Face up to it
Monday September 18th 2017, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Richard: “I didn’t know it bothered you that much.”

Me: “I didn’t know it did at all either–because I couldn’t do anything about it, so I didn’t let myself think about it.”

In the months after my 40th birthday, life gifted me with a mole on the side of my face. One takes new and uneven dark skin lesions to the doctor, and I did, and got told, welcome to getting older, honey. (Me: at 40?!) The guy was clearly amused that I would be worried about something so ordinary–whereas me, I was trying to take seriously all the advice I’d ever been given on the subject and felt a little put down. I knew I’d had a sunburn as a teen bad enough to bleed if you so much as touched me. Hello Swedish/British/Scottish ancestors, I got me some risk factors. So I came in.

So that was that.

I was at the dermatologist’s this afternoon to get something else checked out. She always notes that one mole under the side of my glasses when she sees me and is always very reassuring, saying that age spots can change shape and size and it sounds bad but it’s not, you just have to keep an eye on them is all.

Today, though, she looked at it and considered it a good moment. “That’s bigger than it used to be.”

“Yes, quite a bit.” With a shape now as if Florida had shrunk in the wash like a cheap sock.

She considered, decided not to biopsy, but asked if I’d like it frozen off and just be done with it? I surprised myself by how vehemently I blurted out, “YES!!!”

Dang, should have done that ages ago. I’d somehow thought it was too big for freezing–but did I ask? No. Duh. Man does it feel good to have my own face back. Yes the process takes a few weeks to work but it already looks better.

And I’m thinking of the optician we saw (on Saturday for the Xth time, still trying to get those new glasses done right.) The one who asked me if I liked this pair here and I answered, “Yes; they accentuate my mole nicely.” He and his colleague next to him totally cracked up.

Now I can tell him they’d made it go poof! See? You go put those dermatologists right out of business!

(Except that then I wouldn’t be able to finish projects in their waiting rooms. Malabrigo Mechita, Whales Road, the second half of a skein drying now.)



Accelerating
Sunday September 17th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

J did a little dance coming out of church today: “And *I* have a cowl!” The other J I gave to on the same day was wearing hers.

I think people are beginning to notice. Which means my knitting needs to go faster. I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re the last one–although, I explained to someone, it’s random, it depends on what I see someone wearing that matches what’s in my stash….

So, twenty down and a bajillion to go.

The Knitpicks yarn came yesterday and the friend’s daughter whose hat it’s for wrinkled her nose when I showed her the other yarn that had looked more pink online but wasn’t and then her face lit up when I showed her the Knitpicks Chroma I’d bought to replace it with–and thank you all for the recommendation.

Someone else, when asked her favorite color, hemmed and hawed and said, Green. …And orange. And yellow. That’s it! Green and orange and yellow.

I think that first hat skein may have just found its rightful home (or even if not that one, once it’s knit up someone will latch onto it. I’ll have to knit it to find out how the colorway turns out in real life.) The stash giveth and the stash cometh quickly away.

Next week is General Conference, which we watch online, which means I have an extra week to pull off a whole lot of–we’ll see.



He heard we had peaches
Saturday September 16th 2017, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Not to brag, but–yeah I am–you want to know how much of a sweetheart my guy is? We had, with the help of friends, devoured every last peach from Andy’s Orchard and I was going through a serious end-of-summer withdrawal on the things.

He drove me to Andy’s. It’s about an eighty-minute round trip. It was his first time there. I wasn’t even sure they still had any, but I knew they would have something good (and they did. Some plums came home too.) He can now vouch for their candied almonds, too.

And then just to make the day perfect, Sam told us the hats arrived today, and of course in September in Anchorage you definitely need a hat. Mathias took the gray cashmere one off his head, his daddy said, and just buried his face in it.

And then the chomp. As one does.



Neck afghan
Friday September 15th 2017, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Spinning

Somewhere between these two attempts at showing the color was the knitting equivalent of reading a big-print book. Next time I’ll spin up fewer plies, but it did the job (on size US 9 needles no less) and got it done in a day. 

Note to self: quick, go run in the ends and block the thing to make an honest statement out of that sentence.



Cerulean
Thursday September 14th 2017, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Spinning

A former law school classmate of my son lives here these days.

I checked: she wasn’t in sight. “What’s your wife’s favorite color?” Quickly followed by an assurance it was okay if he didn’t know, most men when cornered with that question are unsure.

He was sure. “Cerulean.” With a little nod of the chin in emphasis.

Well then that’s what it was going to be. And thus commenced over a week of no-driving-no-yarn-store stash diving and considering. Dyepot? Wheel? I do have some sock weight–it’s just that it’s all mixed in with shades of green. Amazing how uniform my stash was on that count. I know I…

Right. I knitted it all up and I gave it all away.

(They’re a little lighter in real life.)

My back didn’t want to do wheel time and I didn’t want to ply that laceweight but I also didn’t want to guess at getting the right blue nor have to haul that heavy pot around–and then goof.

This was the one sure thing. And not only that, it was cashmere. I had 50g, 50g, and lots of grams. Just one hour. And by 3×2-plying the stuff, it will knit up quickly once it’s dry.

(It’s a little brighter in real life and there’s no purple to it.)

Guess what tomorrow’s going to be about?



Happy Anniversario
Wednesday September 13th 2017, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life,Music

So I had this hank of yarn.

Actually, I had three, in two dye lots of Malabrigo’s Anniversario colorway, which I really really like. So this one skein that didn’t quite match the others decided it had waited long enough and it was tired of being just another pretty yarn–knit ME now, ME! It reminded me that it was Stitches yarn, and not only Stitches yarn but Imagiknit yarn and I adore Allison at Imagiknit and that made it all the more enticing.

But whatever. This. It was not what I had planned on but it was suddenly the boss of me.

I cast on and did the first repeat last night before bed because it’s always easier to keep going than to get started.

Now, I usually turn on some music to knit by because I’ve done so for enough years that it’s become Pavlovian: music. Knit. In time to the beat. To the point that I stop the sound if I want to rest my hands and go do something else for awhile.

The Anniversario was compelling to the point that I didn’t even go fishing through albums to see what to put on, I simply sat down and worked away at it.

Mid-afternoon I suddenly realized I’d been half-listening all along after all. Just one song. Over and over again in my head and waiting for me to notice. And in the moment I did I suddenly realized what it was and how very long it had been since I’d heard it.

From the musical that I saw in high school–in Ford Theater (yes that Ford theater: “But other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”) Scoring tickets for it was a big deal at the time and there was a group of us kids that went together.

Godspell. The song, beginning as a small voice barely discernible calling from afar, drawing nearer and nearer: “Pree-ee-ee-pare ye the way of the Lord.”

In that moment I knew for sure this one was not for me no matter how much I love it–and that felt wonderful.

Picture taken in the early afternoon, two-thirds of a cowl ago: and it is finished.



Red is the color of food
Tuesday September 12th 2017, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Family

Just as I reached for the raspberries at Costco my phone buzzed with a  new photo.



Storms and hummingbirds and hats. Not in that order.
Monday September 11th 2017, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

Started the first hat for the foster kid but the dense black was spun so differently from the blue that even though they were within 10% of each other yardage per grams-wise, in real life there was no way to have the number of stitches work: either the black would be too big for the kid’s head or the blue in the next stripe too small to squeeze into. I would have known this in a heartbeat had I seen them in person first. And this, kids, is why we support our local yarn shops (when we can get there. And it wasn’t Webs’ fault; I didn’t ask.)

Meantime, the yarn I’d ordered for the other girl was felt to have more orange than was quite ideal (per the mom, after I asked her to be honest about it) and so I ordered her the Chroma from Knitpicks as you guys recommended. I want these kids to love what they get. I really do. And I can always use another ball of superwash merino around here.

And for the kid who wanted hers chunky, I went to Imagiknit, as one does, and ordered some Malabrigo Mecha, which is probably what I should have started with in the first place.

And now on a completely random note, I always wondered if a hawk would ever bother trying to catch a hummingbird, given how much work it would be to chase such a speedy little not quite amuse-bouche. The answer is pretty much not only no, but that hummingbirds seek out hawks’ nests to nest near themselves: because jays are big predators of hummingbird nests and Cooper’s hawks are big predators of jays. More details here.

I now understand better the photo Eric of the peregrine falcon group once gifted me with, showing a hummer buzzing near the matriarch Clara’s face while she looked on, bemused.

And in other wildlife news, we had a young squirrel on the fence today, staring: too young, apparently, to have ever seen water fall out of the sky before and he didn’t quite know what to make of this concept of randomly getting wet or what he was supposed to do about it.

I remember telling my kids when they were young that in my growing up, there were warm summer rains that would clean the air on a hot muggy day and cool things down a bit. But the rain itself. Rain was supposed to be warm and inviting in the heat of July or August.

I got scoffing disbelief in response. Mom. It does not rain in summer. Two, rain is always, always cold.

And yet today, at long last, we had a hot muggy summer day–and it rained. It wasn’t quite a warm rain but it was close enough to prove the possibility. Thunder and lightning, too (a little too close) and then the rain. We had a good old East-coast deluge, briefly, so much so that I even turned the computer off, wondering if the lights would go out. We have never had the lights go out in a storm in all our years here but you never know.

It let up. I turned the computer back on. So of course then it started again, hard.

And again, it let up and then started in again.

A fourth round pounded the roof after dinner.

For a grand total of (roll the drums) .1″.

Oh California. Thank you. You tried.



Seeing red
Sunday September 10th 2017, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Another impromptu-on-Sunday story for you.

In the morning, I put the red cowl that a friend had requested in my purse. She’d seen it in progress and had been looking forward to it. It was an exact match to her favorite skirt.

And that was going to be it, given that I spent the week spinning for the most part and didn’t get much knitting done.

But. There was another one in a worsted-weight merino, a little thicker, superwash, thus nice and practical when you don’t know how it’ll be treated later, and also red. I’d made it awhile ago and had wondered who it was for and then had put it aside and forgotten all about it. It was just waiting, is all. My brain damage can’t walk around in that shade without worsening my balance but I still liked it enough to knit it. I figured it would tell me soon enough.

Somehow it was right there front and center when I went to pick up the other cowl and it leaped out of its ziploc: you need to take me, too!

Okay, I was game–and curious.

We have an elderly friend who spends half her year here and half her year near her daughter Marie near Seattle. She comes when she comes and goes when she goes and I never quite know when that’s going to be.

Marie had come with her mom to help get her settled back into her old house. And so they were both here.

Marie exclaimed over me, as glad to see a familiar old face as I was to see hers; I adore her mom and her mom raised great kids.

And in that moment I knew and I knew that that was my chance to give it to her in person: “Do you like red?”

Marie looked at me like, Wait… When you are the person asking that question… But why yes she did, she liked red! (And clearly she couldn’t wait to know what this was all about.)

I reached into my purse barely looking down and the worsted-weight one came right to hand. Which meant I didn’t have to apologize if she liked the slightly different shade of the other better; neither one of us had to know. Besides, Malabrigo makes nice wools. Really nice.

Up in the Pacific Northwest, she told me in delight as she patted its softness after putting it on, even in summer she often finds herself with something around her neck for that extra bit of warmth. She loved it. (And then given that it was a 90F day here, she took it back off for now. As one does.)

The kicker is that there was no sign of the friend the other cowl had been promised to, and I’m going to try to deliver it during the week. But what it did this morning was to help me see it wasn’t enough and that somehow I needed another red.

I just had to say yes so I could find out why. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I took both.



Just about grown into it
Saturday September 09th 2017, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Family,History,Knit,Life

Start the day with pictures like this and then a FaceTime chat with a little one who wonders what you’re doing being a flat person interacting with him from a screen and everything else just goes right. (Hat done in 2×2 ribbing for stretch, Malabrigo Rios yarn.)

An article on American-made superwash wool: it’s a new thing as of the last half dozen years, and all because the military needed a good, fire-retardant material. An interesting read.



Shrinkage
Friday September 08th 2017, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Spinning

When does 2263 x 4 = 1013?

When it’s 4 plies from 2263 meter cones twisted together plus 4 of those plies twisted together minus those new 2 yarns plied together, the strands traveling around and around and back around each other and the result measured in yards.

Not all the cones were that length but the ones I finished off tonight were.

Now, one tries to get the two original bobbins to the same length as humanly possible so they’ll match up. But still. Twenty-three inches out of 172 yards? I’m going to brag a little. (This time. Till next time.)

My friend Karen yesterday observed, You’re using your wheel.

I handed her some of that finished, scoured yarn to fondle a moment–and then she understood why.



Worth the trip
Thursday September 07th 2017, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Karen (who’s gone there with me once before) : You want to drive towards the fire? To all the smoke?

Me, confused: LA, Oregon–the skies are hazy but they’re certainly not close…

Karen: The fire! In Gilroy! Don’t you read the newspaper?

Me: Huh. The online version, other than Sundays. But I just was on the Merc’s website and there wasn’t anything about a fire in Gilroy.

Karen: Well, it’s all over the physical paper!

Me: (Went and looked. Didn’t find it at first. You had to follow a certain path: home page/local/county (get the right county)–oh THERE it is. Yow!

And so we waited a few days while the firefighters firefought. And then today, with her driving this time (because, life) we finally made it back to Andy’s Orchard.

Where they still had peaches after all. Fairtime and the well-named Last Chance, enormous and beckoning. Homegrown cherry tomato for scale.



Gale force
Tuesday September 05th 2017, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Life

CVS already has flu shots in stock. Given my being sent to the ER the first week in September a few years back with a severe case of the flu and all the cascading autoimmune effects from that, and the kid coughing behind me in church on Sunday suggesting that the flu is out there early again, I jumped at the chance and Richard took me there after work. He wanted to wait a little later in the season so his dose would last through the spring; my take on it was, weighing the certainty of being immunized now vs the uncertainty of maybe having the dose wane later–I’ll take certainty, thanks.

My arm is slightly sore. That is so much better a thing to have to live through. And I will be one less person passing the germs along that would make the next ten people sick, and the next hundred from them, and the next…

Meantime, everybody in the path of Irma, my prayers go with you. Stay safe. I wish I could fix that danger so easily.



Begin: the rest is easy
Monday September 04th 2017, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Spinning

Mom! Something’s wrong! That thing is noisy!

He concurred: It is, dear.

Oh. Sorry, guys.

So I oiled the wheel and they and it still squawked. I told them I would take care of the rest as soon as I finished this bobbin so I could oil the shaft it was on. And that did it.

This morning I was looking at some cones of near-white 30/70 cashmere/merino (link correct now) and palest beige merino that had been bought to help me finish off some very old stash of brown cashmere laceweight single ply that was far too thin and fragile to knit as is. Last night I had set four cones together and considered how they actually looked together. Today they didn’t want to be admired, they wanted to be plied, now!

Plans vs inspiration: having wanted to want to work on this for some time, now that I actually wanted to do it, do it!

I weighed one of the cones of the near-white cones after the first hank was all done to see how much of it I’d used up in the plying. I loved how much more interesting it made the light browns look. (And I can always overdye the result.)

Wow. Looks like I could make probably twenty-five hundred more yards of aran weight. Let’s see how long the enthusiasm holds out, but I won’t stop till I’ve got an afghan’s worth.

Meantime, thank you for the suggestions on the yarn for the girls’ hats. I spent a lot of time thumbing through ideas at Webs, since mobility is still a dicey prospect, and they have just about everything (snagging the domain name of yarn.com early on in the internet surely didn’t hurt.) I finally bought something that, if it isn’t enough colors, I think I can make do from stash.

And while I’m making headway on lots and lots of pale brown, soft, quiet, practical, (and, shhhhh–boring, don’t tell), those colorful hat projects in the middle are going to help me plow through.

Her friend’s wedding done, an airport run, and now it is just us two again.



Stash busted
Sunday September 03rd 2017, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The foster mom told no secrets: but when I said most fosters don’t even have a suitcase, just a trash bag to take their things in, she nodded emphatically yes, glad that someone knew. When I said that hat clearly must mean a great deal to Alex, she gave me an even more emphatic yes. I explained its having been so poorly sewn on the inside and why it risked popping out the last of it as Alex grew and showed her what I’d done to try to save it.

And I said I wanted to knit Alex something out of colors and fibers of her own choosing so that she would have something that had been made just for her.

Leaving church, I happened to turn around at the very moment Alex was getting her hat back and the little leap for joy and dance she did as she put it back on her head. She had it back! It was fixed!

I liked that. I liked that a lot. For her sake. This wasn’t a kid who moaned over its never looking quite like new again, she celebrated that this had been done for her. Like I say, she’s a great kid.

That family went home and the girls drew pictures of their dream hats they hoped for, with the mom promising to pay me for them, (not wanting to ask me simply to just go do more than I’d offered) with me answering that thanks, but that would take all the fun out of it–I want to do this for them and they’re happy about it and that’s all I need.

Of *course* I should have instantly realized her bio daughter needed one, too, as a bonding thing with her new sister as well as for her not to feel left out with the changes in the family. Yow. I’m not usually that slow, my apologies, that was a blindingly obvious need and I’d utterly missed it. Well, okay, so we got that taken care of.

I really liked those drawings (and hoped the colors came through true in her email) and the details offered. They’d really thought about it. Alex wants thick yarn and a fold-up beanie in stripes of vivid blue and black.

Two skeins of yarn and an excuse to go to a yarn store, I can handle that.

Her sister wants medium yarn and eleven narrow stripes: medium blue at the bottom, then purple, light blue, orange, medium green, dark pink, light pink, light green, light blue, peach, and a smidgen of light purple at the top. All the cheerfuls.

And me with my darker colors and little-boy stuff. And that bit of leftover Great Pumpkin. I could easily blow a couple of hundred on the one hat.

You know (even though the mom said they didn’t have to be) that they have to be knit in a machine-washable merino–so the kids will be warm (staying in California long-term is by no means a sure thing for them) and so the hats will survive any inadvertent trip through the wash. Having kids help with the laundry should always have only good results, especially with something like that.

So. Does anybody know of a soft self-striping superwash worsted-weight merino yarn in a colorway like that? Or two, that I could switch back and forth between? It would be so cool to be able to totally match what her mind saw.

Alex’s, too.