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.



Kids don’t try this at home
Monday December 05th 2016, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Life,LYS,To dye for

Since for the last nearly three weeks the idea of carting a full dyepot around was out of the question, that of course was what I most wanted to do.

So today I just decided I was going to. And then since there was still dye left in that pot, I did it again. And (add the last of that purple in that bottle, I need to remember to order more–I miss Purlescence!) again. I figured that weight-wise, the trick was to spoon the thing over into a second, empty dyepot and carry it and then later the full dyepot separately across the house to break the load down into smaller tasks, and I let the water go pretty low by the end. (One does *not* pour any amount of dye down the kitchen sink. One scrubs the purple porcelain.)

Watching a faded-gray-blue $5 closeout silk T and a mousy earthy-mauve (not my color) $6 eBay v-neck cashmere sweater turn out matching shades of purple to wear together was a lot more magic than I expected to get. Oooh, that’s what I’d always wanted that sweater to be! It was really cool.

But one of the things I’m in the habit of doing when I’m overdyeing sweaters is to tuck the wooden dye spoon under the object and lift it mostly out of the pot right at the beginning and let it hang a moment midair to try to make sure there are no wrinkle lines in how the dye latches on. Stir, lift again.

This did not go so well using, out of habit, my right hand. Which did not hold up its end of the bargains.

Somehow, as I raced for the bathroom for a towel and the mirror, sheerly by the grace of God is the only way I can describe it, only one big droplet of purple landed on my head and it hit exactly in the part line on my scalp.

Not (other than that) in my hair.

This was protein-fibers dye and it was at a low boil, the temp at which it affixes to the material at hand. Or head. Which, however, was not boiling, so maybe a few shampoos should do the job. I got some on my hands too and it’s all gone now.

As far as I can tell it’s off and that is that.

I think, though, that I’d probably better mention it to the dermatologist when she does my annual post-skin-cancer check next week. Just in case she sees that I’m in a purple state.



The clearing
Friday September 09th 2016, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,LYS

There was a photo and a note on Facebook: Did anybody want… Free to a good home…

Someone else asked for the big red crockpot. I asked if the smaller one had been spoken for. (Much more our size anyway.)

It had not. I headed over. The doors at Purlescence are locked now but lots of work was going on on the other side as the place was slowly being emptied of its ten years.

Kaye carried the thing to my car for me and, almost there, threw in the thought of, You wouldn’t be interested in a toaster oven?

YES! I exclaimed a little harder than quite entirely reasonable, surprising myself. I had long wanted to be able to warm up just a bit of the kitchen for some small baked thing, but not enough to justify replacing my elderly cracked-plastic simple two-slicer. We don’t have a lot of countertop space. I had not wanted to want one and it all kind of came out in that one-word blurt.

She apologized that it needed cleaning, but I found when I got home that it needed very little. It’s cute. It’s a two-bagel-slice top with a pull-down door in front and not much more of a footprint than my old toaster, a total win.

But the biggest thing about the both of them is the bit of history she offered with them: all those Thursday nights, all those knit nights, they’d had these tucked away upstairs for a quick bite to eat.

So that’s how they’d made it through all those long days over all those years.

These appliances had sustained my friends so that they could sustain our knitting community and now I get to have them here with me. And someone else got to take home part of that history too, and I like that. I like it a lot.

And I love that I now have a toaster oven that kind of looks like an old jukebox.

I need to go toast me some toast. Anyone got a favorite slow cooker recipe? Chicken tikka masala, maybe?



17 miles
Saturday July 09th 2016, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

Every now and then, even the online mapmaker folks goof. Don’t know if you’ve encountered it but I have a couple of times. Like the time I was trying to meet up with an old college roommate and finally pulled over and called her.

The map said this road connected up with that. Turns out that the one stopped a block shy–you had to go around this other way.

So. I used to on rare occasion go to Green Planet Yarns when they were in downtown Campbell, but parking there was always horrible, and Purlescence was closer and easier all around, so, eh. I did like the owner, though, even if I didn’t know her very well, and she stocked some nice stuff.

And then Green Planet moved to San Jose.

The map…

I tried. A year ago I spent an hour wandering around on (turns out) the wrong side of the freeway, pulling over several times to check my phone to see what it was saying now, since I couldn’t hear it. Finally I gave up in frustration and headed home.

I joked with Kathryn’s husband at Cottage Yarns a few days ago when I went to show her the Mecha afghan that I’d be back in two weeks (again) with the next one in Rios, but after all that color intensity, when I actually sat down to knit my eyes said no. I actually finally wanted to knit up some vanilla dk weight cashmere/silk I’d bought from Colourmart a few months ago: I wanted plain ordinary white and I wanted to knit that warm, soft yarn, even if it would need small needles and even if superwash merino might be far, far more practical. I’d bought this because I wanted to make this, so, so there.

Grab the impulse while you’ve got it and go.

Hmm. Size 4 was making a great fabric but I learned in one little swatch that my hands needed a little more give, a little bigger loop for that needle tip–and that it still looked fine on 5s. (3.75mm)

My circular 5s were 24″ long. Wait–how, after all these years, could I not have…! Surely I do in some forgotten bag somewhere, but oh well. My 231 stitches were packed in so densely that it was a constant fight to push them along or out of the way. My hands never got to relax nor could my eyes see the pattern coming to be.

There was only one thing for it. I knew who would have the brand needle I wanted.

Yay for repaired maps: this time I found them.

There was not a soul I knew in sight. That felt strange.

But the clerk was friendly, and I bought a skein of supersoft thick wool in the most perfect purple, a semi-instant cowl-to-be. The color won.

She offered to wind it up for me. And not only did they have my needle–they were closing it out. They had one last rosewood 40″ size US 5, and it was on sale and it was perfect and I got exactly what I’d come for. And a 40″ US 4, too, because.

Re the yarn: Sure, thanks!

Which means I had a moment to just stand around, or….

There were two knitters at the table. They invited me to join them and then included me in on the conversation as if I were just as much old friends with them as they were. They told me when they’d be hanging out and that they’d love to see me around again.

I think my transition to Purlescencelessness just eased a bit.



Some pictures
Tuesday July 05th 2016, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS

In progress, and done.

A close-up including of one of the dark spots at the center.

I think the variegated-purples skein at the end was a bit too much purple, although it was a good transition from the red (and I needed the extra length and I knew Kathryn didn’t have a second bag of Anniversario in that weight.) The mostly-red skein was definitely a sharp transition from the green-purple–maybe I should have alternated pairs of rows of those two for awhile.

But then not a single skein matched another one anyway so why change how I’m doing it now, I kept figuring.

I like the purl side better because of the way the purl bump colors play with their mates, definitely a different effect from the front (see the in-progress photo at the top).

All along my eyes have proclaimed this my Northern Lights project because what else could this be?

And if I were really good I’d knit the fern lace motif again for one more purple skein, unravel the afghan’s cast on, and kitchener the two pieces together to have the ends matching.

Ain’t happening.

Some notes on the yarn: I was trying to arrange the skeins in a symmetrical pattern going across as much as possible. I found the early skeins just slightly muted compared to the others, but for what I was trying to represent that’s fine.

Definitely a fun afghan to curl up with. And warm. Not sure I’d do it again exactly like this one but I’m glad I did it.



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?

Hmm.

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?

Yeah?

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?

Two?

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!