learn something new as well.

While I was there, I mentioned last Friday’s incident about the tangling yarn on the skein winder, and when I got to “she went to cut it” the three women nearest me gasped audibly.

I told them thank you. It wasn’t just me, then.

But I had done nothing about it after getting no answer from my Facebook private message asking if I could send a note to the owner, and I still wondered what the right thing to do was. Just leave it be? I mean, I could imagine a new mom running on no sleep doing something stupid in a moment without thinking straight.

Or it could be what it looked like–that a depressed clerk didn’t care and she wasn’t going to put up with any more of this. But I don’t know, and I don’t want to blame nor judge. I don’t want to be mean any more than I want her to be.

We discussed how best to bring it up.

What it came down to, as it had at the first, was, if I were the owner I’d want to know. And as they pointed out, People don’t want to go back after something like that.

Exactly.

Okay, so, I guess that means I will try after all.

But they loved how the afghan they’d helped mentor into existence was coming out, and that and their own projects were more fun to talk about.

Then I came home just in time to watch, from inside, a Cooper’s hawk do a figure eight around the awning poles fifteen feet away in pursuit of dinner and then a loop back around the first pole. Whoosh! And away!