Where there’s a wheel there’s a way
Friday February 12th 2010, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Spinning

(“How ’bout this, too?” asked A Child Who Shall Remain Nameless.

“No, I don’t think so!” from Nancy in tandem with my “Not on your life!”)

Nancy, who is in the process of selling her house and has been busybusybusy, came over today anyway, to my great delight. I’m clearly doing better than I was, thank goodness, but I warned her about my cold, fever gone or no. (Hey, anybody want a house in Mountain View with a beautiful indoor courtyard? Her turtle swam with the fishies in a fountain in there for many many years.)

While trying to stage her house, she’s also a co-chair running CNCH (a Stitches West-type event for handweavers) and she’s teaching handspinning classes. Hey! I had some Romney roving that needed a home: Romney is one of the best wools for teaching new spinners with, not too short but not rough like some of the longer wools, but I am no longer a beginner and I like my wool softer than that.

(Side note here before Don asks: roving is the term for fiber that has been washed, carded, and if need be dehaired of any coarse outer coat and removed of any hay the animal might have rolled around in and is now ready to be spun into yarn.)

A solution could be found here, don’t you think? And so off it went with her, freebie supplies for her students to make everybody happy.  Then I threw in a nepped-at-the-mill (not on purpose!) Rambouillet fleece for extra practicing on.  The Boy Scouts had gotten a large bagful for stuffing in their shoes on long hikes to avoid blisters; now the second bag had a good use.

Although, I did spin one good project out of that Rambouillet years ago; its tested micron count was very fine and it was such soft stuff.  It was half-felted as well as pilled by the time it came back to me (the mill I sent it to bought better superfine equipment after that learning experience), and though it was like trying to spin rubber bands, it did make for very soft, cushy slippers that I knit up for my daughter’s high school biology teacher.

That teacher’s name was one of two on the bio textbook.  She was so inspiring in that classroom that she changed my daughter’s life entirely.  Handspun handknitted slippers as a thank you for my daughter wanting to walk in her shoes was the least I could do.  And that was based on what I knew then.

Sam’s finishing up her microbiology PhD now.   I hope her old teacher knows that Sam not only tried her shoes on, she loved the fit.

Taking it easy
Thursday February 11th 2010, 7:15 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Family

No Purlescence knit night for me–I’m contagiously sick. And then some.  But Stitches West is in two weeks, I’ve waited a year for it, and I. AM. GOING.  End of story.

In better news, Michelle, who’s been a recession statistic since her college graduation last year, landed a good job today that she’s thrilled to get and they are thrilled to have her. Go Michelle!

Rock that baby g e e ently back to sleep
Wednesday February 10th 2010, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Life,Wildlife

La Restaurante des Oiseaux tends to get its heaviest feather-and-foot traffic at breakfast, lunch, and dinner-type intervals. Curious, that.

And so it was during a quiet time of no activity there that my childrens’ birdfeeder started swaying ever so gently back and forth. Nothing was nor had been on it.  Huh.  I glanced over at the other; same thing, very rhythmic, the two doing a slow dance in perfect tandem.

And yet the leaves on the trees were still. No breeze there.

I’ll just bet you, I thought.  I gave them a little time to record it, then checked the time at the USGS site a little later.  A baby quake, epicenter right about here, not enough heft to it to feel for anyone over the size of perhaps a chickadee.

(Hey, Illinois: yours today was conjectured to have been caused by the earth being relieved of the weight of the ice age, according to this article.  Quick!  Tell Washington, DC to stop shoveling, now, or they’re in for it!)

Must be rusty at this
Tuesday February 09th 2010, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

A last thought on yesterday’s post: at the time Kurt’s wife and my father-in-law had that conversation, probably 15 years ago, I remember wondering why it was so important to her to know something that had happened years before–and why now, finally.

A little older, a little wiser, I get it now: she was trying to cope with the death of her brother by searching for a way to be thankful for the dramatic good that had been given him in his life.  To express gratitude towards a person who so much deserved it, to let him know his heroism and his kindness had never been forgotten.  (Or, by that point, to at least tell his family so as to make sure they knew that part of their father’s story, too.) And at the same time she wanted the comfort of knowing for absolute sure that all that was real.  It was.

And so Life–whatever way one is most comfortable describing it is okay with me, for me, it was a clear sign of a loving God–let it all come together for her to ease her pain.  I remember my father-in-law, after we got home from church that day, marveling over and over, Nobody else could have told her. Nobody else in that room that day is still here to tell the tale.  I’m the only one!

And I marvel at that meeting having been scheduled at just the right time, the driver from another town coming in for it and being at that one intersection at just the exact moment…

Which would have been meaningless had he chosen to just pass on by. But he did not.  He could never possibly know how many lives he touched by his caring that day.  The good that we do does live on.

Now.  In the where-moth-and-rust-doth-corrupt department: nine hats in nine days, and my fingers were starving for something back in my own comfort zone and routine. I had this marvelous skein of Creatively Dyed’s calypso-line Tempest laceweight that had been impatiently waiting its turn.

But it was so fine.  I wanted more instant gratification.  Let’s see, that Cashmere Superior in the stash, as long as it’s a splurge project anyway…

And thus Michelle came in and saw me working on this yoke.  In real light, the Cashmere Superior is a fairly subdued rust color, much improved by the Tempest. (I’ll try for a better photo in the daylight tomorrow. )

Now, as a parent, you can never teach your children all the things you know, and I’ll never learn all the things they know.   She’s a generation removed from the art-dealer-daughter life I grew up with.

And yet. She instantly recognized what I’d been thinking, and told me that “All that colorwork”–and she gave recognition in that word, the way she said it, to the actual and extensive work that had gone into creating that colorway–“is lost in that rust.”

“Well, not lost, but it is subdued.”

“Yes, but if you put it with a black strand it would really pop out.  Or red.  But better black.”

I looked at it a bit stunned.  She was absolutely right.  Black hadn’t even occurred to me.  (Wait–maybe because I have like about zero black yarn in my stash.  Knitters?  Or at least older-eyed knitters? You with me on that one?)  I said something about art dealers and backgrounds and how I ought to have picked up on that, and she grinned, “Well, I know clothes,” and went on to describe her best friend’s new outfit that was in exactly the Temptation colors and black.

Wait–(man am I slow)–that might have been a hint.

656 yards of the Cashmere Superior before I run out, 1200 of the Tempest.  If I use a slightly heavier yarn and bigger needles the second time around, I can definitely try it with black later.

Monday February 08th 2010, 6:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends

(One for each Taylor kid, done, but I think I’ll redo the fire one in Silkie and the Sumoko that gave it that orange so that all eight come from the same yarn family.)

The reason I threw in the detail yesterday that Kurt’s brother-in-law Les had raised his family in my hometown was that there was a story to be told there. Today I’ll tell it.

Les passed on younger than one might hope for, and Kurt’s wife coped with the loss of her brother by wishing to somehow find out the long-unanswerable details: years earlier, in his moment of great need, who had come to his rescue?  Someone had, hadn’t they? Les thought so, but he was pretty hazy about it all and exactly what had happened to him the day he’d been in a terrible car accident.  Les had testified at the trial of the other driver that, Your Honor, my brain’s not too clear yet from it all and I don’t rightly remember…

It had been years ago.  And now he was gone.   Which court was the trial even held in?  She sent out letters, but there seemed no way to know what she wished for.

My in-laws came out here visiting around that time, and when Kurt’s wife found out they were from the DC area, she mentioned her brother’s name. Why, yes, of course we knew Les! Then she mentioned how very much she wished she knew more about what had happened that day.

There had been a stake leadership meeting that day. A stake is a collection of wards.  My father-in-law had been at that meeting.

One man had come in very late, in very intense emotion, needing to tell what he’d just seen and what he’d just done.  On his way to the meeting, someone had run a red light and had hit the car in front of him so hard that the other driver was ejected from his VW Bug and he was lying in the street, fading in and out as this man had pulled over and run to him.  He thought he might recognize the man as a fellow Mormon, although they weren’t in the same ward and he wasn’t sure. He asked him if he wanted a blessing, got the faint answer yes, administered to him, attended to him, and waited with him for the ambulance to arrive.

And then he went on to that meeting, hoping terribly hard that Les would be okay.

And so Les had pulled through.  One can only imagine how much it had strengthened him not to be alone there as he lay so badly injured in the street.

Les’s sister had wanted so dearly to know: who had helped him? Who had been his Good Samaritan? There had been someone, hadn’t there?  And what exactly had happened?

There was only one person alive by then who could possibly have answered her questions and to reassure her that someone had indeed been present for her brother in his hour of great need.

And, having flown across the country to visit us, he just happened to be sitting by her right there at church.

Sunday February 07th 2010, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Kurt spoke briefly today.  I remember him when.  It was inevitable, but it’s still somehow surprising week after week to see a man who’d been riding his bike dozens of miles a day on into his late 70’s now needing help to walk a few steps; when I asked him recently how his grandkids were doing, he both laughed and sighed and admitted he couldn’t quite keep them all straight anymore.

He is the oldest member of our ward (congregation), he proudly reminded us today, and, he said, he hopes to have many more years to reminisce over.

I found myself wishing I could tell the newer members of the ward a little of the back-in-the-days.  You know that when that happens, I end up inflicting it on you-all.

Kurt’s wife’s brother raised his family in my hometown, and the young woman growing up that Kurt’s older son would later marry was also from my home ward in Maryland; meeting Kurt and his wife when we moved here was like putting a little piece of our hometown puzzle together.  Understand that there are many little stories of surprise and small-world overlappings embedded in that sentence.

His daughter-in-law’s grandparents were the founders of a large international business that, if I told you the name, you would instantly recognize it.

So here’s the story, going back to when my kids were little.  Kurt had a tradition of having his sons and his grandsons fly into town here every summer to go on a big annual Scout camp-out our ward held,  Kurt coming along too.  Just like old times for him and his now-grown kids; there were new memories to be made with his sons as adults now and with grandkids–sometimes granddaughters too–to get to know better, up high in the Sierras with a pack and a tent or two in the clear bright air. (My John adds that Kurt and his older son would race to see who could be first to swim two miles’ distance in forty-degree water, and that Kurt did 200 push-ups a morning.)

There was a young dad in our ward, father of a little girl about a year old when he got called to be ward scoutmaster.  So Steve was in charge of those events.  Now, I have no idea how much camping experience he had, but he was game.  Steve, tall, blond, and gorgeous, had met his Hawaiian wife while surfing in the Islands.

She missed home and he missed Hawaii too, and eventually they moved back there.  He got a job working for a large corporation for the necessary nine-to-five end of life. He was bright and good at what he did, but his boss tended to write him off as something of a beach bum.

Fast forward a few years. People move, people you don’t often see anyway you lose touch with, it happens.

Kurt’s son, who was by now a corporate bigwig in his in-laws’ company, and his wife, were out strolling along the beach on I think it was the Big Island, talking to the head honcho of the local facility.  I’m sure the man was nervous; or rather, at least, I know I would be, if I didn’t know the two he was talking to but only their Names.

And all the sudden Kurt’s son was running! Running, and throwing his arms around one of the manager’s employees, that beach bum dude, going, “STEVE! *STEVE*!!  How ya DOIN’!!!” Thumping each other on the back, thrilled like little kids, the wife joining in, wanting to catch up on old times, talking about back in the day, how are the kids, forgetting business entirely.

While the manager stood there stunned, wondering, What just happened here?! How do they…? How on earth!?

I’ve been told Steve got a nice promotion after that.

Kurt may not remember all his family’s stories in his old age.  But we younger folks can help him write down memories of some of the good he created in others’ lives and remind him and cheer him in his old age.

…Five, six, pick up sticks…
Saturday February 06th 2010, 7:12 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Not entirely sure about that first one; I like this Silkie-yarn theme of all of the siblings’ hats being connected,  ie same yarn, two colorways being riffed on.  I do know, though, that at least one of the grandmas likes orange. Hmm.

In today’s exciting knitting room…
Friday February 05th 2010, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Class, pay attention, now, please.

Yes, ma’am  (gives next desk over a quiet shove with a foot, sneaking in a, Hi Blog!)  The answer is: a hat!

Thank you, dear.  You–Miss Laceweight in the back. I hear you just fine, now, shhh, you’re just going to have to wait your turn. Raise your hand quietly and wait for me to call on you.

Seen at Purlescence
Thursday February 04th 2010, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,LYS

It just wasn’t it. I only got a few rows into it but frogged it.  Not soft enough. Didn’t please me.   Colors wrong.  No.

Well, huh.  I grabbed that Blue Moon Silkie Lagoon and began another one for one of the boys instead: one skein of teal-blue Manos Silk with it this time.

Brian’s family shared so many pictures of their older boys and ours camping in the Sierras near Lake Tahoe with the Scouts, and each one of these hats captures the colors in those photos.

I finished the third one, then, tonight at Purlescence, hanging out with my friends while my yarn had a ball.  Mary retrieved the Silkie for me once, but after that I declared it free range yarn and, as long as it wasn’t going to trip anyone up, let it roll with the punches.

It wandered a little down the aisle to my side. A sweet young merino hung a strand down from its perch, Rapunzel style, and they kind of got wrapped up in each other. Hat’s off to the two–I cast off and unleashed the strands.

I’d brought with me some more Silkie, this time in a colorway Blue Moon calls “Love.” (Or called; I don’t see it on their site at the moment.)  I picked out some superwash to match it tonight for Brian’s sisters, some red, some pink, all very soft.

I was almost to my car when Sandi came running after me.  Wait!  I hadn’t gotten a discount!

They insisted. They knew who it was to be knit for.  They asked me to send Brian‘s family their love, too.

I walked back inside; they fiddled with the register and counted out the difference. I looked at it and grinned, “I’ve never been paid for leaving a yarn store before.”

They are such good souls there.  Sandi, Nathania, and Kaye: thank you.

The parable twos
Wednesday February 03rd 2010, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Knitting a Gift

Hey, Dad, look what’s blooming now–thank you!

Twins by a different color… I was already into the green hat today before I realized that oh, right, I was going to use superwash for all these. Misti baby alpaca isn’t, but oh, does it feel wonderful; I decided, well, hey.  One doesn’t always have to be entirely practical.  Meantime, I definitely have enough of the Blue Moon skein left to make a third, although I’m going to do another girl hat while I decide what to put with it.

Thought I’d show the finished fuschia-orange one, ends woven in, so Ellen can let out a sigh of relief. There you go.  Done.

I remembered today what I already knew, that when it comes to knitting ribbing, two by twos knit up so much faster, so much easier on the hands, and in a fair bit less time than one by ones.  Y’know, there’s a parable waiting to leap out of that.

On to the next, after I decide what it’s going to be.  The whether-or-not  report is predicting bright and sunny, with chance of scattered colors.

And a one, and a two…
Wednesday February 03rd 2010, 12:43 am
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

“I’m trying to get a Taylor family project done a day.”

“Ouch,” winced Michelle. “Break out the icepacks.”

It’s 11:26 pm and I’ll run the ends in tomorrow. I know, slacker…

Yarn: one strand Somoko superwash merino/kid mohair/nylon/silk from Fleece Artist, one strand, Maple Creek Farms superwash merino/bamboo/nylon, sock weights bought at Stitches East Fall ’08, and I never realized till today how well they would go together if I should need, say, a worsted-weight’s worth of superwash treated wool…

Here a Silkie, Zara Silkie, everywhere a silky silky
Tuesday February 02nd 2010, 1:07 am
Filed under: Friends,Knit

What to do.

Dithering: I hanked 1550 yards of white merino/cashmere/silk blend off a cone and scoured it. Wound 440 yards of suri alpaca into a ball.

I wanted to knit a hat.  A good, useful, guy-type thing, right?  I bought some Zara merino Friday at Purlescence because it was so soft yet tightly spun–but when it came right down to it, I realized later, it was thinner than I had any desire to knit in ribbing.

Yesterday at church, Brian’s oldest sister was thrilled when I gave her the scarf made from Liz’s Belisa cashmere and Robin’s Cashmere Superior; they’d danced beautifully together on the needles. Then the purple cowl for her little sister.  Their older brother stood there, delighted at how happy the one sister was and how much the other one was about to be.

I’d already planned for him to be next. Zara, don’t look at me like that.

And so I got those other useful-later tasks done while not-knitting.

Finally, I pulled a tub of yarn out of the closet, opened it up–and felt, oh, at last.

Now, you can never get ahead of nice people; I once surprised Tina Newton with a shawl, and she surprised me right back with not only more of the same Geisha yarn so I could go make me one too, which I did, but also a whole whack of other stuff too.

But the Silkie (link is to the colorway) in the lot had refused to budge. Its time hadn’t happened yet.  I wanted to thank Tina by putting it to good use, and all it would tell me was, Just you wait.

Today, as I looked at the Zara and that open tub, the Silkie went, Told you so.  So there.

It’s just a plain watchman’s cap in 1×1 rib, but the colors came out in a slight diagonal all over that delights me. Leigh Witchel’s basic 2×2 hat formula I riffed on, here.

Three younger siblings done, five to go.