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
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!
(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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Stitches, day two
I got off to a later start than I’d intended. Because I was walking down the hallway towards the front door when I looked up.
It’s been at least two years since I last got to see a pair of Cooper’s: the female picked herself up forty-five minutes after hitting the neighbor’s window, by his account, but she was never seen by any of us again.
Today, looking up through the skylight, to my very great surprise, there they were, two gorgeous raptors at the tipsy-top of the silk oak next door towering over that yard and ours, swaying in the flimsy uppermost branches, one flicking its tail for stability from time to time, the sun shining directly on their orange chests. King and Queen of the Mountain.
They were courting. Wow! I called to Richard to come see, too, and he came immediately, but before he could get there the two hawks dove thataway in perfect synchrony.
At Stitches: the brother-in-law of the Antonio I know introduced himself at the Malabrigo booth. He was thrilled with his new scarf and insisted I take some of a new test yarn they had.
He had no way to know that his apricot matched the color of the chests on those beautiful hawks just earlier. So perfect.
Allison at Imagiknit was wonderful as always. If you ever want to know what Malabrigo’s up to next, her store is their American flagship.
Susan at Abstract Fibers and I connected again today; I adore her and oh my, such beautiful dyework. She sent me off with some Valentine.
Kris and Mel and Ben and I chatted some more.
I went back to the Cephalopod booth, where I had almost…almost…and then stepped across into Karida’s space yesterday and away from her temptation, but I told the woman, “That skein haunted me all night. I had to come back and get it.”
She was amused and surprised and gratified. “It haunted you?”
“It haunted me,” this time picking it up with no intention of letting it go back on that wall. The Rainbow Gum Forest photo I’m seeing on her page doesn’t begin to do it justice (it’s the skein at the bottom of my picture), but I can only hope I will.
I bought some baby alpaca from Lisa Souza. I always do. I always will. With silk this time. I wanted so many of her yarns that it stumped me and I just bought the one in Joseph’s Coat.
Teresa Ruch had some tencel in the most intense, shiny shades of deep rose that was probably *the* most elegant skein I saw at all of Stitches. But laceweight tencel is not my thing. I had thought it was silk, and I put it back, quietly disappointed.
We talked a little, and I told her of a bamboo blend I had made into a shawl where the bamboo had been slippery–and it had quite easily snagged way out to here. And then some. (Like, a foot.) I can fix such things, but yow it was a bear and it had made me highly reluctant to try bamboo again. Granted, the openness of the lace had probably contributed to that, but…
She took that as a challenge: she showed me how hers was spun and why it thus wouldn’t be likely at all to do that. When I told her that I knew bamboo could be from the inner or outer part of the plant, that that affected softness greatly–and it’s never labeled as such and you have no way to know, she joined in with me on the last part of the sentence and affirmed as I ended with, unless you feel it in person.
And with that she decided she wanted me to be convinced enough that she pressed some of her 4 oz/227 yard hand-dyed turquoise in my hands, a lighter color than many of hers are, a bit of purple added in, a beautiful yarn, and asked me to try it out.
I so wasn’t expecting that. I certainly will.
Stitchsisterz had round balls of 100 g/400 yards of cashmere for $25 that was perfect as the carry-along strand to a likewise-fine baby alpaca/silk I’d wanted something to go with–and as I paid for it, the second woman in the booth scooped a copy of my book out of my basket and without even asking the price looked at the one printed on the cover and handed me $25 right back and would I sign it? Um, twist my arm? Thank you!
Jimmy Beans Wool was across from Lisa, and I wasn’t even going to dare look–but that one colorway of Madeline Tosh yarn required I go over there to see closer up. They told me that MadTosh had custom-created Technicolor Dreamcoat for them.
Twenty years ago I knitted a Kaffe Fassett coat in 68 colors that my husband called his Technicolor Dreamcoat. Or sometimes his Joseph’s Coat. Are we sensing a theme here?
I just got the one–really trying to be good this year, honest–and it was showing at the top of my bag as I sat in that chair as I wheeled around and I had random people asking me repeatedly, WHERE did you get that?! (Which also happened when the Valentine’s was at the top, and when the… It’s all good, all of it.)
I later said to Kris, “You can go to your local yarn shop and maybe find a yarn that almost, almost is exactly what you want. Then you come here once a year and you can find”–and we said it in unison in both word and arm-sweeping gesture, “EVERYTHING!”
Then as Richard and I were taking the scooter apart at the curb cut, some random woman in the deepening dusk saw by the last of the light and from the convention center the Wanda’s Flowers shawl I was wearing and exclaimed over it. Really exclaimed over it. Like, this was the thing she had been looking for all day type of exclaiming over it. Richard said, “Yeah, it’s one of her designs,” as he hoisted the scooter up and in, as I said, “Yeah, it’s Lisa Souza’s yarn” (thinking in the moment that that’s what was so pretty. I was wearing it in her Foxglove color, baby alpaca.)
The woman looked just speechless that we were leaving, and that shawl was going away, and she would never find it again, and and and, and I said, “It’s my last day, I’m not coming back,” (as I told Mel and Kris earlier, I’m too Mormon to shop on Sunday–they laughed) and I whipped out a copy of the book, read her nametag, confirmed the who to, signed it, and handed it over to her as she stood there stunned and speechless and happy and trying not to lose which page that shawl was on. I was pretty sure she’d be able to find it again.
And we rode off into the very last of the sunset.
The first Babcock peach blossom, opened today as expected, and the other two peach trees. All in a year’s growth.
I finished the aqua silk shawl, I finished the aqua silk shawl! With about two yards left on the cone while the last pattern repeat was over 5000 stitches. So close. I would have liked to have done at least an extra row knit plain at the bottom but I just didn’t dare chance it. Good thing I stopped.
And…I came into Purlescence late tonight.
I had made a blueberry cake (with a little fresh-squeezed Meyer lemon added) for Valentine’s breakfast tomorrow, and I’d been waiting for it to be done before I could go.
I pulled it out of the oven with one hand with a toothpick in the other to test it–and that’s when I found out the oven mitt I’d grabbed had a spot where the insulation had worn through, and in my sudden scramble to get Don and Cliff’s pan to the stove fast before I burned my hand any further, I tripped over my own foot.
Now, it’s a running joke here as to which of us is the klutzier, but I think I took the cake on this one. I called out to Richard to come and see, because it was funny if nothing else: a third had landed in a clean saute pan on the stove, safe! Some of course had landed on the stove, but most stayed more or less inside the pan, even if not quite arranged the same way.
Four cups was a lot of blueberries–it was supposed to be three. I goofed.
He came around the corner in a hurry, wanting to help–just as I, while trying to finally put that cake pan the rest of the way carefully down, managed to flip the handle on the saute pan, blueberry shrapnel suddenly firing right at him.
He said something about how he could only make it worse and backed out of there fast.
Tomorrow we shall beat a tasty re-treat on this thing.
I know the old name for these cakes was blueberry buckle but I don’t think that’s what they intended.
Starring Audry Nicklin
Thursday January 16th 2014, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Knit
(I forgot to ask if I could take her picture. I didn’t get one at all. I was having too much fun talking with her and her mom.)
When we kids were young and our family traveled all around the country one summer with a camping van, I remember how fascinated we were by the vastness of the western sky, how bright the stars. How many! (And how strange it was to see multiple lightning strikes going on way over thataway in the middle of the desert in New Mexico. Lightning. With no rain. The sky playing solitaire.)
My younger brother eventually enlisted Dad’s help and built himself a telescope, a pretty big one, too, and I remember him showing me part of the sky through it and what that was and that was–and me being a teensy bit jealous that my little brother knew more and cared more about it than I did. Loving what you’re learning is a powerful thing. That’s one of the pulls of knitting, too–you can never learn it all, it keeps you going.
I was remembering all that fondly tonight as I looked at the shawls, just gobsmacked, wondering how she kept so many minute details so perfect, verified too by a delighted astronomy enthusiast who happened to be there tonight.
Audry Nicklin and her mom were at Purlescence with copies of Audry’s book and her knitting spread out across a table. The secret garden socks are worth the price alone. (But I had to let it pass for now–still catching up after those house repairs.)
What is on Ravelry but not in the book, though, were the two bright blue Madeline Tosh-yarn shawls. (And one in gray, knitted a second time.) Celestarium and Southern Skies: the night sky as seen from the northern and the southern hemispheres, with yarnovers and bright silver beads marking the stars making up the constellations. There’s Orion. Tauris. Polaris at the center here, working outward to… Wow. Just, wow!
Audry will be at Stitches Friday Feb 21st at Purlescence’s booth. Go, go see those shawls if you get a chance. And Audry, too; she’s a peach.
And then the Ipaid
The after picture, then the before one again–just amazing.
The guy pushed the button, that home page popped up for him, then he turned it around to where I could see it to show me the work his hands had done today. He clearly had been looking forward to seeing the look on my face and it is safe to say he was not disappointed.
My knitting, meantime, had been stumbling for a few days over a puzzlement in a pattern I’d been creating.
After dropping the Ipad off for repairs, I went to deliver a project a half hour north I’d done in superfine Malabrigo Finito. I’d been waiting for Kathryn‘s vacation to be over; I knew there had been two funerals in her family since Thanksgiving, and making her something as soft as possible from yarn from her shop had felt absolutely compelling. And now after all that happened in our own family in the past month, finally I could get it to her!
She was disbelieving. Thrilled. She’d even put on an outfit this morning that totally matched it, and I went home and dove right into the next project. That’s all it took. After a good start on that I put it down, eyed the problematic piece, finally knew what it needed and got on with it. Kathryn did me a great favor that she had no way to know about.
The new project will be the carry-around mindless one that I knew I was going to be needing tomorrow and had been trying to push myself to begin. And now I have–with more Finito she gifted me right back with. It makes me happy to look at.
I waited for the call.
It took two and a half hours and the going rate of $129.95 plus tax for the parts. My sweetie was ecstatic to see how perfect his Ipad looked again so fast.
And we are good to go.
Michelle looked the best she has since the accident. Still, yes, and all that, but, I can’t tell you how hopeful and helpful it felt to see her today.
And then I was off to Stanford.
You know you knit a lot when you see someone in scrubs with a stethoscope and name tag and for a millisecond your brain assumes those are just covering up the first two letters before the r and the n. And then you guffaw silently at yourself and think yeah right, tell me another yarn.
I eventually got told I needed my Purlescence time so, twist my arm, off I dutifully went. Got there quite late and there was a good crowd for the evening: Juanita threw her arms around me as I walked in and I quite squealed in delight at seeing her, afraid she’d already moved away but no, there she was, saying, I told you I’d see you again! Kevin had his portable piano, songbooks had been passed around, people were singing carols, smiles around the room at the happy greetings.
And then there were secular songs. Then silly songs, with a few more sacred ones thrown in near the end. Juanita sang a solo and it was amazing to hear. The city of Paris recently did and they want her back, so, back she’s going for awhile.
Good friends giving their best to all. And to all a good night. Made all the difference, and I am so grateful.
Love one another
Sunday December 01st 2013, 12:05 am
Filed under: Friends
(The photo: I went outside to check on things for the first time all week and lo and behold, there was a tomato (!) growing, and when I looked at the photo, no, actually, if you click on the picture you can see there are two. Now? Kinda slow on the bloom-where-you-are-planted thing, since that triples the year’s crop from that thing, but hey, delightful to find them.)
Today was Small Business Day with an AmEx promotion going on and somehow it felt like Cottage Yarns was where I needed to go, dear to my heart as Purlescence is.
It doesn’t hurt that Kathryn stocks a whole lot of Malabrigo and I now knew what I could do with a single skein of the lovely superfine Finito. But whatever. It was just compelling to go.
The rest of that story would be hers to tell, but I’m glad I was there and I hope I did a good enough job of being a friend in the moment.
And I came home grateful for the good health of my parents. Love your dear ones. And Don, you take good care of yourself, y’hear?
I did redo the cast-off on yesterday’s. I blocked it. Now it is what it was meant to be: ready.
Susan at Abstract Fibers once gave me some Burnside Bridge colorway wool to play with, and I did; I liked it so much I bought some in Picasso, their baby alpaca, via Purlescence.
And that’s what I plowed halfway through today.
And in the middle of it I got the emails–I need to finish it and get it out of the way fast.
It happens to so many people. It’s so personal. My cousin Bruce’s wife Paige found the lump the mammogram reading had missed and had a double mastectomy yesterday. Three tumors, at least two lymph nodes look involved–and yet, I know someone else who came out of surgery with that kind of news where the pathology report a week later said one tumor only was malignant. And that friend is past the five-year mark now.
Eight to twelve months of treatment ahead.
And I am blinking, trying to figure out what the very softest yarn I own might be and what color it should be. And no, the above projects, nice as they are, aren’t it. Hmm.
For my grandsons’ new cousin
Thursday September 19th 2013, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Family
I was asked at Purlescence tonight, So last weekend was the weekend? How did it go? Did they like the baby blanket?
If every knitting recipient reacted the way Hayes’s parents did, I answered, yarn stores everywhere would have to completely restock every week.