I finished it!
Sunday August 31st 2008, 11:43 am
Filed under: Friends,Knit

Kris\'s shawlI finished Kris’s shawl at about 11:30 last night, which, come to think of it, is the same time of day that I finished designing it Monday night.  Kris now knows about it; I’m still paying a bit for the sun exposure last week, so since Nina was at the Kings Mountain Art Fair yesterday, I called her, she told Kris and Mel, my potter friends, and we arranged how to get the shawl to them without my having to be outside.  Kris is ecstatic.  She apologized that she couldn’t pick it up last night, and I was going, no, no, that’s quite alright.  It’s not quite done.  (I can only knit so fast.)

And now it is.  And I can’t show it to you all yet, which gets really frustrating because I’m absolutely a born show-off.  But trust me, it’s blocked now and it feels like one of the most gorgeous things I have ever knit, and certainly one of the most meaningful.

I’m picturing my readers flipping through future pages and then the blog and going, wait–the original was pink? How does that work for a landscape scene?

Um, early foggy dawn?  But then, a shawl is an article of clothing first of all, and this was a good color for her.   And I am very, very pleased.

(P.S. Kris–Lisa Souza sends a hello, old friend!)

Fog etaboutit
Saturday August 30th 2008, 6:03 pm
Filed under: Life

Golden Gate Bridge approaching from Marin side

Coming home from San Rafael yesterday, it was amazing watching the fog blowing in fast and hard in the bright afternoon through the top of the Golden Gate Bridge as we were rounding the corner from Marin, and then on the bridge itself, you couldn’t see the next arch ahead.  These pictures were taken at about 3:45 pm.


More pictures when I get the time to tweak the large ones; I’m under heavy knitting deadline.  Later.3:45 pm in August on the Golden Gate Bridge

Beautiful Marin
Saturday August 30th 2008, 12:15 am
Filed under: Friends,LYS

Whisper from Aurora and Jade Sapphire cashmere/silkThe dryer was having problems. Then the washing machine died.  Glug glug clunk splat.  So I did what any reasonable knitter would do: I went to a yarn store.

And one that was north of San Francisco, for that matter, a good 80 minutes away–if you’re going to run away from handwashing yours and your 6’8″ husband’s clothes in the bathtub, you might as well really run away.   While telling myself that since I only get to Marin Fiber Arts on average maybe once or so a year, there was no point, should I happen to truly fall in love with a yarn there, in spending the whole next year wishing I’d bought it–just buy the durn thing already.  Justify that gas money.  Support that LYSO who is absolutely one of the nicest and best.

This proved not to be a problem.

Note that it was actually Warren’s day off, and he drove over despite an appointment later that was a goodly distance away simply because Robin, who’d come from an hour north while on vacation, and Nina and I, coming from the south, wanted to see him.  (And each other.)  He has a fan club.  He’s a sweetheart.  We took him to lunch and thanked him.

I fell in love with the Whisper merino laceweight and asked if it was Frederikka Payne who was the dyer?  He told me she was. Cool!  I met her in Moss Beach a couple of times, back when she had retail sales.  Um, yeah…when she was closing out a very soft superfine kid mohair for two dollars a ball I bought dozens of balls, started knitting it, realized how really really nice stuff this was and went back and bought a hundred balls more–I mean, you could make a kid mohair afghan, even knitted doubled, for under twenty bucks!  And within eighteen months I’d knitted nearly all of it.  Frederikka definitely smiled hello at Stitches afterwards…  When I asked a question about the Whisper’s ongoing availability, Warren whipped out his cell phone and asked her on the spot.  And now I have a new yarn to go play with.

And I needed something….I was hoping to find something… redwood-y. In the right texture and the right weight, which isn’t easy, because I am very picky about the hand to a yarn.  If it’s not soft enough, I’ll never get around to casting it on.  I went through the store twice before it hit me: don’t fixate on burgundys and rusts.  Look at that Jade Sapphire cashmere/silk in greens in the far corner!

I’d hoped to come home with something really nice, something that would really celebrate Warren’s shop to me.  And with those two, I did.

The good times with good friends, and new ones made, though–that was, as always, the best of all.  A special shout-out to young Gavin, who drove with his grandma-by-love for an hour to get there and then was the sweetest kid you could imagine while we all talked knitting around him.  I asked him at one point who was winning the game he had in his hands, and he smiled shyly and grinned, “Me!”

Nina and Rod joined my husband and me for dinner afterwards.  And a good day was had by all.  (Pictures tomorrow. I’ve been knitting madly, trying to finish something.  It’s late.)

Marin Fiber Arts
Friday August 29th 2008, 9:36 am
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends

I am heading up to Marin Fiber Arts in San Rafael shortly, hoping to be there noon or a little after; I have a knitting friend from my hometown who’s visiting in the North Bay, and Nina of “Wrapped” fame and I figured saying hi to Warren, the LYSO, whom RobinM of the comments and I adore, is a great way to get together while RobinM is here.  In case anybody up around there wants their copy signed.  If you can, come!

Gorilla my dreams
Thursday August 28th 2008, 12:37 pm
Filed under: Non-Knitting

And now, for some comic relief, you have to go read this.  Would that all the bad guys could be caught by guile and gorilla like this.  And ain’t no way I could ever write something this funny.  Wow.

20th reunion
Wednesday August 27th 2008, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

My friend Michelle of the Monterey shawl fame, talking to me once about high school reunions, told me she’d gone to all of hers: that at her fifth, people were still showing off.  Some showed up in limousines.  At her tenth, some people were still finding themselves. At her twentieth, they were the selves they’d grown up into.

I missed my first few, wanting to go, but being thousands of miles away, it just wasn’t going to happen. But I kept saying I was going to my 20th.  Nothing would stand in my way. I would go.  And I did.

It was worth every penny of the airfare: I got to see friends I hadn’t seen since graduation, and  I have kept in touch with some of them ever since, never again to let them disappear from my life.  And I got to see…a guy who had tormented me my first two years of high school, and then after that we had pretty much ignored each other’s existence as we went from class to class.  I was surprised our senior year to find out he was turning out to be an okay person after all, though on my part that was simply a quiet observation from a distance.

And at the reunion, there he was.  I took a chance and called him on the early-on behavior and the torment I’d gotten over the things he’d said, and he apologized.  We’d been, what, fifteen years old then? What had we known about anything?  Twenty years long of needing–well, not needing really, but only in terms of any future interaction with each other–that out-loud reconciliation.  And we got it.  I found myself delighted that he actually lived now not only in the town just north of mine here, but that his commute on his bicycle took him within two blocks of my house here every day.  Wow. Small world. And we’d had to fly to Maryland to find out we were both right here in California.

He’s apparently moved back to Maryland since then, but one of his brothers was here in the area too.  I found out because today the headline screamed about the Cisco executive, such a nice guy, with such a sense of joy in his life, on a business trip to Detroit: shot and killed.  A city street, and, apparently, a life for a wallet. The face in the paper looked vaguely familiar. The name did too.  When I read “grew up in Potomac, Maryland,” I gasped: that would be MY high school!  I turned to see if there was an obit with more information. There was.  He was.  The family’s names.  Oh goodness.

And the only reason I have any right to do what was imperative for me to do under such horrendous circumstances, to reach out with a quiet note of condolence that is going out tomorrow to a widow with two small girls to raise unfathomably alone now, is because I made peace with her brother-in-law eleven years ago.  Even if she could never have known anything about any of that.  I did.

Going to that reunion had given me the right, now, to care out loud.  The note is written and ready to go.

I had no idea, when I was booking that ticket.

Shawl we try again?
Wednesday August 27th 2008, 12:21 am
Filed under: Knit

This yoke idea and that lace in the main body. They were supposed to go together.  All the time I spent over several days  hashing out the yoke pattern,  sure of what was going to come after, I had another idea that kept nagging at me to do next instead, saying all the reasons why it was the right one and why I should ditch the one I was so bent on.

And I kept saying no, no, be a good little lace pattern, go away.  While carefully counting stitches.

But then the one I thought I wanted to use didn’t work.

Upper and lower just didn’t fit together.  What on earth?  I counted stitches again, fifteen ways from tomorrow and it just.didn’t.work. It made no sense.  It was late.  But still.  I couldn’t believe it, and I made some mutterings about math.  And then protested, when I got teased, “But I’m GOOD at math!”  But after spending most of the day yesterday in front of the computer, knitting, writing, editing, frogging, deleting, knitting, writing, editing, frogging, deleting, knitting, writing, editing, frogging, deleting, rinse, lather, repeat, my brain had bugged out and that was that.

That other little pattern, patiently biding its time, pounced on me.  “You know you only want to show off with that fancy-schmancy. You know I’m the right one.  And you know why.  The symbolism is so obvious.”

I do. It was right. It looks wonderful.  It IS wonderful, in a way I can’t describe without instantly giving away who I am knitting it for to that person.  And I can’t believe I even argued with myself over it, it’s so obvious now that I’ve started knitting it.  And it’s a fair bit of fancy-schmancitude itself.

But the killer?  As soon as I decided to go with what is now so patently obviously the right one…

…I saw exactly where my mistake was and how easily the yoke would indeed fit in with the pattern I no longer wanted and that I am really really glad now I didn’t put in there.  Of course they match up!  Piece of cake. Not that that matters now.

You know how I once said my knitting was not the boss of me? You hear it snickering back there?

Perched on my needles for the halibut
Monday August 25th 2008, 6:59 pm
Filed under: Knit

I’ve been knitting all day and I am thisclose to being finally finally past the swatching stage.for fishyswass soup I’ve never before tried to do what I’m trying to do, and one more round and I think I’ll have it.   I feel like I’ve earned my keep on this one.  But I am taking a break and showing off Kris’s fish bowl that ate a fish while I flounder around.

Speaking of which, this must be a young one: it hasn’t moved its second eye to this side yet.

Okay, time to go dive back in.  Tuna in next time.  Same thyme, same sturgeon.  Staging.  Frog that pun and pass the fishyswasse soup.

She couldn’t have known
Sunday August 24th 2008, 6:03 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

My friend Phyllis called yesterday: “Alison! Your favorite potter is at the art fair here, come see her! She’s at the corner of…”

I asked what time the thing ended. Six?  Sure, I can do that towards the end of it.  I went.

Kris saw me and was thrilled: “I was hoping you would come!”  She knew I would understand, besides the fact that she just plain wanted to see me.  She stepped into the shade for me–she’s a good friend–and we talked.

She had a dear friend who was a regular blood donor.  The friend was cooking dinner for her guests coming one day about seven months ago when the phone rang.  (I think Kris and her husband were to be the guests, but I missed part of it there and didn’t want to interrupt to go back and ask.)  It was the hospital, in desperate need of immediate O negative blood, would she come?

She dropped everything, hoping her guests wouldn’t mind the delay, and ran.

The trauma victim who’d lost half her blood was Kris.  The transfusions and superb medical care saved her life.

The hospital had Kris’s friend’s phone number only because she’d donated, and donated often.  One good choice after another led to a lifechanging good moment where it all came home.

Don’t be chicken
Saturday August 23rd 2008, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,LYS

A shawl impersonating a trussed chickenI finished it!  And I can’t really show it off yet, which runs totally counter to the instincts of a blogger, but never mind.  Don’t miss the caption–it’s true!

green beans as junk food?!

Continuing the food theme, I saw these and had to try them once. The idea of green beans being potato-chipified was well into the nonpsychodegradeable category.  Um.  Hubby, day one: “Gaack!”  Hubby, day two: “There’s some left?  Sure, I’ll have some more.”

Make sure there’s plenty of water nearby to help you swallow–trust me.

Meantime.  I told this story last month on my blog, but a lot of people at Purlescence’s knit night on Thursday didn’t know anything about it.  Mary was there for the first time in awhile, so I decided to tell on her generosity a bit and say what she’d done.  And I did want to know if her shawl fit okay.  I told her, if she wanted more length, she had the rest of the dye lot: after the shop had gotten their shipment in from Handmaiden, she had shown up that Monday morning to buy a new skein to replace the one she’d given me. I, not knowing that, had shown up an hour or two after her to buy two skeins to knit her a bigger shawl to replace, you got it, the skein she’d given me.  They’d sold out of the periwinkle fast.  Heh.

She loved it, told me it had been a complete surprise, and that it did fit.  Good! That helps confirm my idea that for a larger size, starting at a wider neckline (row 2 in most of my patterns) and adding length works best.

But the group laughed when I admitted I had two more skeins of Casbah somewhere and I couldn’t find them for the life of me. I knew I had them. I knew where I would have put them.

“You’ll just have to buy more!”

“Twist my arm!”

Next shipment… Maybe I should knit a shawl in the Blackberry colorway, long as we’re talking food here.

Dr. M
Thursday August 21st 2008, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Ostrich Plumes pattern in gray laceweight(Edited Friday to add this picture of an Ostrich Plumes shawl I did in gray laceweight a year or two after theirs.  It too will fit through a wedding ring, hence the name.)

Today I got to see a doctor I seldom see and told him that there were only two people mentioned in my book whom I hadn’t given a copy to yet.  And that I needed to fix that.  I hadn’t referred to him and his wife by name in there, I said; last page, second paragraph.  I was a brand new laceknitter way back when and I’d made them a wedding ring shawl on size 3 needles in white laceweight Ostrich Plumes.

Dr. M was the ENT who, eighteen years ago when my lupus was diagnosed, finally put together what had eluded everybody else for all those years: that my progressive hearing loss was due to an allergy to aspirin.  I’d apparently triggered it with an overdose when I’d climbed into the medicine cabinet as a toddler and had eaten not quite enough baby aspirins to have to get my stomach pumped.  It was a new bottle and Mom counted pills and fed me baking soda instead on doctor’s orders to neutralize the acid.

With the lupus, I had a new diagnosis and meds to have to take, but I went completely deaf on the prescription-strength Aleve.  I have to tell you–you can close your eyes and try to see what it’s like to be blind, but you cannot close your ears.  It was like nothing I could have expected: when someone talked to me, I felt waves of pain in my ears.  But no sound.  Nada.  Except for the roaring white noise in my ears that didn’t respond to anything but itself.

Apparently Aleve (called Naprosyn then) was different enough from aspirin that I lucked out, but whatever, my hearing came back to what it had been when the dose wore off, and under Dr. M’s directions, I never took NSAIDs again.

And what he told me meant my kids wouldn’t go deaf in their teens too.  And they did not.

And what he told me meant I didn’t have to go any more deaf.  And I did not.

The man was right.

There is more to the story, related to when my Crohn’s was diagnosed ten years later, but this will do for here.  Suffice it to say, I owed him, bigtime; that wedding ring shawl felt absolutely imperative to do.  And it became one of those projects that I will forever rejoice that I knitted it: both for my own sake, and for the great joy of their reaction to it.

I signed and gave him a book today. And he signed my copy for me.

What to do
Thursday August 21st 2008, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Life

Came across this and found it important enough to pass along to those who want to know how to help when someone has a very ill family member.

Yarn: The Consuming Passion
Thursday August 21st 2008, 12:01 pm
Filed under: Knit

Yarn: the consuming passionIf there’s anyone who hasn’t discovered Sandra Boynton yet of “Hippo Birdies Two Ewes” fame, let me help you find her site.  Including here, for a little music with your knitting. (That’s not the only song, just my favorite.  Not to diss Davy Jones from the Monkeys singing “I Want To Be Your Personal Penguin.”) Boynton’s “Dogtrain” album is where I first heard Alison Krauss.

But the part that intrigues me is where she says she wrote “Chocolate: The Consuming Passion,” which my husband and I laughed over till we cried, solely because that way she could write all her chocolate off her taxes for a year.  The book recently went out of print after 20 years, I’m hoping simply so she can update it.  You know, it might need more research.  Yeah, I can see why she let it go out of print, just, you know, while she stocks up.  I can’t wait to buy the new version.

Do you suppose…I wonder what types of chocolate would best match my favorite cinnamon-brown baby alpaca…  Nah…

Slip it in reverse
Wednesday August 20th 2008, 2:59 pm
Filed under: Knit

Swatched at birthThe 20″ long tie-in-front blue shawl is one skein of Lisa Souza’s Sock!Merino in Siobhan; the white is one strand Misti Baby Alpaca laceweight doubled with one strand of Claudia’s laceweight silk, 1100 yards/100g, a half skein left over from an earlier project.

I’m playing with my yarns.  I’m reversing the placements of the ssk’s and the k2tog’s.  Except, doing one project right after the other, my fingers keep stuttering: wwwwait, which, oh, that’s right, got it.  I feel a little like a teen in driver’s ed trying not to hit the gas when I’m going for the brakes as my movements re-orient to the new reality.

A small world gets shrink-wrapped
Tuesday August 19th 2008, 3:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,My Garden

Another one blooming when we thought their season was spentBeautiful pictures of a beautiful soul here.  I waited for permission to link.

A few minutes ago, my daughter, rushing to get ready, asked me to find and print out directions to the wedding she’s going to of a college friend of hers; it was being held 60 miles away through the worst of Bay Area traffic.  I glanced at the wedding invitation, and…


It said the parents of the groom were holding a second reception later at their home in Indiana.

The father of the groom was our Mormon bishop when we lived in West Lafayette 25+ years ago while my husband was in a PhD program at Purdue.  I taught a Sunday School class of ten-year-olds and they adored me and I them enough that one even sent me a wedding announcement a few years ago, but I’d gradually lost touch with them all. glad-ness hiding in plain sight

And now I have the address of the parents of one of them to go and say hi, both to their daughter and to them.

Very, very cool.