Under the apple tree
Saturday August 11th 2007, 8:27 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

This is the first year we’ve had a good crop of apples on our Fuji tree I planted awhile ago: I crumbled egg shell bits around the base of the trunk in the spring, and the snails couldn’t climb it at night to eat the blossoms. The next thing to watch out for is the squirrels, who like to arrive just before the apples are ripe and pick one, eat one bite, throw it down, and try out the next one till they’ve gone through and stripped the whole tree, looking for that one perfect Fuji. Everybody’s a gourmet in northern California. They get the hormonal twitch to eat big, thinking winter’s coming, in a climate that doesn’t get cold enough for them to ever hibernate, and in the feasting processBigfoot shawl in Hardtwist Petite in Jellybeanz some of them grow to the size of small cats. It can be amusing to watch the telephone lines sway under their weight.

There’s a metaphor here to Stephanie’s worries about a “wool blight,” and how one must gather up all the wool yarn one can jam into one’s closets, under one’s bed, and down the arms of whatever jackets the kids have grown out of/haven’t grown into yet for storing it. I plead guilty, at least to the closets part.  But then, that means I had just the right shade of green for Erin to choose from when I offered her her choice out of four or five giant balls of the green baby alpaca I had, to get her started knitting; I like to call it my yarn library in there.

Lisa Souza’s new yarn, Hardtwist Petite in superwash merino wool, two balls, my Bigfoot pattern. It’s sproingy, a yarn with good tensile strength, and practical for a new mom who doesn’t have time to worry about the fragility of laceweight.  The little overall splashes of color–well, once she starts feeding her baby in a highchair, she’ll understand why that belongs in her shawl.

African River Otters
Friday August 10th 2007, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

African River OtterThe Monterey Bay Aquarium has a new exhibit, and I’d like someone to explain to me why the young African River Otter, after zooming past an obstacle in the water, stopped and head-butted the sandy floor. I think it was one of the male twins they said had been born in the past year. Meantime, a larger one on land above him stood on its hind legs, eyed the crowd with his white whiskers making him look like an aging champion, and pumped his paws high in the air, Rocky Balboa style, twice. We were totally charmed.

And watching them cavort, it hit me: water ferrets. My brother once mentioned to me that he hadn’t been emailing much lately because his new pet ferret was entranced at his typing, and would scramble onto his shoulder every time and take a flying leap onto the keyboard.

I could just see these doing that, just pleading with you, type me a river. Water ferrets.

Thursday August 09th 2007, 10:37 am
Filed under: Knit

My daughter’s friend from college came out to visit us, spend a few days sightseeing, and then they’re driving back to school together.   We were all sitting around talking last night, when I picked up my shawl project and started knitting away, eyes barely glancing at my project.  After awhile, she said, “You know, I should be doing something too.”  She knew how to crochet; and now, with some baby alpaca to help keep up the enthusiasmErin, she knows how to knit!

Cabin John, Maryland
Tuesday August 07th 2007, 11:57 am
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

Judy, I found this: http://carderock.net/carderock.html which has one very badly-worded sentence about 2/3 of the way down on the first page about the naming of Cabin John, although, the history on that page is fascinating: for instance, the first settler who stayed and farmed in the area was the great-grandson of a man who arrived in Virginia Colony as a Scottish prisoner of war of the Cromwell government. I did not know that any of the colonists were POWs.

The site does explain something I never knew about the rock quarries on River Road: they were used for building the canal! Makes perfect sense, but I never knew that nor that they were so old. When I was a kid, we were strictly forbidden to get near them; those steep rock faces dove straight down.

I believe the stone entryway of the house I grew up in came from there… (Dad?)

Here’s another, from cabinjohn.org, giving the various theories–the folklore about a hermit was the story I grew up with–saying that Captain John Smith was the first to explore that part of the Potomac, and that Cabin is probably a corruption of Captain. It says, “The following is a description of the Cabin John area as recorded by Captain Smith in 1608: ‘The river … maketh his passage downe a low pleasant valley overshadowed in manie places with high rocky mountain from whence distill innumerable sweet and pleasant springs … Having gone so high as we could with the bote, we met divers savages in canowes well loaden with flesh of beares, deere, and other beasts whereof we had part. Here we found mighty rocks growing in some places above the ground as high as the shrubby tree .’ ”

I went looking for the CD of photos my friend Karen (of water turtle fame) took, to add to this post, but haven’t found it yet. I now know one place I want to point my camera when I go home to Maryland for Stitches East: I want a shot of that quarry. And the tiny stone house, the old innkeeper’s lodge at Seven Locks Road, that is the oldest building in Maryland, next to that quarry.

I can’t wait to go home. I’m so glad I have Stitches East in nearby Baltimore as an excuse.

Once in a blue moon
Monday August 06th 2007, 11:54 am
Filed under: Knit

I was talking to Tina Newton of Blue Moon Fiber Arts on the phone the other day. (How’s that for name-dropping and borrowing some coolness factor. Go Tina!) I was just curious… Among other things, I had bought a skein of Rock Creek-colorway bamboo yarn to play with and make a scarf; that wouldn’t be named after…? Would it?

She laughed, and said, “There must be a Rock Creek in every state. But, yes.”

I grew up next to Cabin John Regional Park. My husband, in the next town over, grew up two blocks from Rock Creek Park, which runs a very long way through DC and along the DC/Maryland line. Tina had named this colorway after that creek. Turns out, she grew up two miles down the road from where I did.

It’s a delightfully small world out thereRock Creek bamboo.

If a tree…
Saturday August 04th 2007, 2:57 pm
Filed under: Knit

If a tree falls on a house, and nobody hears it, is the roof still damaged?  (Actually, I don’t think so.  I hope not.)neighbor’s tree fallen into ours

Friday August 03rd 2007, 12:15 pm
Filed under: Knit

Two in-progress top-down circular shawls I’m doing. On the left: Lisa Souza’s Jellybeanz colorway in baby alpaca, which I’m knitting for me to match the socks Jasmin gifted me with, and on the right, the same dyelot done in Hardtwist Petite superwash merino sock yarn. The colors are brighter and the splashes more pronounced in the HP, and with this particular merino, the background is a tad yellower than the baby alpaca. I had not thought of the alpaca one as being pinkish till I put the two together.

The Hardtwist Petite is sproingy, bouncy, resilient, soft, and with the superwash aspect, it’s practical for where it’s going. It can get sneezed on, tripped over, you name it, and the recipient won’t have to worry about its being too delicate to touch. Plus, it’s just plain pretty, and would go with a whole lot of clothes.

I think I need to go buy some speckled jelly beans to put in a jar to send with it when I’m done.

jellybeanz shawls

What Nancy knitted
Thursday August 02nd 2007, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Knit

When Nancy showed me these two colors she was thinking of putting together, I wasn’t quite entirely sure. Jaggerspun Zephyr in this slightly mustardy orange and this brighter, deeper-orange Gentle supersoft superthin merino laceweight from The Yarn Place. But knitted up! We blocked it at my house yesterday, and she picked it and me up to take to Purlescence for knitting night tonight. I wish I’d gotten a shot of it on her, because the Zephyr just glowed golden within the orange, especially with its silk content and in the rays of the late sun. It was as if she were wearing those rays themselves. It was absolutely stunning on her.

Colors are like people: they can bring out the best in each other, sometimes in surprising ways.

Nancy’s shawl from my pattern

Thursday August 02nd 2007, 11:14 am
Filed under: Life,Non-Knitting

“Do NOT call into a disaster zone. Email them.”

Yes, dear, I know. We live in California: it’s a given that you’re supposed to have one out-of-state person that everybody knows to call to hear the news. Things happen here. But Minnesota? Who makes plans like that in Minnesota?

My husband’s aunt’s house was a half mile from the epicenter of the ’89 Loma Prieta quake. His grandmother called and woke me up at 4 am, trying to get word on her daughter. I groaned to him, hours later, “Your grandmother got the time zone differences backwards!” I was later told she’d been dialing the phone all night. She kept saying to me, over and over, “I couldn’t get through! I couldn’t get through!”

I’d had nothing I could offer by way of comfort; we hadn’t heard either. Turns out that, although the house was trashed, her daughter and her family were okay. There were even funny stories: like the electric shaver, attached to its cord, that bounced across the bathroom, down the hall, down the stairs, into another bathroom, and the wall landed on the cord. Great. Now, just how do you lift it off it to get it out again? Um…

My husband got his ham license and his Disaster Services Red Cross certification after that. Next time the lines were down, he would be able to help get the word out.

New York. My brother was able to call the folks. My cousin, at work a half block from the Towers, got the word out the next day about seeing the planes hit and walking miles home. Leigh Witchell from the Knitlist and I spent two weeks trying to track down any word on Madlove Gina; turns out she’d just quit her job in the Towers and gotten a new one in Jersey. Hated it. Wanted to go back. When 911 happened, she did go back–as a volunteer, to help, knowing that people she loved were in there. Anything she could do.

There were New York shopkeepers who stayed put as the endless streams of people walked past them out of there, handing out water to strangers in need, over and over. Heroes. They didn’t decide it was too many people for them to be able to make a difference; they made a difference.

Email. Do not overload the local phone lines, let the people who need them most immediately, the ones who are right there, have them. Wait. I waited.

Dave was away on a business trip. Wanda was feeding the kids dinner. I don’t know if that trip had anything to do with it, but they did not cross that bridge a few exits down the highway to go to the Twins game. There is a guilty relief that the people I love are fine, but it doesn’t lessen my compassion for the ones who can’t say that. My heart goes out to Minnesotans.