Post-Stitches haze
Saturday February 27th 2010, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I’ve been staring at this blank page.  Where to start.

(Maybe if the yarn weren’t all in hanks. But it is. And I am too tired to wind it up into balls.)

But still.  All these glorious, glorious yarns and colors.  And a thank you to Dianne’s husband for running out to their truck for my Waterfalls Elegant hank from their stock.  Where to start.

I tell you, it’s going to be a very fun year.

I got to see Lisa and Rod, so dear to me for so many years, and Sheila.  Dianne.  The folks at Blue Moon.  Karen at Royale Hare, Melinda and Tess at Tess.  I got to meet the folks at Malabrigo: to my surprise, I found myself in a conversation in French at one point, but we all spoke yarn. And I got to see so many, many friends who were simply walking around trying to take it all in, too.

To Jasmin‘s brother Sam, who pushed me today, sparing my hands and arms for knitting, Michelle and I plan to get that manufacturing cream on Monday–you earned that chocolate torte! (Recipe in comments, actual cake forthcoming.) Thank you!

And I have now held an actual vicuna-blend hank of hand-dyed gorgeousness, 15% vicuna and still in the qiviut-ic stratosphere.  Which is a good thing. Pay those South American ranchers well.  Shear a wild vicuna, save a vicuna by making it worthless to poachers, save a species–well done, Peru!

And someday I will afford some and knit some.  (No, new skeins, that wasn’t a sheep shot.)

Stitches, day one
Friday February 26th 2010, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Knit

(Knitting needles as models have limitations. They’re always trying to make a point.)

“You know nobody’s going to see my shawl. They’re just going to look at that hat,” I told Michelle.

Truer words… I was planning on taking it off after I no longer needed it for warmth nor to keep my slightly damp hair away from my hearing aids. But on it stayed, because all day long I had people stopping me and wanting to comment about what was on my head and I do have this ego thing going on. Had I designed it? Where could they get the pattern? It was a doodle?!  One told me, “I’m a piano teacher!”  I laughed over the ignored Tara pattern and got told by one knitter, “There are a lot of shawls. There is only ONE piano hat!”

Well, no, actually, there are two. But I rather doubt the surgeon who got the other one minds.

Yarn: merino laceweight single ply in a base like Malabrigo’s, from Tess Designer Yarns; blackbewwie sock!merino, very soft and just the thing for shawls, sapphire baby alpaca laceweight, and Lake Superior silk from Lisa Souza. And no, that’s not all; Dianne at Creatively Dyed and I had a delightful time together.  Uh, yeah. She would confirm that.  Definitely.

Stitches tomorrow!
Thursday February 25th 2010, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Life

Having rather un-chair-itable thoughts at certain battery packs that cost $150 a whack and then don’t recharge, because it’s a use-it-or-lose-it and I didn’t try to since…um, Stitches… (Wait, that would be TWO years ago, Sam was pushing me last year ten days out of Stanford. Right. Okay, then.  Never mind.)

Back to the manual one. At least I’ve finally got a much-needed new cover for thisssss old thing.

Get fuzzy
Thursday February 25th 2010, 12:07 am
Filed under: Amaryllis,Knit

I’m not sure why I find myself wanting to catch up on old yarns as Stitches approaches.  But I do.

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I bought a wholesaler’s closeout of natural-brown 90% cashmere 10% nylon cones at–are you knitters ready for this?–$15/lb, and I bought ten pounds of it, all they had.  And then they found a few more in their warehouse and I bought those too.  They were giving it to me at their cost to get rid of it.  It needed a strong washing, and not just for the mill oils.  It was single-ply and cobweb fine, impossibly fragile; I plied it on my wheel into all kinds of useful, stronger thicknesses, scouring after spinning, and I made so many things out of it for several years.  Afghans, yarn that my mom knitted up into the most glorious Aran sweater, you name it.

Till I was down to the very last few pounds.  The idea of actually running out of this resource after all those projects… The rest of it kind of got tucked away, waiting till I could bear to let it go.

At some point, though, I wound some off, 64 g here, 66 g there, and threw them in the dyepot, one into a little red, the second a bit of purple.

And then those hanks, too, simply sat there.  I certainly didn’t do any spinning last year with all the stitching they did on me.

I got some Handmaiden laceweight silk awhile ago. Hey. While I was working on the shawl in Cashmere Superior and Dianne’s laceweight, the fuzzy and the colorful, I wondered if this new silk would look good with those two, and it would definitely add strength…

So today I tried it.  Plied the cashmeres first, then the silk around the other two. The yarn is balanced; no twisting in the finished skein, it hangs straight. So my being so out of practice didn’t hurt it.

The silk glistens, the cashmere fuzzes around it.  160 yards, drying now, waiting.  There’s a whole lot more, potentially, where that came from.

It’ll high-tail it out of here
Tuesday February 23rd 2010, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Family

Another round shawl was laid out, blocking… And Michelle came home and walked into the room. She stopped. She considered it a moment.

“The peacock called. He wants his tail back.”

Straighten up!
Monday February 22nd 2010, 11:46 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Knit

Watch out, the kid’s pretty, wired right now.

Mother and child
Sunday February 21st 2010, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

They teach us patience when they’re little so that we have it on hand when they become too big to scoop up into our arms and make it all better with the simplicity of a hug.

A young mom with two adorable boys ages three and one-something and one on the way was one of the speakers at church today.   Her topic was repentance.

She said there had been an incident, (for which the details were irrelevant because the whole thing was so universal), but basically, her older boy had done some behavior in public that she had felt in a moment of fatigue had made her look bad as his mother.  She’d been cross with her sweet little boy.

And then she’d felt horrible.

Okay, is there a single mother out there who can’t relate to that?  Who doesn’t understand that yes, you are the mother and yes you should be in control of your own reactions, but who nevertheless gets what it’s like to have little ones out in public acting normal for their age in a society that looks down on them unless they’re behaving like little adults with an absolute decorum that even adults don’t always master, to be sleep-deprived, tired, pregnant, and–well, just plain needing a moment in the time-out corner oneself. With perhaps a good pillow.  Or a mug of hot cocoa and a little me time.  You know, I got seriously back into knitting when my own kids were little: it was something creative and of my own choosing, beautiful, and–this is important–that Stayed Done.

She described repentance as being when she and her pride have a stare-down contest in the mirror.

And so she’d apologized to her little boy for her flare of temper.  He, of course, had simply thrown his arms around her and told her “I love you Mommy!” with the complete and utter adoration of a small child. Total heartmelt.

She likened God’s forgiveness, which so easily blesses us when we seek it in acknowledging our shortcomings, to the pureness of her little son’s.

And I sat there and thought, and the other thing God gives us? Grandparents for your children. I include in that category anyone whose own little ones are bigger than they are by now, who remembers the days, who would love to be charmed by that all-NO!-ing toddler, ready to smile or play or sing them out of it to give the moms a chance to regroup.  Even just a smile in a needed moment can make all the difference.

Totally count me in.  That’s what I’m here for.

Stitches is coming!
Sunday February 21st 2010, 1:02 am
Filed under: Knit

If anybody here doesn’t already know, Stitches West is next weekend at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  If you have ever had any desire to hold a skein of yarn in your hands in your life, and you can in any way make it there, go!  Inhale the wool fumes! The colors, the creativity, the sheer size and enthusiasm of the crowd of fiber lovers.  Heady stuff.  (Not to mention parking is free; what have you got to lose?) Come check out that silky new yarn made out of sugarcane fibers! (I kid you not.)

It used to be held in Oakland but it completely outgrew the place, and the last year there, the organizers learned that they needed to go to online ticketing after there was a two and a half hour line just to pay the entrance fee to get in the door.  We are not few. I didn’t mind; I could sit in my wheelchair–necessary for long days out–and knit and chat.

There are classes, there’s the market, but what I love best of all is getting to see people I never get a chance to see at any other time. It’s all about the friendships, and they grow from year to year.

Speaking of which. I flashed that picture of Cashmere America fiber at the interwebs the other day, hoping the lady that ran that booth might google and see it and come say hi.  Then I googled her co-op and found that Cashmere America had gone out of business–no wonder I hadn’t seen her nor her booth the last few years. I miss her.  If she reads this over there in Texas, I hereby wave hi a little louder.  You are part of our community, and you are missed.

Well, yes…
Friday February 19th 2010, 7:32 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends

No project! (I know, you heard that line a few days ago.)  So I grabbed some yarn and my book on my way out the door, figuring inspiration would hit me one way or another.

The Newsweek also in my bag didn’t stand a chance.  I was a few rows into a Concert scarf, (Fleece Artist, very soft Wool Silk, one skein will be plenty, I’m 20 g out of 100 and 15″ into it), sitting in the exam room for a quick appointment to catch up on some old questions and fill Dr. R. on where things have been since the last surgery.  Waiting…

…And he walks into the room.  Looks down at my hands. “You’re knitting. This is such a surprise.”

I think he’s on to me.

Generating more stitches
Thursday February 18th 2010, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Julia rightfully warns of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you go here, you’ll see why I’m so glad she brought it up.  Yesterday, a little too personally aware of the subject, we had the sliding door open just enough for the cord to pass through and kept the generator as far from the house as we could manage.  We have definitely had a CO alarm since that day 24 years ago.  I’m glad for that warning to be out there for others before, rather than after; thank you, Julia, for that.

On a more fun subject. More stitches and more rows than last week’s shawl, another five-day project, I did it! A ball-anced life, definitely.

I got home from Purlescence and Michelle asked me, “So how was your cult night?”

I explained to her that they’d just gotten a long-delayed shipment in of some of my most-favorite yarns in my most-favorite colors. And I hadn’t bought a single skein. (I didn’t add, “yet.”)

She looked at me with big eyes, and asked, “How did you DO that?”

“Stitches is next week.”

She guffawed. Busted in advance.

A wing and a prayer
Wednesday February 17th 2010, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Life

Our city has a reverse-911 system, and so, this morning, the robo-calls began.

Treat all intersections as a four-way stop. And avoid driving!

I got up, wondered, got in the shower anyway, planning to make it very brief just in case, and–Richard knocked on the bathroom door: It’s the city (another robo-call), to say, Don’t take showers!

Rinsing as fast as I can!

And it made me think once again how much water is my insulin.  Since the colectomy I can’t absorb a lot of it anymore and I have to constantly replace what the body is resisting.  Come to think of it, we hadn’t replaced the emergency water in the outside earthquake-preparedness containers in years. Ick.

No ‘Net here.  Even the landline didn’t work, except for the 25-year-old AT&T desktop that drew its power from the phone line.  The ones with the recharging bases kept telling incoming callers the line was busy, while the cell phones were iffy.  Ham radios won the day–John had his on, monitoring in case the Red Cross should need him.  Meantime, the city called Richard in to help run the emergency communications center. He’d gotten his ham license after his aunt’s house had been a half mile from the Loma Prieta epicenter in ’89.

(Okay, the funny part of his coming in is that they had everybody wear these vivid yellow vests so everybody would know who was who/doing what.  When he got home, I tried his on–it fit me. Note that I am 15″ shorter and a whole lot smaller around than he is.  Yeah, oops.)

Michelle had to take the car into work, because she sure couldn’t work from home today, but at least the traffic lights worked most of the way in that direction. I wrapped up with my knitting in much-needed blankets created by the hands of my wonderful friends; John curled up with a good old-fashioned book.

And every now and then, we opened the fridge.

Backing up a bit–last fall, our friend Ken sent an email: there was a grand opening special that included this type of generator at this price. Richard looked it up, went, wow, that’s better than I ever expected to get for that much, and we snagged the last one.  It had bothered him a long time that we didn’t have one, and now we finally would.

So now we’ve tried it out.  It was far quieter than I’d expected.  The fridge and freezer were good to go.

It was the dumb little things that kept tripping me up; I wanted a mug of hot cocoa fiercely in that cold, to the point even of debating moving the big microwave out of the kitchen and wrestling it into the middle of the family room floor where the cord could reach the generator’s plug-in.  (The generator itself was safely outside.)  Maybe John could strong-arm it for me?  But it seemed like a really bad idea all around and we voted against it.  Don’t overload that thing.  He admitted he’d checked out the Starbucks when he’d gone for gas to power the thing, but they were closed down–no hot chocolate there, and you just didn’t want to be on the road for dumb stuff.

And then, like I say, the car went (carefully) off with Michelle anyway.

One commentator I read allowed as how everybody in town had taken the day off to enjoy the warm California sun, and I thought, ?! Where are you typing THAT from!?  Okay, granted, compared to, say, DC’s snowmaggedon, but, it was in the low 50’s this morning.

But all of this is just noise, and stupid noise at that, compared to what others are going through that they’ll never be able to turn on the lights again and have it just be over with.  To the folks at Tesla Motors, makers of my dream electric car, and your families–our whole city grieves with you in your losses.

And marvels at the skill and care of that pilot in landing on that crowded street with only one wing left, in such a way that despite all the people present in that neighborhood, somehow nobody on the ground was hurt.  You knew you couldn’t save yourselves, but you did everything you could and so you saved everybody else.

Glad for the time, wishing for more
Tuesday February 16th 2010, 11:37 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Family

Tara’s Redwood Burl shawl, one strand Temptation CoCo from Creatively Dyed, one strand Cashmere Superior brushed cashmere/silk, size 7 needles (down two sizes from the original in the book, so, narrower).

Hey, Mom, reach for the stars.  John thought I was looking too serious, pulled a John and got silly and made me laugh, and quick! snapped this photo before I could recover. I am so going to miss him after he flies out Saturday–school, work, getting on with life.  But it’s been such a joy and a rare treat to have him home the last couple of months.  He’s a good one.  I am going to miss him fiercely.

Royale Hare
Monday February 15th 2010, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Knit

No project!  I grabbed some by-inspiration’s-invitation yarn last night and cast on, and now I’m on the second ball of Royale Hare ‘s merino fingering weight in lavender; so I’m about 300 yards and 12-13 inches into the latest shawl in a new pattern.  I only put it down  to come write this because my hands demanded I take a longer break.  I’ve got knitting fever, bad.

I have no idea how Karen got a solid fiber, not a blend, to come out shimmery and heathery out of a single color as if it had some silk in it that might be slightly resisting the dye–but there isn’t any, just ordinary wool doing a pretty dance.  I do have to say, it grabs my eyes and my hands and sits me right down there right on that seat and declares, “KNIT!”

And so I do.

Maybe that deadline of Stitches next week to gleefully show it off to her is helping, too.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetie!
Sunday February 14th 2010, 6:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

His grandmother put his little sisters up to it! She got them to open up the family’s pop-tent trailer we were taking a few days later, make up one of the beds, (short-sheeted it, too, mind you), and throw rice in the sheets!

But then, about fifteen years ago, I happened to mention to Richard that one of my earliest memories was of the day my parents moved into the house they’d just built that I grew up in in Bethesda, MD.  Lots of commotion and comings and goings, but what I remember clearly, from age 3 3/4, was of being hustled off out of the way along with some other kids into one bedroom where there were mattresses propped up against the walls and a dresser next to them, and being told, “Don’t slide down the mattresses!”

And then they closed the door.

Whaddya think we were gonna do? I mean, c’mon!

I remember the drawers being pulled out a bit to make steps to ascend the dresser (I may have contributed to that), while some bigger kids (memory is fuzzy here who)  simply clambered right straight to King of the Mountain status–and then I remember having a grand and glorious time sliding down after them, the thrill no doubt intensified by the knowledge that, while I was copying the big kids, I was also doing exactly what I’d been told not to.  It was a revelation of the possibilities and fears of disobedience.  Which is no doubt why I remember it.

“They did yell at us. ‘I told you not to slide down the mattresses!’ I was there. I remember it.”


His parents had lived across the street from mine in apartments in DC when both couples had arrived in town as newlyweds; they’d been friends ever since.  His folks were helping mine move that day.

Richard was 4 1/2, older and wiser, but he did not set a good example.

And so we have a shared near-earliest memory. Of bouncing on the beds.

A number of years later, his maternal grandma knew we couldn’t yell at his little sisters after our honeymoon (if you haven’t read about that skunk, go, click, don’t miss it)  if she had been the one who’d put them up to it.  The little stinker.

Practically an arranged marriage, don’tcha think?

Tara’s Redwood Burl shawl, Tuesday through Saturday
Sunday February 14th 2010, 12:56 am
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Family,Knit

From winding a ball of yarn Tuesday

To this

To this

To the last. Cast off!

With a comforting hat for one of the Taylors, dyed and knitted by Karin, added in, and thank you, Karin. (I’m trying not to touch it or breathe on it, but I had to get a good shot.)

The shawl is blocking now, and oh goodness, if I thought it was soft and lovely as I was knitting it, rinsing the brushed cashmere and silk and Dianne’s laceweight knit together and laying it out in its pure form now…

One thought to add in here.  I’ve knitted two strands of laceweight together before, and found it mattered to me that they be a little grabby at each other. I once sent my sister (sorry, Carolyn, but it was so pretty!) a shawl knit of a strand each of baby alpaca and of a gorgeous, shimmery silk–and before I mailed it off to her, I managed to snag the silk somehow and that stitch slid wayyyy out of there.  Working a stitch back into a lace pattern, tugging gently along its lines, is one thing; doing it when one slippery strand has gone bonkers while a twin strand has stayed demurely in its place was something else.  It took me two days to fix, and I mailed it off with a catch in my breath, no time left to reknit the project in something more sensible.

She, however, is graceful. I am a klutz.  Her shawl has hopefully done just fine there.

Won’t be a problem with these two yarns.  They’re best friends, hand in hand, for life.