Winding down
Friday July 01st 2016, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,LYS

Goodbye, and Thanks For All The Fish.

I read that email, scrolling past the dolphin photo, inwardly pleading, NO. Oh please no!

It was true.

I put my carry-around cowl project in my purse and headed over to Purlescence. Sandi and Kaye were both there and we exchanged grief and thanks and hugs and memories of the good that had been.

But it came down to this: over the last ten years they had taught many how to knit, to crochet, to spin and to weave, and they knew some of those would continue to teach others. But they themselves had had very little time to make anything–they both described crafting at 4 am because the imperative to create felt so strong and had been kept in check for so long.

And so they decided to retire, and Purlescence will close for good August 28th.

But…but…but…but… !!!

I’m happy for them. I’m very sorry for all the rest of us. I’m glad we got to have that community gathering place as long as we did–and the wait for Stitches next February just got much much longer.

Totally got myself into this one
Wednesday June 22nd 2016, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS

I had a serious dearth of superwash merino around here.

In the store the purple looked like it would make a good foil to the multi-color, and so I got them home and dove in.

In swatching, the two-yarn lattice pattern I was going to do went out the window: Mecha seemed too thick to pull that off well. How about framed in purple on four outer edges.

I’ve knitted nearly the entire first skein already.

Now that the lower border is done and it’s time to switch to the brighter yarn, I’m not as confident about the mashup. I stopped midrow, grabbed the second yarn, and simply stockinetted till I’d gone through several quick color repeats.

In the right light it’s good, even if that bright fuchsia does scream Look at me!

I’m still not sure. I think Kathryn hadn’t been entirely either, although she wasn’t going to talk me out of it if I wanted it.

My husband says that me not being sure of a color combination is not a good sign for that color combination.

And of course colors influence each other, and in the original plan they would have been all over each other, interacting constantly, but now they’re going to be off in their separate corners.

Like two-year-olds in parallel play?


Okay, these are (the most flattering, frankly, of the) nighttime photos but then the finished thing will be used day and night. So there’s that.

The real answer is to just go buy more purple and not fuss any more about it.

The real question is, do they have more. At the rate this Pythagorean pattern is eating yardage I’d need (yow) the whole rest of the bag.

Thank you Mosaic Moon
Monday February 22nd 2016, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Food,Garden,LYS

One other Stitches story: I looked down at the basket at the front of my scooter Saturday afternoon and was stunned to find a four-inch knitted square in soft purple merino finished with a little crocheted hanging loop. Oh goodness!

I wheeled straight back to Mosaic Moon with the deepest apologies for my inadvertent thievery, saying it had to have either been from them or one other booth. (I hoped?!)

The guy laughed off my worries, affirmed it was theirs, and was just plain glad to see me again because that’s the kind of person he is. I was impressed. And deeply relieved it had found its way home and no harm was done. He definitely deserved a shout-out, and Mosaic Moon’s yarns are gorgeous and soft and I spent a lot of time oohing and aahing in their booth.

Back home, the third and fourth peach trees are almost in sync: the Babcock started blooming last Thursday, while the Indian Free, my only one that needs a pollinator, is almost, almost blooming but just not quite there yet. Tomorrow. My Baby Crawford that I planted last month, once it grows up a little, should cover any time the Babcock’s not doing the necessary overlapping flowering while keeping up the steady sequence of ripening times. We do love a good peach.

Meantime, back when I pruned the vigorous Indian Free, I plunked the largest multi-branch in sugar water and left it in the kitchen a few weeks to see if it would do anything.

It sprouted thread-thin roots and I planted it in a pot as soon as I saw them, wondering if they would take and if so how to make the leaf/root balance play out right.

A few weeks later squirrelocity today could not make it uproot from that pot. Looking good.

And today for the first time it had a spark of green at one node and it made me just about giddy with glee: it lives! It really lives!

We don’t need two identicals. I’ve been thinking once it gets going it just couldn’t be that hard to find someone who wants glorious spring flowers and nice-sized leaves, a tree that is highly resistant to peach leaf curl, and if there’s a pollinator nearby all the better and they’ll have Thomas Jefferson’s favorite peaches but it would be worth having even without that. It’s a pretty tree. Without a grafted root stock I can only guess that it will want to be quite tall: future yarn bombers take note.

Let’s wait till we see a second leaf or three, though, m’kay? But still. Looking at it feels glorious. To life!

Now you see him
Wednesday November 11th 2015, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,LYS

I debated the wisdom–no, actually, I thought it was an outright rather dumb idea–of taking fluffy blurry yarn to an eye doctor appointment. Those always take several hours so I knew I had to have something, and something smooth and plain on bigger needles than 4mm would have been better and I tried but in the end I just couldn’t make myself have another project going at once and so it talked its way into my knitting bag after all. Because it already had a few rows done.

It was a wispy brushed suri alpaca and silk that Fyberspates had given the perfect name of Cumulus to; a skein had grabbed me at Purlescence.

I’ve seen the retina specialist just a few times over the years, and yet he remembered me yesterday and particulars about me to my great surprise. I’d always thought he was a really nice guy; this time he just glowed.

He was also quite apologetic as he came in and I smiled, No, no, you’re fine!

Turns out he has decided to retire. He was taking his time seeing old friends, clearly, not knowing when he might get that chance again. I asked him what he would do in his retirement and he said he’d be continuing to guide residents at the medical school and to see his pediatric patients.

And I thought of all the preemies whose sight has been saved because of him, still getting to see him, and it made me so glad for him and them both. The new doctors coming up will be well served too with him still their mentor.

He was as thorough and careful as he was when my child was his young patient 22 years ago for a visit or two–and he’s the one who’d cleared his schedule despite his staff having told me no: when there was an emergency he was the one who’d taken over and made everything okay again.

He described my macula problem in detail. And then smiled and said he had that too. Way too early, no reason to risk surgery yet. Same with the cataracts, same with the corneas that will need transplanting some day. All in all, a little bit of aging but really, things do look good and should for some time.

He took great joy in that, and how could I not too?

He laughed at the end when I mentioned that somehow even blurry yarn had worked out there.

Another hour or so last night and again today and there you go, I did actually do most of it with my eyes dilated and now it’s done.

(Pattern: the lace pattern from my Water Turtles shawl in my book or, if you have the Barbara Walker treasury series (and really, if you knit, you should), it’s her Arrowhead Lace, used with permission. Knit between the asterisks, since the side edges don’t apply when you’re working in the round. I cast on multiples of ten till it went over my head easily and worked till I didn’t have enough yarn left to do another full repeat. I cast off very loosely to it would have lots of give. Not blocked yet. Cast off edge shown on bottom.)

Timing is everything
Thursday October 15th 2015, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,LYS

At knit night tonight I very nearly finished the first hat out of that so-soft Eco Duo. I eyed the bin, my fingers wanting to play with more.

And I said to Sandi: You remember putting that note on Facebook about this being on sale this week?


And I dashed right in and got some. And then all week long I’ve had the day wrong because, y’know, Purlescence is Thursday.

She laughed.

I almost missed tonight because I was sure it was Friday!

Can you frame that question better?
Thursday October 08th 2015, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,LYS

Amazing how much knitting you can get done in one day when you want to get past the fiddly stuff to the mindless part by knit night time. And I did!

I was wrong the other day. It wasn’t rubber from the plate frames, they were plastic, the rubbery grit was maybe road dust? Tire particles, I think. Whatever, still, I tossed the old ones from both cars. Who needs to advertise car dealerships?

The lady at the DMV was right: the car does look better with frames around the plates.

And so at knit night tonight, I half-jokingly, sure I was being outlandish, asked if they sold any that had, y’know, a knitting theme or something.

Sure! Okay if it says I’d rather be knitting above and Purlescence below?

Me, quite surprised: Sure!

How many do you need?


Got’em, and Greg went into the storeroom and to get one for someone else at the table and came back with them.

Me: How much?

Pamela (new employee, old friend): Free, they’re free advertising for the shop.

Me: But but but. Thank you! Cool!

And then I came home with them.

A certain someone grinned, rolled his eyes in great exaggeration, saying, I drive that car, too–and he patiently put up with me.

Well hey, I was just opening a discussion here. His and hers. We need to find/have made a ham radio one for you to go with mine for me, right?

He’s thinking about what he might like his to say. I think it might be a good idea for me to either take my second one back or find someone else who would really like one too.

Back at last
Thursday September 17th 2015, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,LYS

Finally, finally I got to go to knit night at Purlescence. I almost went last week but felt like, no, after that flu and two days’  break and then a cold, one more week. Just to be sure I don’t give any of that to anyone.

I got the BIGGEST hugs! I tell you. I’d missed those guys so much.

And towards the end I ripped out most of what I’d knit there because I hadn’t caught an early goof. It still felt good because now I know it’ll come out perfect. It’s a shawl that’s been waiting awhile for me to proof-knit it a second time because I do that when I’m intending to publish a pattern. I hadn’t gotten around to it and hadn’t gotten around to it so finally I’d given the second-done one away so I would have to.

Begin. The rest is easy. And it is! Man, that Malabrigo Silky Merino is nice stuff.

Here, have some
Thursday August 06th 2015, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Knit,Life,LYS,Recipes

I dangled what I hoped would be happy anticipation: I put this picture on Facebook with how to make it and said I had a lot more of these zucchini/pattypan hybrid squashes to bring to knit night.

So. Cut cupcake squash in half and place cut side down on plate.  Add a spoonful of water; nuke for three to four minutes till soft. Turn right side up again and scoop out seeds. Fill each with a big spoonful of Alfredo sauce mixed with one egg, sharp cheddar (or blue cheese and/or parmesan as you choose) and cherry tomato halves. Bacon bits if desired. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

Found one more squash this morning, but to be sure before heading out tonight I checked under those huge leaves one more time and found two more of a good size: how on earth had I missed those? (Well hey. Zucchini.) Seven went into a cloth bag.

All the way to Purlescence I was seeing the most unusual cloud formations–dalmation dog. Leopard print. Lots of little clouds against lots of blue.

Reactions when I put those green balls on the table ranged from oh cool! to oh okay to facial expressions of no no no please keep those far far away from me.

David came out of the back at the last and his face totally lit up when he saw those last two squash and I thought, okay, now I know who saw that post and was hoping. All yours, hon, please, take them–I have five more tiny ones and these have got to go. (I did not count the blossoms. I couldn’t bring myself to. I know you can stir fry those but an awful lot of them seemed to already have even tinier squashes already attached.)

He totally made my day as he made off with them in great delight.

Just before the shop closed down for the night, someone threw the doors open so we could hear the sounds and smell the ozone: it was RAINING! In August! And no it had not been in the forecast. A little, then more, then a good steady rain and lightning as I drove home. Rain rain actual rain, .04″ worth.

Those five tiny squash? With that extra water I’m guessing they’ll be full grown in time to try to ditch them at church.

Decompression chamber
Thursday October 30th 2014, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,LYS

The flu, the flu, the flu, (the autoimmune Crohn’s and lupus playing alongside), the cystitis.

And then today, after five weeks, I finally got to go off to knit night again. At last.

It is amazing how restorative it is to just sit and knit and catch up with good friends for awhile.

Coming Full Circle
Wednesday October 29th 2014, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,LYS

There was one summer evening at Purlescence probably two years ago where Sandi and Kaye had a big bowl of huge strawberries set out for the nibbling. They belonged to an organic farmshare and it was the peak of the season.

Those strawberries tasted like the ones my family drove an hour to a pick-your-own place near Camp David to get when I was growing up–and nothing like the grocery store’s. Wow. I went home and looked their supplier up and the demand was greater than the supply; new customers were not being accepted.

Saw something today and finally went looking again.

I’d wanted for a long time to know what a heritage-variety Spitzenberg apple tastes like; I’m not going to plant a tree that’s a question mark.

Our first Full Circle box comes next week. Spitzenbergs will be in it. I can’t wait.

p.s. Hat, finished, scarf, finished, baby dress, finished, baby blanket, finished. Happy Aftober!

Saturday October 18th 2014, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,LYS

(Updated to a daytime picture that does justice to the socks.)

Debbie was coming all the way from Fairfield for a quilt show and sent me a message: Purlescence was having an eighth birthday party tonight and that would be afterwards, so could we meet up there?

And so we did, and we found ourselves a quiet corner a bit apart from the crowd and talked for over two hours, swapping stories, catching up, belonging in the best way that friends do, a too-rare moment together. I adore her to pieces.

She reminded me of something I had utterly forgotten: she had asked me awhile back what color socks I wished I had.

Oh blue, definitely blue, any blue, wait wait wait you don’t have to…! (She wanted to.) Well then no time pressure ever and if it ever happens I would love it and if it doesn’t don’t ever feel guilty.

She had me try the first one on and it fit as if I’d been next to her through every stitch. We both cheered! She finished the very last bit of the second one right there on the spot (I loved it, that would so have been me, too) and ran the ends in, then made me take the first back off my feet–it’ll be stinky, I warned her with a grin, you sure, it’s been on that foot now, y’know–and she ran the end in on that one, too. And I sat there with the prettiest socks on in the whole entire yarn store, prouder than anything and just amazed and happy and grateful and wow. Thank you Debbie! There’s a lace pattern curving around it and I’ll try to show it off better later.

I have very happy feet.

Air and light and yarn and friends
Thursday June 19th 2014, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Life,LYS

And family!

Drop off, pick up, oh I forgot my could you get me yes of course I’d be glad to workapartmentphysicaltherapistapartmenttrainstationhomehaircuthometrainstation apartmenthome(onesingle minutebeforethephonerangtogoagain)work–starting at 8 am, grateful for hot cocoa in a travel mug and a family that I love.

And then bacon-wrapped scallops for a quick dinner because, y’know, there they were, just sitting in the freezer waiting for a day that had earned them and today, happy as it was, was definitely the day.

And then finally I got to sit down, hold still, work on the baby blanket, and chat with friends at Purlescence. Good times.

I should have taken pictures–the place looked so different from last week.

They’d been using towering dark brown cubbies inherited from the previous yarn store that I know had had them 25 years ago and very likely a few decades before that, too.

Once the Purlescence crew started taking them down they found out just how past their prime those homemade bins were–the extra bolts they’d put in had held them together just long enough. (To all the Californians thinking earthquake, they’d bolted the sides to the walls, too, as one must.)

There are light wood half-walls now, the yarn hanging on hooks to either side, everything on display and in view.  Wow, the place looks so much better. The airflow in the room is better, the lighting is better, the dark caverns that the aisles were have vanished into history and what they call their living room area no longer feels like an isolated corner. I can’t begin to imagine how much work that was to pull all that off in a few days.

But it’s as welcoming-looking and warm and friendly now as its owners are, and that’s saying a lot.

Ramble on home
Thursday May 15th 2014, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,LYS,Wildlife

Hey, tell Parker: there’s a new kind of digger!

There were a few tomato pots where the seedlings simply vanished.

And then… I found a tomato seedling, couldn’t be anything but, planted quite nicely in an amaryllis pot  a few feet away.

Can squirrels really carry such a tender thing gently enough? Their digging ability can never be doubted, I mean, there’s a lizard species that depends on them to get past the hardpack. Look Ma, no teeth! Who knew. The thing looked quite happy there.

I scooped it out anyway and put it back where it wouldn’t compete with my bulb.

And there was a safflower sprout via my birdfeeder a dozen feet away growing in another tomato pot, the little farmer. Okay, out you go.

On the peregrine falcon front: it’s supposed to be a few more days before fledging, but one of the females turned and bumped her brother off the low ledge today when he hadn’t even made the hop-and-flight yet to the upper one to see the world in that direction for the first time. (Here’s his more antsy brother in a video from sunrise this morning.) He didn’t fly really but gently coasted, landing straight below the 18th floor nestbox. Safe!

And so Glenn Stewart, the biologist in charge, drove an hour from UC Santa Cruz, got the baby-in-the-box from wildlife services, went up on the roof and put the little guy up there where his parents would keep feeding him as he got the hang of this flying thing. Glenn wasn’t about to rappell a floor down City Hall to the box with the parents going for his head like he does during banding, the eyas just needed a little more time where humans couldn’t reach it.

Clara and Fernando didn’t even react with more than a glance to the familiar face that stayed further away this time. Oh, it’s you. Carry on.

(p.s. And on a happy for her, sad for us note, Nathania is devoting herself fulltime to her yoga business and letting the others carry on at Purlescence.  She will be much missed.)

There’s no business like shawl business
Wednesday March 05th 2014, 12:26 am
Filed under: Friends,LYS,Wildlife

Two miles from home, so its territory was close enough that it could have been one of our fledglings of several years ago recognizing me: I was stopped at a light and an adult Cooper’s hawk zoomed out of the trees lining the street and straight towards me. Wow. About six feet over the center of my car while I sat there not blinking, really grateful for that red light–and wondering if the other drivers had even seen or had had any idea what they were seeing. I wondered if it was the baby I’d seen hopping around my amaryllis pots back in the day, close to the window with me on the other side like his papa likes to do.

I was across the street from the high school, and I wished I could tell all those teens that when I was in high school the bigger birds had all vanished from the skies. And look!

I saw five more raptors just on the way up 280, and on the way back a first-year redtailed hawk was standing in the grass just off the side of the freeway, presumably having just taken down lunch. It was near the reservoir where bald eagles recently built a nest for the first time in a hundred years. But no, not a juvie eagle. Someday…

Where it was, it looked like it had stopped to smell the daffodils someone had decorated the little hill with. Random acts of gardenership.

And against all the odds after having bought the original skein in December, I was able to match my dyelot with the help of Kathryn at Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. Yay!

The shawl must go on.

The rose-colored shoes
Sunday February 23rd 2014, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,LYS

DebbieR and her husband stopped by! She surprised me with an oven mitt she’d made me–no more burned hands and no more flipping blueberries at Richard and we all had a good laugh together over that. It was very kind of her. We had a too-short but sweet visit.

The best part of Stitches, with Kris my potter friend helping me figure out what was being said in that loud echoey room, was when the announcer came on to say that the lost engagement ring belonging to this person in that booth had been found–and the whole convention center burst into cheers and clapping, thousands of people wishing the couple every happiness forever. I added the echo this time.

And there was one other thing yesterday that I’ve been mulling over how to say without invading their privacy. And–I could be wrong. And yet….

They’ve been vendors at Stitches for a number of years now. I have bought a little from them but not a lot, much though I might want to; I’m certainly not their most frequent customer. But yesterday when the crowds were down there was room for my chair in there and I wanted to see what they were up to these days. So I ventured in.

His face seemed–distracted, inwardly so, as if a bit lost from the crowd. In pain, is how it felt to me.

She, not the more gregarious one in the past, struck up the conversation, feeling the edge of my soft Lisa Souza-yarn shawl and telling me what a pretty color it was on me.

I kind of laughed, held up a foot with a deep rose Birkenstock Fayette on it and said, “And it even matches my shoes.”

“Ah. Women and their shoes.” Something in her voice–it was by no means disdainful, it was a knowing of humanity and loving it in all its foibles.

It was not the voice of the saleswoman I would have recognized from the past.

But I said, “No, actually, I have the feet of a man.” (I didn’t add, and then some. EE-wide.) “This is the first time I have ever been able to buy a shoe just because it was pretty, that was purely frivolous.” And I silently marveled at it and she did too for my sake.

I admired some of their newest yarn but when I tried to imagine justifying it to Richard, I could not; it was a quite good price for what it was but it was still well beyond me this year, and I put it back down as she engaged me in conversation some more, both of us enjoying each other’s company in the moment, knitter and longtime familiar face to same.

Something was…different.

At one point I saw the two reaching out for each other’s hand for just a moment’s touch and it seemed so pure and so private and so intense that I felt I was an interloper and, happy for them, wheeled on.

Richard had come early the day before when he was picking me up and had waited while I was oblivious and I wasn’t going to do that to him the second day; right at 6:00 I was at the doors, not knowing the freeway was a parking lot and I could have had more of my once-a-year time talking to friends.

She brushed gently past on her way and turned to get my attention and wish me all the best, holding me in her eyes a moment, connecting one last time before I left, that most beautiful handknit hat on her head.

With, I finally noticed as she continued on her way, no hair showing at all from underneath it. Suddenly I knew. I would have given anything to race after her to go befriend her anew and beyond the pleasantries of the day, to tell her husband that my husband would understand, that I had come to Stitches five years ago needing to put myself squarely back into humanity and friends and creativity and life! two weeks after being so very ill that none of the medical personnel had thought I would survive–but I had, and she would, she had to, if I could she could, please be well.

And please know that my prayers now go with you both. I am so glad I got to see you. I’m sorry I didn’t see sooner.

And I’m also not. Because for those wonderful moments you created for me you didn’t have to relive all that but just be.