She was a shoe-in
Tuesday May 21st 2019, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

In the Mormon church, they try to keep congregations small enough that they stay personal. If they get too unwieldy they get split.

Trying to remember if I mentioned this… The ward we were sharing a building with no longer fit in the chapel while ours had lots of renters, and with Silicon Valley landlords raising rents through the roof a lot of people have been moving out. We shrank.

So after quite a bit of work at finding the best solution, a chunk of the other ward got moved into ours, and we’re talking eighty people. On my self-appointed project of knitting something for every woman, I had after three years finally gotten to where I only had to knit a cowl when someone new moved in. Now… Well it’s going to take me awhile. Again.

Someone came up with an idea of how to give each of the women new and old a chance to tell a little about herself: she threw a potluck dessert party at her house and told everybody to bring a shoe and a story about it to introduce ourselves by.

Which turned out to be a really cool way to let the shy and the extrovert both feel at home, so I’m mentioning it here in case anyone else ever needs an icebreaker idea.

One mom of two small boys tried to let the turn go past her, and almost got away with it but we went back to her.

She confessed she had forgotten to bring a shoe. But distracted and forgetting, she shrugged, that was the life she’s living right now with small children.

The room was full of moms and people who love other people’s kids–the laughter was warm and understanding, and she sat down clearly feeling warmly welcomed.

Which was the point.



Two skeins
Monday May 20th 2019, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Knit

Last row of the repeat: I blacked that line out extra thoroughly when I got done.

As for the work, it will stretch and curve out as it comes to weigh more and once it hits water. Right now it’s either 7″ long or 9″ with a slight smoothing out or who in the world knows once I get done. But, bigger. Definitely bigger.

Had a brief scare where the upside down V in the chart suddenly looked like a right side up V to my brain and I wondered if I’d just done three+ days of work wrong by misreading it? Those are very very different instructions, decrease two vs increase one. But no, the stitch count was still 30 per repeat.

Don’t DO that to yourself! (I did get it right the first time, but by the time I figured that out I was going, well if I goofed it worked so I’m going to keep doing it that way.)



Physicist’s knitting
Sunday May 19th 2019, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Knit

Knitting used to demonstrate physics and to work out things such as new plastic surgery techniques: here. (New York Times link.)



Knitted till the hands had to stop
Saturday May 18th 2019, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Ten skeins to a bag of hand dyed Malabrigo Rios in Hollyhock, 07 07 07 dye lot, one skein down, four inches. Granted, the non-seed stitch area will take the yardage further, but that’s still going to be well short of what I was shooting for. I was afraid of this and looked for extra skeins at the time but this was all there was of it.

My understanding is that each bag is its own unique dye lot. I’m going to need to go looking for a close match and then alternate rows of the two when I do.

No luck at Fillory, either.

Still, it’s definitely a better problem to have.



At last at last at last. Thank you Carol!!!
Friday May 17th 2019, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,LYS

First, I want to thank those who tried to help me online.

A few days ago I spent an hour carefully knitting–and then ripping back, one loop at a time–a single row, the 279-stitch first pattern row of that baby afghan.

So I thought I’d ask Holly for advice, but we had so much to simply talk about and catch up on in each other’s lives that it just didn’t factor in. It frankly would have felt out of place to interrupt with something so mundane.

Plus I knew I had Friday afternoon as my backup plan. That’s when Carol and Krista would be at Green Planet Yarns/now called Fillory under the new owner. Surely, if anybody…

There was an open seat by Carol. I pulled out the yellow third Barbara Walker treasury and asked if I could ask for help. Sure! (I looked behind me: the little table where the old version of the shop had had a consultant whose time you paid for was gone. I’d never needed that but I would have been happy to on this.)

I told my friend, I have counted this every single way one could and it doesn’t work: you can’t knit a three by three cable with seven stitches!

The gleam in her eye–she knew what she was about to do and how it was about to feel for both of us.

But you can, she told me: you go back and forth past a center stitch.

I looked at the book. “How? You can’t have an odd number between.” I didn’t see anything other than a normal 3×3 crossing. Everything was symmetrical, there was no wobbling from an extra stitch nor from one side not being cabled when the other one was. “You do need that extra stitch further up in the pattern, but not at the bottom. Right? So the count should adjust for that, right?”

She wished for a cable needle. I reached into my purse for one. She took up my knitting and pointed at the book and showed and told:

“See that one square that’s outlined darker on the chart?” (It was at the sides, where the repeat began and ended.) “That’s the center stitch. It doesn’t move.

Now. You put four stitches on the cable needle and put it behind. Not three. You knit the next three stitches from the left needle, as one normally does; then you knit the first stitch on the LEFT side of the cable needle, then the other three right to left like normal. That one stitch stays at the center between the two sides that way.”

I had never heard of nor seen such a thing. Not that it was hard. It had simply never occurred to me.

“And it would make it so you have the right number of stitches for the lacework above that cable.”

“Right!”

Then she had me do it, too, while I only just managed not to grab it right out of her hands to instantly try it the nanosecond she was done explaining.

I felt a great kinship with my old friend Monica, the longtime knitter who almost yelled, That’s IT?!! when I showed her how to do a simple cable and how all cable work was a riff on that.

I had wanted to knit page 146 for–well, I’d had that book for twenty years. Only for the baby on the way had I finally wanted to enough. Only for her had I gotten to where I could, with Carol’s help. It was so easy. I had been so stumped.

“My granddaughter-on-the-way thanks you.”

“Your granddaughter-on-the-way is very welcome. It’s funny how we have gaps in our knowledge,” said Carol happily.

And then, with the help of a great teacher, suddenly we don’t. We don’t at all. We are all filled up and brimming over.



She made these
Thursday May 16th 2019, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Friends

I love a good dish towel. I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned such a thing, but Holly’s been here enough times to notice.

So guess what she surprised me with?

There were roses, daffodils and tulips, carnations, morning glories, purple dianthus. I have flowers hanging over my oven doors right now.



Ten bars and a bit of extra
Wednesday May 15th 2019, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Holly’s coming tomorrow.

If I needed an excuse to start a batch of chocolate, that was a good one.



Seeds and dirt and magic
Tuesday May 14th 2019, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Garden

There was this big Costco planter that had gone empty. (You have to drill your own holes in the bottom. I did, way back when.)

There were these veggies I sowed in January.

Now, before you start thinking that I’m one of those bona fide gardener type people who starts things in winter like that, those were seeds I’d bought two years earlier that I finally got around to trying. I figured if I didn’t do it then, then I’d spend another whole spring procrastinating and then buying whatever leftover straggly three-pack last-chance tomato variety showed up at Costco and call it done. Again.

All those little packets of hope begged for better.

I was a little surprised at how many still came up.

I’m guessing the tomato that’s filling out that planter must be a Big Boy because it most definitely is one, dwarfing even the ones that are in the ground.

Those with the purple stems will be the Basque Blues, right? Sherlocking here.

There were a couple that were obviously more Sungold cherry tomatoes so I gave one of those away yesterday already covered in flowers and fruit, because with my 2017 one still going at it we have enough. Someone else is getting one, too.

The zucchinis were chosen because they promised not to grow to baseball-bat size. Um. When they get as long as my fingers (and I have short fingers) they yellow and shrivel and give up the ghost. I picked four nice green ones tonight that seemed to be as big as these were going to get and for the two of us, sliced not much bigger than a green onion, two each made a small serving.

Who ever grew zucchini as a garnish?

Meantime, with all the rain this winter, the Santa Rosa plum is giving us the best year it’s ever had by far.

Tonight we start in on two new winter-heavy storm systems and we’re in for some real rain. Not normal, but free water in May? We’ll take it.



Peregrinations
Monday May 13th 2019, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

I haven’t mentioned the peregrine falcons all season and the San Jose ones are about to fledge.

Video taken today here, a few baby feathers hanging on as the eyases look over the edge and see some of the world outside their concrete outdoor hallway, with everything new.

Photos from when they were banded last week here. Two males, one female.

And the afghan? I started in on that pattern.

Goofed, tinked back all 279 stitches I’d just done, put the project back in its ziplock, and decided to let it breathe for a day. Discovered a ninth pomegranate on the tree.



The moving fingers, having writ…
Sunday May 12th 2019, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

Jean was at church! After a month in the hospital. She was surrounded by family, some local, some that had flown in to help her celebrate Mother’s Day.

I showed her my phone and grinned, “This is your fault!” It was the picture of the pomegranate flower on this part of the tree, and (scrolling) the baby pomegranate. I reminded her of the time she’d shared hers and how revelatorily good they were and told her that’s how I came to plant my own.

As I spoke, her son-in-law sitting between us was typing my words into his laptop in a huge font to make sure she got every word. Her daughter-in-law leaned forward, loving this, looking to see Jean’s reaction.

Jean looked tired but happy. “You’ve got a green thumb.”

I am so grateful I got that chance to show her she’d made a difference. Again.



The picture-frame stitch
Saturday May 11th 2019, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

(Needle at left turned sideways in search of a 90 degree angle.)

There’s this cabled lace pattern I’ve always loved but it only came charted and my brain injury doesn’t do charts.

After twenty years of owning the Barbara Walker charted patterns book anyway (because: Barbara Walker), this time I wanted to make page 146 enough to confess my shortcomings to a group of knitters–who instantly came to my rescue.

I swatched it. What was my problem. (!!!) This is easy!!

Before I could get started, though, the baby afghan was going to need a border. Garter stitch would match some of the inward pattern–but garter stretches laterally and the cables were going to shrink the width every so many stitches and I could just see the rippling–the top and bottom would never lie flat. Ribbing might distort the edges the other way by pulling them in too much.

So I went for the tried and true, even if it is my least favorite to knit: 1×1 seed stitch. Twice the motions for the same length of fabric and hard on the wrists, but it makes for a perfect picture frame effect around just about anything. Even if it absolutely devours yardage. I bought the whole bag of ten Rios skeins but I may end up trying to match my Hollyhock dye lot.

Knitted stitches are wider than they are tall, so ten rows is not enough to match the ten side stitches that I’ve set the thing up for: I’m not done. My hands definitely are for the night, but, I’m finally getting started!

I’ve got it. I’ve got that Barbara Walker Lacy Cables pattern and for my granddaughter-on-the-way’s sake I’m finally going to do it.

With a little help from my friends, and I can’t thank you all enough.



About 30″
Friday May 10th 2019, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

This one is towering and glorious. Thank you, Dad!



Parfiankas!
Thursday May 09th 2019, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

The Yamagami Nursery guy’s favorite variety.

Somehow I completely missed them before today. I had been a little disappointed that my pomegranate had decided it needed a full third year’s growth before producing anything, unlike my friend Jean’s that gave her enough to share at two years old. She couldn’t remember what type she’d bought but they were so good that I’d bought a tree myself and I’d hoped I could compare with her and maybe even see if I could find the name for hers thereby.

She’s 93. I’m in a bit of a hurry.

I’m sure she bought a bigger, potted specimen; my four-inch-sleeve one was, um, cute, the last one they had, and given how flimsy the branches still are it made sense that mine wasn’t ready.

Plants flower most where the sun shines brightest and every day I’ve been looking out the window at the new leaves across the top of the tree behind the barbecue grill, wondering when it was supposed to flower and wishing for some sign that it would.

So someone explain to me how it is that they were all tucked away at the bottom and underneath, so out of sight that even with those colors I didn’t see anything while watering the thing? How did I miss these? They were all on the morning-sun side, at least.

Because this evening I discovered bright orange petals on the ground, a few flowers still on the tree–and a few actual tiny pomegranates! Eight in all! Richard, Richard, guess what, we get to taste our new Parfiankas this year after all!

Jean’s been ill these last few weeks. Something to look forward to will be a good thing.



Hinged
Wednesday May 08th 2019, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Knit

Deb’s generous offer had me wondering: maybe that’s something we could do with this old leather-hinged kindling box we inherited? Make it an owl box? I don’t know enough to know if it would work; obviously, you’d need an entry hole the right size. Would the slats rule it out?

Meantime, this morning a ball of bright turquoise Rios threw itself at my hands and demanded to be knitted. Now. I have not a clue why, but I did. My yarn is the boss of me again, and it feels good that it is. 



Brazen
Tuesday May 07th 2019, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

I have now seen it for myself.

I once read an article that said that New York really has few rats for a city its size and the reason why is the rats it has. Norway rats do not climb, they like to go down to the lowest levels of any building or subway station and they are murderous to any rat not like them. Any new type getting off a ship will not live long enough to create a new infestation and that has been the status quo for hundreds of years.

Well they didn’t do their job here. We have roof rats too, which are also an introduced species and like to go up like the Norway likes to go down and the two types rarely cross paths. But when they do the roof rat generally dies in the encounter. Not to mention they’re easier for the hawks to get.

But anyway, it was one of those random sets of facts that sticks with you and I’m glad it did because it means I don’t have to worry if that crazy thing was rabid.

There’s the bird feeder. There’s the usual squirrel hanging out underneath, not liking the safflower enough to try to jump at the thing but willing to shuffle around for the kick-out from the finches above.

A Norway rat–I had to look it up to be sure, but yeah, classic look ya got there, buddy–showed up. And jumped the squirrel from behind!

The squirrel shook it off and looked at it like what the hey? as the much smaller animal ran off.

Next evening. This time the rat was determined and it really attacked that squirrel. It probably thought it could jump it from behind and bite its neck if it could just stretch far enough but there was no way. And this time the squirrel was truly having none of it and fought back, leaving the rat again running away.

That was a few days ago. The squirrels and that unwanted rat have not crossed paths since, deliberately, I imagine. I was hoping a predator had gotten it, but no, it showed up again tonight, about 90 minutes before sundown like the other times. Rats. (Epithetically speaking.)

After chasing it away I pulled the frost covers out and blocked its path so that it would have to go well into the danger of the open yard to get back to the feeder. I know those Cooper’s hawks have been keeping an eye on things.

The best way to get rid of it is to take down the feeders. I’m not thrilled with that idea, either.