And a one, and a two…
Saturday July 16th 2011, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Family

The microwave blew up on Michelle this morning with a spectacular gust of smoke and stink after I’d had my hot cocoa but before she’d had hers. This still constituted an emergency, then.

A few reviews on Amazon about unseeable controls on the one that Costco turned out to have, unless you crouched down to its level each time, and we went off to a second store and found just the right thing. Stainless steel and black. Looks great.

What that triggered, of course, was a burst of energy towards making the kitchen look really nice too, by myself because Michelle had other errands that had to be run. Scrubscrubscrub. Let’s see, why is this still here? Out! Scrubscrubscrub.

I finally sat down too tired to move when suddenly Richard called for help: one ambitious project had begotten another in another room.  Our Web connection was going to be down for he didn’t know how long unless he got this finished. Okay, I’m all ears–glad to help. He was half under a table, drilling a hole, rewiring bedrooms; “Could you tell me where this is coming through so I don’t go through anything wrong?”

STOP you’re going to hit the rug!

He stopped.

I came to check on things from his side and managed to fall and twist a few things. Landed on him. Oh sorry dear. Picked myself up, got out of the way…

Then another yell for help: the bookshelf had collapsed, at him but thankfully not on him.  We emptied the contents of the bookshelf, fire brigade method.

I am sitting. I am knitting.  A randomly grabbed single stash skein of Frog Tree Meriboo that hopefully will be enough to make a fast not-really-for-warmth hat to cover the vasoline etc on my head. But boy does it feel good to have gotten all the things done we got done.

(Do I dare try my treadmill time with a twisted ankle…)

Maybe I should unsubscrub to that idea just for today.

Going on a dye-it?
Friday July 15th 2011, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Friday’s post is here, the story of the young dad with the screaming toddler. I’ve always loved how that one played out; I wonder how they are now. That would have been back when I was dyeing my hair, the only reason I shopped there, which would make her maybe ten by now.

Give her a few years and maybe she’ll go for the purple dye over thataway. The most harmless thing a kid can do to rebel is with their hair, and whatever they may look like for awhile, it grows patiently naturally back on its own time.

Speaking of which, with this vasoline in the scar thing going on, the Spaceman Spiff look? Totally nailed it.

(Eleven rows of 448 stitches today, an ice session in the middle, and I finished it! The shawl is blocking.)

Let me at it
Thursday July 14th 2011, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Knit,Wildlife

My post for Thursday is here.

A quiet day of knit, write, knit, write, knit, erase/write over again, with the occasional glance out the window (and a happy dose of Purlescence time near the end and some atrocious puns at Lene’s.)

A finch saw it. There it was. I was holding out on her, and look, no other finches in there to argue over it. Hey! She eyed me and hopped up from the doorway to the outer ledge of the window, exploring the glass oh-so-tentatively with her beak, hopping awkwardly down the narrow length of it and back, checking out that measuring cup just inside the window–clearly, her Pyrex was half full.

Well, nuts. She hopped back down to the sliding door as if waiting for me to open it. It’s there, the sunflowers are right there, why can’t I have it all to myself all that lovely lovely seed and not have to share it with that horde behind me? Let me in! We’ll be friends!

Two chickadees, meantime, birdwatched her at their favorite restaurant.

And a lace shawl slowly worked its way towards reality.

If you play your cards right
Wednesday July 13th 2011, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Knit

My post for today is one that was here previously: Got Milk?

Today: putting your glasses on top of your head  when it’s full of vasoline and stitches to try to see that dark yarn on the needles from up close is, well, kind of a boneheaded thing to do.

So is adding 2+2+the rest across the repeats and finding, 800 stitches later, that they added up to zero increases. Someone wasn’t paying enough attention to the swatch, a little scattered there… t i n k t i n k t i n k t i n k t i n k t i n k t i n k t i n k t i n k.

It feels good to be past where I was when I had to start the undoing. It feels good to be one more day past Monday and closer to being able to get my hair wet.

A bit of scrutiny in the mirror after a joking moment between my friend Marguerite and me–

–I’ll be darned. Look at that. It’s not just that it feels a little funny, that cancer surgery really did give me a slight facelift.  The surgeon played Fifty-two Pickup!

Server-us Snappe’d
Tuesday July 12th 2011, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Thank you, everybody… Much appreciated.

Between the server crash and the dermatologist making cutting remarks yesterday, I forgot to mention.

I have posts here and here on, Dr. Greene being my old friend Alan I grew up with. I was going to mention those Monday, and there will be one there for each day through Friday, but yesterday, an Apple a day kept the Doctor at bay.

Scalped by the scalpel
Tuesday July 12th 2011, 7:53 am
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

I wrote this yesterday afternoon and then our server died. Richard was up late wrestling with it, knowing people would worry (plus he wanted me to have my web access.)

Not sure when the lidocaine finishes wearing off, but for now I am a bit of a numbskull. It is a highly odd sensation to have your ears pulled together by the top of your head.

As the dermatologist got set to leave, I asked her to grab the white paper bag with handles sticking out of my knitting bag. She did, wondering, and then pulled out the scarf I’d made her: Handmaiden Camelspin (luminous and a bit greener in real life). “I love the colors!” as she felt that soft yarn and I explained the 70/30 silk/baby camel content. I can’t help it; I’m a fiber artist, it’s important to me to say what a thing is made of.

And it was important to me to tell that good woman what a difference she made in her willingness to drop everything and see me right away.

(Tuesday morning, getting ready to get Michelle on her train.) By the way, I was looking at some old pictures of us holding Parker in February, and there it was–a clear shot of my part in my hair. No sign of the lesion. So it did grow that fast that recently. 2 cm. And my head already feels better than yesterday.

Making lemon cake out of lemons
Sunday July 10th 2011, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

I was going to post a picture of the lilies, type, Just one more day, and leave the blog at that for the night and distract myself with Epiphany yarn. Row 72.

Michelle popped her head around the corner: “You were going to make almond cake, right?”

“Was I?” (Total head tilt.)

She’d just assumed, since I’d bought almond milk at Trader Joe’s on that trip yesterday and said it was for making cake with, well, so, tonight, right?

After we both got a good laugh out of that miscommunication–I’d simply wanted it on hand for the possibility–we both admitted that lemon cake actually sounded more fun, and since we already had five lemons picked we wouldn’t even have to brave the thorns in the dark out there.

1952 Betty Crocker’s Hot Milk Sponge Cake, substitute fresh picked lemon juice for half the milk–all of it is even better but again, it was a thorny issue–double the butter  (using Earth Balance to substitute) and soy or almond milk for the rest of the milk if needed (the dairy allergy thing) and there you go.

I got interrupted by the timer during the previous paragraph, and oh, does that kitchen smell heavenly. Michelle and Richard are looking forward to their early-morning breakfast before the dash for the train, everybody’s cheered up, and I’ve totally lost any leftover moping about the skin cancer surgery and any hair loss tomorrow.

Just because you can definitely means you should.

A cascade of good will
Saturday July 09th 2011, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I chatted a little with the Cascade folks today, hoping there might be some hope of bringing the Epiphany back; they wished so too. They said they’re careful to test the fiber contents for quality control on the yarns they have milled for them–which is why the changed label on the last run of it. They loved that yarn, too.  But, along with the pricing issue, it’s got to be what it says it is.

Meantime, I was picking up a few things at Trader Joe’s this evening, and the clerk, well, he was having a good time. Chatting with the customer before me. Chatting with me. He clearly wasn’t on clean-up crew tonight because he grinned that in ten minutes he got to go home. All was well in his world.

“So! How was your day?” he added.

Oh it was fine, I smiled back.

“Nothing exciting? No adventure?”

(No long line of customers behind me, so hey, why not.)  So I told him about the friends visiting from out of state, the book, the huge surprise that totally blew me away and the exquisite yarn yesterday.

You should have seen the grin on his face as he took that all in. “Wow. That is so cool”–and so much more of a story than he’d expected for his question: adventure indeed. “That was AWESOME!”

Robin and Kunmi…! Kunmi and Robin…!
Friday July 08th 2011, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,LYS

Okay, I can tell you a little background here, but but but it doesn’t follow that–I mean– ! I absolutely in no way deserve anything remotely approaching this.

Several weeks ago, as I’ve mentioned, my friend Robin was visiting from my hometown along with her close knitting friend Kunmi. We went to Coupa Cafe for the world’s best hot cocoa, we hung out a bit although not anywhere near enough, we had a grand time with what time we were able to have together, and I adored Kunmi on the spot and immediately saw why they were so close. And Robin is a peach.

Kunmi wished out loud that she could find a copy of my book. I exclaimed, Oh hey, I’ll give you one!

And so one went into the mail chasing their airplane home the next day, because Richard rightly insisted that night that I was just too tired to safely drive back over there.

And I didn’t go to Purlescence last night because I was just too tired to safely drive over there.

I got an email from Nathania, one of the owners, that was just enough of a hint that I had to today, though, and see what was up, if anything; besides, I needed my Purl Girls time.

After I got there, Sandi, another of the owners, mentioned that the Epiphany had arrived.  She knew I’d been waiting for it, although I thought I had till Fall to save up for it because that’s when I’d been told months ago Cascade was likely going to expand their color lineup of it.

This red, sold out in the shop for months, is it: the royal baby alpaca/cashmere/silk blend that I so adore, that I splurged and made an offwhite shawl out of recently, guessing the recipient would love all that softness too.

“They’ve discontinued it.”

They’ve WHAT?!

Sandi nodded, “I know,” and explained that the cost of the cashmere and silk fibers had risen so much in the past year that Cascade had decided they couldn’t sell it at a reasonable price anymore. She pointed out that the 60/20/20 had become 72/15 silk/13  for this one last mill run–“and when that’s gone that’s that.”

There sat the new bag of maroony red I’d been waiting so long for, while hoping maybe a good non-muddy teal green might come out too. (Nope.) The price of a whole shawl’s worth right now, budget-wise, much less coming out their door with more than that…  But–this was the last of it… ! Half the bag of the blue was already walking off with another customer on the spot; she’d knitted this stuff before, she knew what it was too.

Just then, Nathania sauntered over with a not-successfully-suppressed grin on her face. An envelope suddenly appeared with my name on it.

What’s this about? I opened it. Inside, a card that on one side simply said Purlescence with a pretty picture of yarns. I turned it over…

A gift certificate for, oh my stars, one hundred mind-blowing dollars. With love from Robin and Kunmi.

On the day that coveted yarn came in. There’s my shawl’s worth and then some.

I…I… I am still just totally, utterly blown away.  *THANK* you, Robin and Kunmi!!!

They toil not, neither do they spin
Thursday July 07th 2011, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Family,My Garden

I periodically (well, yes) get a catalog from a Dutch bulb wholesaler, thanks to a Christmas box a few years ago with eight giant-size amaryllis bulbs in it. (Thank you, Dad!)

I thumbed through the new arrival today and a few minutes later regretfully put it in the recycling bin. Pretty, pretty pictures, but nope, nope, nope. Even beside the whole issue of me and sun exposure: you can’t grow tulips here, really. It doesn’t get cold enough for them to bloom but the first season unless you’re willing to dig them up and store them in the fridge, and they’re poisonous for people if someone majorly goofs.

The squirrels, on the other hand, will thank you for hosting their party the moment you put them in the ground. Daffodils are safe from the little marauders, and my glads seem to be too, but tulip bulbs? Totally dessert.

The lilies in those pages, though–those really grabbed me. I’ve always loved Stargazers, though I think I only ever bought one bulb once years ago and it did not thrive while I was chasing after small children. Was I going to buy $50 worth of Stargazers to meet the company’s minimum? Absolutely not. Thanks for the peek, out you go.

I skipped out on Purlescence time tonight, too tired to drive, but Richard needed to make a Costco run. As long as he was at the wheel, sure, be glad to come keep you company, hon.

And so we were headed towards the produce when there they were. The lilies. After Eight,  a smaller, even more perfect version of the Stargazer variety, the flowers just as big–five stalks, 10″ pot, $14.99.

The smell was heavenly. There were two whole wooden pallets on the floor covered with blooms reaching high towards us.

We both stopped so suddenly at the sight that someone to the left turned and rammed his cart into Richard in the near-empty store. Oh sorry sir.

I was going, Wow, those are gorgeous, when Richard, to my surprise, ignoring the cart guy, pronounced, “You want one that’s not open yet. How about this one?”

Wait, what?

“Sometimes I buy you flowers,” he added in happy anticipation, waiting for it to sink in.

I looked at him. Yes of course he meant it. Cool! (He had no idea I’d been wishing or even anything at all about that catalog arriving or about how I like Stargazers, none, nada. Never been a topic.) We looked through them all till I came back to the one he’d picked out at the very beginning as indeed the best one. Like trying on shoes, isn’t it.

I had instinctively gone for the ones already in bloom because of my pink azaleas: one of which, I found out the year after I planted them, happened to actually be white. Mislabeled. Oops. Yup, it’s still there at the end of the row of them out there, its branches interwoven by now with the pink till there’s no telling where each begins: they made themselves belong to each other. They stay.

So if there’s one white lily stalk in there with the other four it will just be too funny. But behold the lilies that will be in our field of vision. I can’t wait.

Secretariat, in baby alpaca worsted
Wednesday July 06th 2011, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Annnnd she’s a-comin’ round that race track for another lap. Will she start to decrease? Will she go on?  Does she have enough yarn? (We’re in the black hole here, folks, the tape’s saying 8.65″ one minute, 7.5″ the next.  You never know when she’ll pull out ahead of the crowd of stitches.)

Yes! She’s going for another round! And another! Look at that determination. And another! She’s got another skein coming if she thinks this one’s going down. Go go go!

Now, we’re heading into those last laps. It’s fair, isle say, to think she could put a plain round between every one of those decrease rounds and still have enough; what do you say? Looks like she’s going for it. GO GO GO! Almost there, almost there, allllllmoooooosttt…

…And she DID IT! With twelve grams left and a whopping twenty-five yards for the WIN!!!

Hard to stop long enough to type this
Tuesday July 05th 2011, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Ever have your knitting all in a well-behaved queue, knowing exactly what you’re going to do next and what after that and all according to plan? And then have something in your stash leap onto your needles completely of itself and absolutely demand that no, you have to do what it says now.

Matter of fact you suddenly realize it has played loop the leap on you and has you all wrapped around its little needly fingers. And there you go.

Ever have a project, as you knit it in delighted unanticipated anticipation of the outcome, of the person you hope it’s going to make a difference to, tell you that it is THE prettiest, best thing you ever made ever? You argue with it, you know it’s silly, you cite examples–but it grins right back at you and tells you that you feel this way the most when you’re anticipating most happily on someone else’s behalf, and yes you felt like that two weeks ago on that Epiphany shawl (and it was true!) and on the and the and the but for all of that, why, yes, this IS it. The very best thing ever for this particular moment. Can’t wait to send it off.

Yes. I have definitely felt that way too.

Only so sew
Monday July 04th 2011, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

I remember my Mom and my next-older sister planning a prom dress together. Would have been 1974. Mom had some beautiful fabric for it; I’m picturing that it was a red and black silk print my grandmother brought back from a trip, hand-batiked in Indonesia, but if I’m wrong I’m sure I’ll hear about it.

Before Mom messed with that treasure she decided to give the pattern a test-drive in muslin. I remember her explaining to me that this is what the pros do, they sew it twice, once for practice and fit and once for real after they see that their design works out the way they want (or what to change if it doesn’t.)

I remember arguing: you have to pay for the muslin in the fabric store so why not pay for some other fabric and get a second usable dress? Why just plain (muslin being in an oatmealy shade I didn’t like) when you could have something more colorful? And softer?

Mom just laughed me off and went on with what she was doing; I do remember my sister happily reporting afterwards that her date had admitted that when he’d heard that Mom was going to be sewing the dress, he had all kinds of worries about how homemade it was going to look–but wow, he said, she looked beautiful!

Practice makes perfect.

Mom later sewed my wedding dress. Those of you who sew who live in the Washington DC area, couture-house lace remnants at G Street Fabrics for the yoke and cuffs. My mom rocks.

I thought of all that as I put my qiviut aside, almost done but before I got any further, just just just to make sure (and yeah I should have done this first like Mom taught me), I went to go play with the same shawlette idea in different yarns: a strand of that so-soft Baruffa merino knitted with one of an alpaca with a bit of wiriness to it–okay, but not baby alpaca.

It’s done. I love how it looks, even if it’s not as soft (well, yeah) as that ohmygoodness qiviut. And Michelle approves.

When the next generation down says it looks good you know you’ve nailed it.

Celebrating Independence
Sunday July 03rd 2011, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis

Happy Fourth of July!  My amaryllis is trying for the fireworks effect.

What it’s there for
Saturday July 02nd 2011, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Cheryl asked me yesterday if I had a lot of yarn, and I laughed and answered with a story on myself: the hot water heater once burst and flooded out the back of a closet where there was, ahem, more yarn tucked away–Richard knew about the stash in the family room closet…

But I’ve been thinking since then that although I was sheepish about it at the time that that happened, telling that tale that way wasn’t fair to my husband.  He has so often seen me find out about a need, someone who needed support just then, and seen me go to my stash and find what felt like just exactly the most perfect yarn to launch into for them and I go for it on the spot. Knitting is love made tangible. He has seen the joy. He has shared in that joy.

And I knew he got it, he really got it, 18 years ago when his sister, whose name was also Cheryl, was diagnosed with late non-Hodgkins lymphoma. He asked me if I would knit her something? And he insisted on coming along, driving me and our four kids across the Bay to the  now-gone Straw Into Gold store in Berkeley where the stock was immense, helping me pick out colors for her multi-colored vest. (There was no way I was going to feel sure I could get sleeves to fit from long distance, but a vest, that I could do.)

We wrapped her in our love together for eight more years.

I actually asked him just a few days ago, after a small cone arrived from Colourmart, if he minded how much yarn I had. (Side note to my fellow knitters: those come with mill oils that feel like dried hair mousse and the yarn must be hanked and scoured in soapy hot water, dried and balled before knitting, a lot of work and the missing steps that you pay for when you buy a yarn store yarn. But the cone was Zegna Baruffa, very soft, and the prices are what they are.)

He looked astonished. “No! That’s what makes you happy!”

Not just the collecting it, not the owning it, but the impish anticipation and then the moment in the recipient’s face (whether I get to see it or not) when it all comes together: every skein is a symbol of those moments. My job is to make them come to be in real life.

And this is true, too: the gift my lupus gives me is that it sits me down, especially on a bad day, and demands: KNIT.

So that it becomes no longer about me.