Blue horizon
Friday June 15th 2007, 12:46 pm
Filed under: Knit

blue horizon scarfAbout time for some knitting content around here. This is a scarf I knitted yesterday using just one repeat of the body of Nina’s shawl. I used one strand of baby alpaca I’d dyed in a bright light blue and one of Jaggerspun Zephyr merino/silk in royal–I liked how the two colors played together, and they grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.

It wasn’t till I was nearly done that I found I’d dropped a stitch at the beginning. Normally this would be a disaster–but since the yarn is doubled, the loops from the other color running through it will help anchor it in place so it won’t run. (I will, however, go back with a mending strand and tuck it a bit out of sight there.) One stumbles, the other keeps it steady and keeps the pattern going. There is so much poetry inherent in the simple act of wrapping wool around wood.dropped stitch

It took me awhile to figure out why those colors had so grabbed me: Nina herself is at Camp Stitches at Asilomar right now, at a gorgeous spot looking over the ocean. Sky and sea–and here I was, knitting the two as one without being consciously aware of why those two shades had wanted to dance together. Cool.

Meantime, my LYS got a case of 36 books in yesterday, and when I showed up for my knitting group last night each one had been sold or spoken for, and they were scrambling to go order more. Nina called to report that the LYS down where she is had sold out instantly as well. You all don’t mind if I brag happily, do you?

Rachmaninoff’s a stretch
Thursday June 14th 2007, 3:08 pm
Filed under: Knit

Russ and Robin’s CD “The Hancock Brothers”I signed onto the Knitlist for the first time about eight years ago, specifically to ask if anyone knew of any music-themed laceknitting patterns. I got lots of responses of no, but if you find one, let me know. (I am determined I am finally going to come up with one for my next book.)

We went to a concert a few nights ago; there were two superb pianists, one a dear friend of longstanding, the other his brother visiting him, and two grand Steinway pianos had been brought in just for the occasion. (How you borrow two Steinway grands, I’d love to know, but never mind.) The eldest very much carried off the staid, calm, older brother shtick, and Russ–Russ is a showman. Russ is someone who once demonstrated how simple it was to play Bach, at a concert I went to a few years ago, by holding three oranges in one hand, two grapefruit in the other, and playing a piece I knew well totally note-perfect. These two grew up playing in USO shows as kids, and they’re good.

So. If only there were a DVD. They started in on a Rachmaninoff piece dear to my heart: I was slated to play it at Peabody Institute in Baltimore at a Maryland State Piano Competition in the late 70’s when I was a teenager. (Something in C minor, c’mon, brain, help me out here on the title. BUM. BUM. BUHMMMM!! Yeah, that one. You know the one.)

Rachmaninoff had huge hands. If you’ve looked at pictures of me on this blog you know that I emphatically do not. An octave plus two? There was no way! My piano teacher, a onetime concert pianist and a quite-petite woman, told me, oh, just skip the notes you can’t reach.

I could not play that thing the way it was supposed to be played. I could not do that thing justice. It was supposed to sound bombastic, and the thing was impossible to do right. I argued, I practiced like crazy, and in the end I rebelled and refused to play it there.

So here Russ and his taller brother were starting in on that piece, and I instantly wondered how Russ would be able to reach those notes. The other, yes, but… Russ actually talked first about the size of Rachmaninoff’s hands, and traded some sibling barbs with his brother over the issue for the crowd.

They started off in unison, a huge sound on those two huge pianos. Then the showmanship kicked in. Russ made an act of getting frustrated over getting the BUHHHMM!s Russ’d, leaped up from the piano as his brother continued on, walked off the stage, walked back across it carrying a large wooden board and a circular wood saw–giving his brother bunny ears as he went past him–and disappeared off the stage to the other side. Sounds of loud sawing suddenly offstage; the big brother acted oblivious. Finally, Russ came back on with his board with, basically, popsicle-stick-equivalent fingers added on, and sat back down at that second piano.

It was the BUM BUM BUHHHHM! part again. Russ put that board over the keys and the popsicle stick pieces played the entire, superstretched chord perfectly. He put it quickly up on top of the piano out of the way, and continued. Back to that chord–grab the board–play!

It was hysterically funny. The older brother calmly pretended not to notice, but if it took an extra quarter of a beat for Russ to grab that board fast enough and get it down there, the brother, eyes on his own keyboard, kept right in sync with him.

I can just picture Rachmaninoff up there, going, BRAVO!!!

Try to live up to that performance! Hey wait–I get it. All I have to do is go knit a plain sweeping swath of stockinette, go borrow Russ’s circular saw, and whirr a treble clef stencil out of the thing. Done!

(Note: if you want a copy of the CD, contact Russ at , skipping, of course, the four superfluous words in the addy.)

It almost says it all
Wednesday June 13th 2007, 3:12 pm
Filed under: Knit

If I had designed this, it would have had two more words added at the end, and then it would have been the utter truth, at least in my experience: the words, Great Yarns sweatshirt“for others.”

Tuesday June 12th 2007, 12:42 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort"

I’ve been asked about booksignings.  The kickoff is to be at my friend Karen’s shop, The Rug and Yarn Hut in Campbell, CA, next Saturday, June 23; we’re scheduled there from 1-3.  I will be showing off shawls and talking about the book and reading some stories from it.  I will try really hard not to be  screamingly nervous on my first try at this author stuff, but if I open my mouth and absolutely nothing comes out, I’m sure my friend Nancy will jump forward and read it for me.  Thanks, Nancy.  Then, Commuknity, in downtown San Jose, 6:30 Thursday, June 28.  On June 30, Saturday, I’ll be at Marin Fiber Arts in San Rafael at 2 pm.  (I’m not sure yet how to post these in the sidebar, so I’m putting them here for now.)  Purlescence Yarns in Sunnyvale, CA, at , has offered to ship copies that I’ll inscribe for people who buy from them–they will start taking orders after their copies come in.

I’m planning on going to Stitches East in October, for that Friday and/or Saturday: my husband and I are from Maryland, and it gives us an excuse to go home for a visit.  Rhinebeck the week after is being debated.  I expect to be at TKGA in Oakland in September.

I have a huge request to make re booksigning events: I’m on permanent chemo and am extremely susceptible to catching anything, and anything that wakes up my immune system wakes it up to fight me.  So I’m asking that people err on the side of caution for me re colds and the like.  (I hate having to say that!)  Thanks.

Alright–on to the book!  (Hurry, hurry, mail system, get those copies out there!)

Book Day!
Monday June 11th 2007, 12:40 pm
Filed under: Knit

Today’s the day! Martingale is releasing my book, “Wrapped in Comfort: Knitted Lace Shawls” today. At last. I wrote it, I knitted every stitch (and then some), and they put it all together into a beautiful book, absolutely beautiful; I can’t tell you how pleased I am with what they did with it.

So, a little while ago, after trying to figure out how to knit a thank you without asking them the relevant questions, I finally sent off a note, cc’d to my two editors: Tina, you go ask Mary her favorite color for me. Mary, you go ask Tina. Color, and also shape. Don’t tell the other I asked, okay? It’s a surprise.

They told me they’d laughed and figured there was no way out of this one. (I just need to get myself to the post office. They’re done.)

One said pink. I can do pink, definitely. The funny thing is, when we went to take this picture, I didn’t even realize, when I picked up that little bunch of buds that had fallen off the bush there, that I was holding it as if to knit it. Hey, if there’s a way to knit a bush, I’ll figure it out.

Martingale didn’t pose any of my circular shawls quite like this, preferring to make sure you could see each one as clearly as possible–the shaping, how far around it reaches, etc, but this is how I tend to wear them. The smaller ones, or when the temperature warms up, I wear V-neck and open down the front.

One of the things I tried to do with the book, in giving the weight of the yarns used, was hope that people would feel comfortable using whatever brand and whatever fiber they personally have fallen in love with, rather than what I did. Take what you love and go play. Tina’s shawl

Homeward bound
Saturday June 09th 2007, 12:23 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

(For those coming here from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s site, scroll down, the two posts before this one, they’re there, plenty to see, plenty to see, move along, move along.)

I got the surprise of my life last night. The son-at-home and hubby were set to go to a fathers’ and sons’ church campout last night. John said he had to do some shopping for it, threw the sleeping bags in the car, and took off. Meantime, the doorbell rings: the hubby’s 29-year-old cousin, showing up to help spruce up the place a bit. She vacuumed while telling me to sit, sit, go knit, go relax. Do NOT get up to help. Just sit.

I finally called the hubby, after she left, going, John said he was going to do some errands and go shopping but he just kind of disappeared on me and where IS he?! Oh, dunno, was the vague response, he had some shopping I told him to do.

So finally, much later, while I’m kind of stewing–they had to get a move on if they were going to get to this campout thing on time, this was not a day for the hubby to be working late, they close the gates at Foothill Park early–I hear a voice behind me as I sit at the computer, going, “Hi, Mom!” I turn around to say Hi John and where have you been?!–and it was my son Richard. Home from college, where he’s been doing spring term, to surprise me, with his dear friend Kim. John and my hubby waited a moment, and then came in the door behind them, laughing: they’d just picked them up at the airport.

I was not expecting to see the kid till August, much less two kids. (She has grandparents in this city she wanted to go visit and stay with, so they came in together.) He carefully waited till my trip to Petaluma would be over, because he knew how much I wanted to go see my friend Stephanie of fame. And then he didn’t even brush my knitting needle sculpture bits out of the way, he was home and the piano was his! (Darn. I already had the tuner coming– *next* week.)

Richard home in June It’s so good to have him home!

More Petaluma, more pictures
Friday June 08th 2007, 3:32 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,Knit

Blue Moon Geisha shawl framing StephanieStephanie looking for her shawl’s patternLaura in Alameda and StephanieThe photos: my Blue Moon Geisha-yarn shawl held up to Stephanie, sock style.  Or, at least, it’s there in my drafts.  Hmm.  Anyway.  Stephanie looking for her pattern as I put my knitting bag down; I’m wearing the Michelle pattern from my book, done in Sea Silk in the Teal colorway, which had custom dyed by Handmaiden after I requested it. Laura in Alameda with The Sock. Stephanie arriving.

Okay, here goes. Stephanie arrivingThe bookstore had everybody waiting in line outside for hours, but I told them, I don’t do outside–I’m an indoor cat. Right now, my lupus goes after my eyes when I’m in sunlight. Oh, well, no problem. They let me wait inside, which was very nice of them, and all was fine.

Stephanie greeted me with a smile when she came in, and then the biggest hug when it got to my turn in line. And then several more hugs before she let me go. It was so good to get to see her again–a huge shout-out to Jasmin, who drove (three hours up, two hours back), and Nancy, who rounded out the carpool. And Patricia and later Faye, who met us there.

I knew it was Stephanie’s booksigning, not mine, but I also knew how excited she’d be: she had cheered me on during the process. So I showed her my author’s advance copy of my book, and she was exulting, YOU DID IT!!! She flipped through it, asking if her shawl was in there; it is. The Monterey one there, I’d knitted that pattern up for her; she hadn’t been allowed the time in all her booktouring to go see the Monterey Bay Aquarium, so I’d knitted the Aquarium into a shawl and given it to her. I showed her the original jellyfish-and-seaweed one in the book. She was exclaiming, Oh, cool! Look at this!

At one point a little before that, while she was signing and I was waiting for the pre-boarders to finish up, (she always lets the moms with little ones and those with physical needs go first), my friend Laura in Alameda, who’d been part of the standing-room crowd, found me. Laura is a friend that, four years ago, I knitted her a cashmere lace scarf and gave it to her at Stitches: her reaction was to crow, “I get to say I knew you when!” I thought that was so funny! But she believed in me that I would write that book someday that I wanted to, long before I completely believed it would ever happen. We’d been trying to meet up again ever since, with one failure after another. I had no idea she was coming yesterday. So here Laura suddenly appeared out of the crowd, coming over as I stood up in wonderment to greet her, and we threw our arms around each other in thrilled exclamations. Stephanie watched with the very happiest smile on her face: our happiness was her happiness. I adore both of them. And then when Laura was having her book signed, Stephanie recognized her name, and exclaimed, “You’re Laura in Alameda? I know you!”

I got to see Rosemary of, the person who, when I said I wished I had a shawl pin that looked like a treble clef, immediately created one. Guess who got the first one? And then she insisted on holding my book while I snapped her picture. Wait, this was Stephanie’s booksigning, not mine!

And a good time was had by all. Stephanie’s signature

Rosemary of

Friday June 08th 2007, 9:25 am
Filed under: Knit

petaluma-020.jpgThe resident geek and apprentice geek are still working at fixing this computer, and today for some reason it’s not reading pictures; I’ll add them later. I mean, these are pictures you have to see! (Okay, got’em now.)  Meantime, two friends of mine and I drove up to Petaluma yesterday to join the hundreds coming to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee at her booksigning.

It was amazing how many people took pictures of the crowd. Maybe we’re all trying to convince the subsequent venues they’ll really need all those chairs? There’s this sense of, this is our Stephanie, she is a force to be reckoned with, WE are a force to be reckoned with, now, you all take good care of her.

One of the things she mentioned was how her brother-in-law, who works for Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, sent her an email gushing over what a good job she’d done when she got her fellow knitters to raise $15,oo0 awhile ago. Uh, well, we eventually did better than that: when she decided she wanted to double her total that by then had gotten to $120,000, she asked us all to consider how well off we are–no matter how poor we may be by our neighbors’ standards–and to help take care of those with far less.

She met that goal in 72 hours. Seventy-two hours, $120,000, and it kept going. Her brother-in-law, then, stunned, went, how do I…how do we replicate…how?…

And she said, when we knit, we are doing a small thing, one single loop after one single loop, and seeing how it adds up to the whole. We see the power of those individual loops, we live that, over and over and over. When it comes to donating to Medecins Sans Frontieres, we don’t give up, thinking the problems are just far too much bigger than what we can do anything about; we each add our little bit in, and it adds up and up and up.

I have said it often, I will say it again here: there are no small acts of kindness.

And go, Stephanie!

Not to mention, happy birthday, kiddo
Wednesday June 06th 2007, 12:40 pm
Filed under: Life

Having just written about the best doctor on the planet, here’s one that makes me all the more grateful to him, given the contrast between the two.

Twenty-three years ago today, I picked up the phone and asked the nurse which doctor was on call today.

Mind you, I had never said a word to anybody there about how I did not like one of the partners, but she shot the question at me, “Why? If it’s the wrong one, are you going to go out of labor?” I hadn’t even said I was in labor, but I hesitated, and then answered truthfully, because, well–it was the truth! “Yes.”

And that is why my son missed being born on my father’s birthday yesterday. Sorry, Dad. The wrong one had been on duty the night before.

That one–okay, there’s this medical axiom: if you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras. So when I told this OB that I was experiencing episodes of near-fainting, he decided that well, obviously, with a history of familial diabetes, I had gestational diabetes. Horses. He sent me to a nutritionist, who put me on an exceedingly strict diet and had me return to her once a week with a chart documenting every single mouthful. It was not fun, but I did it, and was proud of myself for sticking to it.

I told that doctor that I was following all those instructions, but I was still having those episodes. He questioned me: was I really following it? Yes.

And then he told me flat out to my face that I was lying.

He did not once actually check my blood sugar. He did not once do a urinalysis. He did not once pay attention to my blood pressure readings, which were very low (and would, much later, grow into full-blown dysautonomia). He did not once order a glucose tolerance test. This is just what he’d seen, over and over, this is what I must have, and anything to the contrary wasn’t believable to him.

And that is why my son was born the day he went off duty. I can be stubborn that way.

Okay, enough of the kvetching. Read on to the next post about the doctor who made a tremendous difference; that one’s far more important. Except for the real point of writing this one, before the zebra carried me off on a tangent: happy birthday, kiddo!

(P.S.: Some kids, when they leave home, their moms take over their rooms. This household, I take over theiramaryllis jungle bathroom. No contact solution here, nothing to see, move along, move along.)

What he did by who he is
Wednesday June 06th 2007, 10:41 am
Filed under: Life

I wrote the following as a comment yesterday on the blog of a doctor who was talking about the headline of the day. I lived this, I wrote this, I own this, and I decided I wanted it here, too. This is not to downplay the importance of my family nor the nurses at Stanford four years ago, but this was a crucial moment that changed everything. Everything–writing this blog, my site, my book, my patterns, my other manuscripts, the things I’ve knitted, the things I’ve given, everything I’ve done of myself in the last four years, not to mention getting to watch my two youngest graduate from high school and go on–came from what happened that day.

Quality of life has zero to do with what you can physically accomplish. It has everything to do with how much you are able to give and receive love. The end of life is a time that can bring great healing and a lifetime of comfort between a patient and those around them--or not. When people get upset that their loved ones are suffering, what they don't realize is that what they're really upset about is that *they're* suffering, having to watch it happen. They're empathetic, and caring, and mean the best, but they don't have the blessing of having to directly and personally experience the failures of the body in the process, where there's this sense of great triumph simply in being alive the next day, still with your loved ones, no matter how crummy you feel.

I write this as someone who was once dying in a hospital bed--and my doctor walked in in the middle. I looked up at that kind, deeply compassionate man, and knew that he would blame himself for the rest of his life if I didn't make it. I couldn't do that to him. I had to pull through. Breathing through that night was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I did it. Because I was loved, not only by my family, but by someone whose needs transcended my own to me in those particular circumstances--because that good man loved a patient he didn't even know well.

And THAT is quality of life.

Some mo’ yed-dy bears
Tuesday June 05th 2007, 1:08 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Several years ago, we were having some work done on our house, and one morning I noticed that Chris, the contractor, had his dog sitting in the bed of his pickup while he was working that day. We have a fenced yard, and I asked the guy if he’d like to let the dog run back there and stretch its legs? Sure, he would love that! While he was working, he saw me working at my spinning wheel and asked me a few questions about it. You really spin your own yarn? Yes. So the next day, it being summertime, he surprised me with a small bag of very soft white fur he’d combed that night from his Samoyed. Very cool!

Chris had two small daughters, three and four years old. I spun the fur up into a ball of 2-ply yarn, went out, bought a pair of small teddy bears, and knitted up soft, white, fluffy teddy bear sweaters for them.

But. One of the things you do when you spin is rinse the skeins to set the twist, and I went to wash any doggyness out as well, although, Samoyeds make an exceptionally clean yarn that way. But when I got the yarn wet!

“Chris!” I asked him when I saw him, apologetically, but, um, there was a problem. “Did your dog get skunked?”

He was mortified. “Yes, but it’s been a couple of months. I tomato-juiced her, I…” Poor guy. Totally put on the spot, when he’d been trying to be so nice. The dog hadn’t smelled when he’d combed her, he’d made sure of that!

“Just don’t let those teddy sweaters get wet,” I chuckled, and sent him off in great hopes that his little girls would treasure their surprises.

I was googling the other day, looking for a local supplier of cocoa in quantity. I’m no longer interested in buying it by the 50 lb bags like I once did–that’s a blog post in the future–but 5 lbs, sure. We do enough chocolate decadence tortes and hot cocoa from scratch around here.

Somehow C&A Builders of San Carlos came up on that cocoa google. Huh? Hey! That’s Chris! So I shot him an email saying hi, and he in return emailed me a picture of those two teddy bears side-by-side. He mentioned that his girls were teenagers now. (How on earth didChris’s Samoyed teddy bears they get that old?!)

I can’t tell you how much it meant to me that they’d still hung onto those bears. The dog passed away a few years ago, and her fur is still there to remind them of a great dog and friend of their childhoods.

And if you live in my area, and want a contractor who’s a nice guy, who takes great pride in a job done well and in great honesty, I know just the one.

Happy birthday, Dad!
Tuesday June 05th 2007, 12:07 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis

Looks like we’re back from the hard disk crash. Alright!

My dad has always, for as long as I can remember, given my mom an amaryllis bulb for her birthday in December.  This year I get to offer this picture of an amaryllis that is blooming right now for my dad for his birthday, in June-of-all-months, when they supposedly are out of season.  Happy birthday, Dad!

aphrodite amaryllis

Cocoanut Grove
Monday June 04th 2007, 2:09 pm
Filed under: Life

Only in Santa Cruz.

We had a friend graduate from a school teaching traditional Chinese medicine, and the ceremonies were held yesterday afternoon at a beautiful old assembly hall a block or two from the school.

That it was to be in Santa Cruz, we knew. What we weren’t expecting was that it was upstairs in the building at the end of the kitschy old boardwalk in Santa Cruz. The noise from below was well muffled, except for the incessant vibrations at our feet from the busy arcade on the ground floor.

Yet such a grand old place. The carpeting was an endless look-at-me swirling pattern that so much reminded me of the matching dark red and gold one in the luxury apartment my grandparents had had in Washington, DC when I was growing up. That same old elegance. There was a huge mirror above the long, steep staircase, with a poster in the middle of it with a list of the Big Bands that had performed there between 1931 and 1964: Benny Goodman. Artie Shaw. Merv Griffin (Merv Griffin? I had to go look him up later. Huh. Learn something new.) The assembly room was like the forward portion of a boat, with a curved line of windows looking out on the beach, the seagulls floating on air right in front of us, the fog rolling in, the waves coming towards us, the sunbathers below, although you had to go right up to the windows to see straight enough down to see them. The sailboats were bobbing gently in the water, some close, some stretched further on out. Such a peaceful view. I understood why they’d chosen the place.

And then, the ceremony: native Chinese medical teachers mixed with one from Sweden and a few others, traditional Chinese pronouncements of the meanings and elements of the earth, then greeting each graduate with a hug, American style. I loved it.

I had asked my friend whether it would be okay to knit during the proceedings? She, a knitter herself, said, sure! While lamenting that she herself had probably better not. So I did, and when it got to where I probably wouldn’t have time to finish another long row on my shawl project, not wanting to stop mid-row, I reached for a new ball of yarn and needles and began a scarf that I could put aside more quickly: on bamboo yarn. Glancing at my stash that morning, I’d thought, what could fit the day more perfectly?

As we left afterwards, I had to laugh: we came out the door at the bottom beneath the very pink wall you’ll see if you look at the Wikipedia entry on the place. Picture the beach goers, the Santa Cruz free spirits, and us: my 6’8″ husband with his tall hat to try to keep the family skin cancer away, white Oxford shirt, dark wool dress pants, and me in my Sunday best, a blouse and linen skirt with a pink circular lace shawl on. I’m sure we looked almost Amish by comparison. We were somebody else’s weird California look-and-point. It was suddenly very funny. Only in Santa Cruz! We fit right in.

He took a pounding
Saturday June 02nd 2007, 11:56 am
Filed under: Non-Knitting

Still no pictures, you’re stuck with just the stories for now.

I was reading coming from Emergiblog’s Grand Rounds; the blogger writes of her response to an emergency situation in front of her, and how wonderful to find out, much later, that things had turned out much better than she’d feared. And she wonders at the people who saw and simply drove on by.


California’s Prop 13, years ago, meant that most of the schoolbuses got ditched; there was no longer the funding for them. The end result is that schools that were designed for a line of buses instead have hundreds of parents dealing with getting their kids to and from each school on their own every day (but I digress). There was awhile where I had kids in elementary, middle, and high school, and I was doing the daily mad dash at 3 pm or so collecting them all.

One day for no reason I could have said I turned right rather than left off my street; that’s certainly the long way around, and it made no sense. I briefly debated doing a U-turn, but, eh, it was a beautiful day, and it felt like, well, all the more time to kick back and enjoy the scenery as I go. How about if I cut through the neighborhood to shave off some of that extra time I just piled on with that turn–nahhh, just keep going all the way to the main road.

Which meant that I happened to be coming up the road the middle school was on in the opposite direction from my usual. Which meant that I saw the two boys.

Now, one of them I recognized immediately, though I had no idea what his name was; I’d seen him since kindergarten, and I knew which mom connected with that kid. He was the one spraddled out on the sidewalk. The other on top of him, who knows, but he’d overpowered the first, was astride him on the ground, and had his hands grabbed on the other kid’s head, pounding it hard into the sidewalk.

They were just barely out of sight of the school. And car after car of parents was driving right on past them. I was as stunned at that as I was at the kids’ behavior.

My happy-go-lucky day was abruptly over, and I jerked my car off to the side, on the opposite side of the street from them. (Where, I realized later, I had the power of parental authority and my lack of physical authority wasn’t evident.) I leaped out of my door, unable to reach them for the passing cars, but screamed at the top of my lungs, “STOP THAT!!!”

They both leaped to their feet and away from each other as if they’d both been caught in the act.

“STOP THAT!! AND DON’T YOU *EVER* LET ME CATCH YOU DOING THAT AGAIN!!!” They were already heading for the hills, in opposite directions.

I was so mad. What a stupid, stupid, adolescent-boy act of testosterone poisoning. Didn’t they know the seriousness of it? Hadn’t they ever been around anybody with any kind of head injury? What did they THINK they were doing!!

I stayed thoroughly mad for about an hour. Glad that both boys knew I could identify them from Back To School nights, (glad that neither knew that I had no idea what their names were. Let them stew.)

Gradually, it dawned on me: I had gone the wrong way. I hadn’t cut through the neighborhood. I had just continued down the path that would bring me to that spot at that moment. And someone’s clueless 13-year-old sons grew up–they’d be 23 now–because I did.

Computer no werky
Friday June 01st 2007, 1:17 pm
Filed under: Gauge Swatches

The last 24 hours involved trouble-shooting on our 6-month-old Dell PC. Pictures here are stuck till that machine’s going again.  Just kind of squint and see if you can make out a half-finished pink shawl and a gorgeous double-blossomed amaryllis (I’ll add them later).

I went to my knitting group last night and showed off two shawls: the original from the book, and the one I’d just finished.  Same yarn.  Same pattern.  Same knitter.  Same size needles (different pair, though–I used one particular pair of size 9s exclusively while working on that manuscript, and right now it’s driving me nuts that I can’t find them).  One shawl is slightly but noticeably looser and more free-flowing than the other.  One of my friends kept going, are you sure?  Same yarn?  Same…?

Yup.  You know how Stephanie Pearl-McPhee says that gauge swatches lie?  Well, here you go.  Here’s a whole shawl as a gauge swatch, compared to the other shawl.  I think I was just more comfortable with the pattern on the second shawl and relaxed and it shows?  Or, maybe I was in more of a hurry to get it finished?  One possible and quite likely variable is if I let the water boil too hard while dyeing the first one, in which case the baby alpaca might have shrunk down to a more dense texture.  Which it does look like is what happened–and which makes sense, because that particular one got dyed more than once, so it was cooking away for more than twice the time overall.  (You’ll have to read the story in the book to see why.  I know, I know, that’s mean of me, I’m sorry–10 more days till it’s out.)

This doesn’t let knitters off the hook; you still need to do those swatches.  I learned that after a test knitter whom I hadn’t given an idea of gauge to took one of my early patterns and knitted up a somewhat tight cape, a third narrower than my matching shawl.  It was beautiful, and you could wear that just fine, just, the effect was quite different.

The other computer, meantime, is telling me to go to Dell.