What I did for ohIdunno, awhile there
Tuesday November 15th 2016, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Knit

Maybe 30, 40 minutes, no biggy.

I haven’t splurged on an oak skein winder and ballwinder set yet, even if I admire the handcrafted ones at Stitches every year; there’s a fellow who makes beautiful ones and I’m sure I’ll think hard about it again come February. I always do. (See? I’m still talking myself into it.) Think of all the time I could save, and all those nice flat cakes that don’t roll around all over the place while you’re trying to knit.

And yet.

I know I’ve said it before, but I do like these.

(Yarn: dk cashmere in what they call a set i.e. closeout, eight ounces from a larger cone, was a traffic-cone vivid orangey-red; I hanked, scoured, and overdyed it with a little black and got a deep brick with hints here and there of the rose that the camera favors. No nostepinne involved, just me.)

The little carry-around project
Tuesday November 15th 2016, 12:00 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

…Is spinning out in the washing machine right now after a brief dunk.

I bought the yarn at Stitches a few years ago from a vendor who had driven across the country for the show and who really, really needed the sale more than I needed the yarn. I looked for a color that grabbed me and ended up with something that was nice but not overly thrilling. Practical. It was very soft, an extra-fine merino, so someone would surely love what that skein could become.

I grabbed it the other day when I couldn’t find anything else fast enough for the gauge I wanted to do (read: speed knitting) while in a hurry to get out the door. Then I was stuck with it, given that I like to finish things.

I wanted it done and out of my way. The two skeins from Imagiknit should show up in the mail tomorrow or the next day and then I can get on with that baby afghan I’d rather be working on, but meantime, maybe I could even do another cowl after this one before they come–if I hurried.

I have wondered why on earth I grabbed that dark periwinkle skein over everything else and who it was to be for.

Tonight as I knitted and knitted and knitted very suddenly I totally knew, and felt dumb that it hadn’t hit me earlier: it was so obvious. It couldn’t have been anyone else, and it would have been done sooner had I had any idea.

Let me go check if that machine’s done. Time to lay it out just so. Ah, yes it is.

So very glad I got this knitted up.

The way forward
Sunday November 13th 2016, 11:51 pm
Filed under: Politics

If you can stand one more political post, I would recommend this one, written by a conservative.

And thank you DebbieR for the heads-up that got me to go find the letter from a former longtime employee of Trump’s.

Make unto thee no raven images
Sunday November 13th 2016, 12:12 am
Filed under: Mango tree,Wildlife

The crows and ravens and I have an understanding: they do not land in my yard.

And they don’t. They tend at breeding season to test me as to whether this is still true, I chase them off when they try just once, and that’s that. Every year.

I’ve wondered if they had a sense of smell, and have often thought surely they would have to; how else could they scavenge? And so I found this really cool article on the whole subject of birds and smell and how oh yes they do, and why historically it was wrongly thought that they did not.

So. Two days ago to my great surprise a raven landed not only in my backyard but not at all far away from me and where I could see it out the window. Right there. Hey!

And it was staring at the mango tree while standing nearest to where the buds are.

I went outside to declare just whose territory this was in language I knew it understood and as it took off, two more–hard to tell if they were crows or ravens, their height was near the top of the redwood–were cawing loudly and flying towards me. That is definitely one type of bird I can hear.

I waved my arms and the closest veered instantly away over the neighbors’ just short of the fenceline.

Right. As if I could touch it from where I am. The second was coming up just behind where the first had, I waved my arms again and it veered sharply away, an instant replay, and they all went silent.

Mangoes have the most intensely scented, marvelous flowers of anything I’ve ever grown–mine bloomed just once a few months after I planted it and I’ve been wanting ever since to smell that glorious scent again.

The new, tightly closed buds have no smell–to me.

But as far as I can tell, that raven wanted to see what its nose said it had to have enough to risk my seeing it standing there.

Glad I saw it out there. Don’t know if it works on ravens but it might be time to start the fake dead crow at last.

Tic-tac-toe at ten repeats, forty to go
Friday November 11th 2016, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift

From the woman who likes to think that she never, ever starts a project without having enough to finish.

I did that. Inadvertently. Who knew I was going to make all the changes I did after I got going.

(Can you just see baby boy fingers yanking at those white tic-tac-toes on the back? Especially should he ever get a new sibling? As in, *remember this? I might have to make him another baby blanket after this one just to, y’know, make sure he stays toasty warm up north there.)

Knowing they stock Rios, I went to Uncommon Threads yesterday for the first time in years and was well rewarded by running into an old friend who was as thrilled to see me as I was to see her–we were in a knitting group together when our children were babies. Jamie!

So. I am now at the end of my first skein of the blue/green Solis and I don’t have enough to get the afghan as long as I want with it. So I thought I’d make wide stripes: a skein’s worth of Solis, done, one of somethingelse, Solis, somethingelse, ending with Solis. That I could easily do.

I know, I tried this at Cottage Yarns last week and came home with two and then decided they were too gray.

There were just two that could work at all at UT, too, but they were a lighter shade of my Teal Feather border and I was going to need this settled pronto.

Tonight I knit a tiny swatch of it, the best test of color. The light always plays off the surface differently in the stitch than in the skein. I held it against the solid teal border under the light.

Yet again I knew even if I didn’t want to know. But hey, it looked great as a contrast to the Cottage Yarn stuff–they can go and be too gray together.

Distance and parking and time in the sun vs inventory. Imagiknit is the American distributor for all things Malabrigo.

I sent them a note: not too yellow? No gray? No streaks of black? Just happy blues and greens shading in and out? Maybe I could do it all in Solis after all, alternating the dye lots.

*Ohmygoodness, there was a comment there from our late friend Don Meyer on that post. Wistful. It was like a wave hello across time.

All in a day’s growth
Thursday November 10th 2016, 11:33 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Mango tree

And a day later, wait, are those flower buds on the new mango branch? In November?! The camera kept wanting to focus on everything but them, but clearly, this week’s unseasonal warmth has been good for the tree. Several growth buds that looked completely dormant yesterday swelled an inch today. 

Whatever this other plant is, its scented flowers always begin when the rains come and I love it.

And the afghan keeps coming slowly along.


Hanging out at the branch office
Thursday November 10th 2016, 12:08 am
Filed under: Life,Lupus,Mango tree,Politics,Wildlife

Slower growth than summer’s but still coming along there.

Meantime, the neighbors kept a compost pile for years near the other side of the fence from my mango tree.

They weren’t trying to be part of the amateur beekeeper trend, but one day a swarm liked that spot and moved right on in. I don’t think they try to harvest any honey, they’re just glad to be doing their part in supporting the population. Even if inadvertently.

Which, when they told me, explained why I get so many.

Now that the weather is chilly at night a few of those honeybees are getting their feet snagged on my frost covers again, not quite making it back to the hive for the night. Or sometimes it looks like they just got there when I arrive in the morning.

I can’t pull them off. Too close to the stingers and I don’t want to dismember the poor things. I don’t want to walk across the yard to put the cloths away and have a bunch of upset bees around me, either. So I give the underside of the cloth a good pat with an extra layer or three of fabric between us to free them, one by one; a flick if that didn’t do it.

It was good and sunny by the time it was warm enough for the day’s grand unveiling and I grabbed the big straw hat by the back door on my way out.

And so the usual routine. Six this time–off you go. Sometimes they fly free, sometimes they plummet, needing energy and warmth or (I hope not) dead. But always, always, they are ever so polite about it to the big human thwacking around their feet.

Most of today’s simply fell to the ground. The birds would soon be checking for snacks.

Stepped just inside as I shut the door behind me while reaching for my hat.

I had just long enough to wonder what burr-type thing had fallen from where to have landed on my hat or was it falling apart? My favorite! But I had seen no such thing moments earlier and it didn’t feel like broken straw edges.

Nor do straw edges bounce up and down in your hand in agitation as one’s hand closes to grasp them. Mine quickly opened and I stared, and one upset honeybee, very much invigorated and very much alive, made its quick escape to parts still unknown within the house.

And still it hadn’t stung me for all I’d put it through.

May I be as forgiving and slow to anger against the stings of yesterday’s election. I can only pray.

Wednesday November 09th 2016, 12:25 am
Filed under: Friends,Politics

My friend Diana died yesterday morning. The one I delivered the butter-yellow cowl to Angie for. I’m glad Diana lived long enough to see some of her yarn go to honor her friend who had done a great deal to take care of her in her last illness.

My trust in my fellow Americans’ belief in working for the common good died today. They actually voted for the racist, sexual assaulting, white-supremacist, Nazi-imagery-tweeting, tax-dodging, contractor-defrauding con man who wants to wipe away the health insurance of millions of their fellow Americans. Who exults in his demagoguery.

I am staggered. I feel physically ill. He is a dangerous man unlike anything we have ever put into power before.

How. Could. They.

Don’t tell me about Roe v Wade as a reason (and some have on FB), that ruling stayed intact even when there were Republican Presidents and Congresses in power together. There are medical cases where there is no other choice so there needs to be that choice for those in those circumstances. If that means erring on the side of personal responsibility instead of governmental intrusion into the most painful of circumstances, then it does. Trump himself with all his affairs is probably personally responsible for a few abortions himself.

And now they want to give this angry narcissist, out of all the people in this entire country, the codes and the power to start nuclear wars should someone insult him at 3 am.

I am deeply afraid of what he will do. I am deeply afraid of what others will feel free to do because of him.

At least Diana didn’t have to see this.

Today is Election Day
Tuesday November 08th 2016, 10:28 am
Filed under: Politics

Missed my blogging time last night because we were, for the final time, going over the very long California ballot item by item, talking it out. We don’t agree on quite everything except for how important it is to get out there and be heard.

The polls here close at 8 pm, but if you’re in line by then they have to let you participate. Please. VOTE!

So, so, so happy
Sunday November 06th 2016, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Remember when I was celebrating Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s great news about her first grandchild being on the way and how the joy of it triggered a whole round of nesting-instinct housecleaning here?

Two days later we got this surprise photo from our daughter Sam and her husband. 

Actually I’m from sort of here.
Saturday November 05th 2016, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knit,Life

Tonight was the annual Scout dinner and dessert auction.

There were a lot of really good home-baked desserts on that table and a lot of people bidding on them; it went on for awhile. I pulled out my knitting so my hands and my eyes would clearly be busy engaged in doing something else and not letting myself angle for Andrea’s chocolate caramel cake–it hit $110 and deserved it but there was no way. My own *two tortes together pulled down $95, less than last year but no small amount.

Someone across the room whom I didn’t know saw me and pulled out her own knitting. And so when it was over and I went and admired her work and introduced myself.

English was a bit of a struggle for her, although it seemed to me that she was better at it than she thought she was, and I explained that I’m hearing impaired–it wasn’t her.

She asked me where I was from.

“Washington, DC.”

“No–where are you from.”

I wasn’t sure what she was getting at.

She clarified. “What country?”

I laughed. “England, about 400 years ago. Oh, and Sweden, for my great great great (great?) grandfather.” (There were random other add-ons after the Mayflower but I wasn’t going to burden her with the whole spreadsheet.)

She laughed, “I’m from Hong Kong.” Then she proudly pointed out her grandsons, who were clearly, like me, a bit of everyone from everywhere.

We had cowls on our needles at about the same point in progress. Hers was a mobius. Mine laid flat.


*And there were two more in the fridge, one not-good-enough-for-company slightly overbaked plain chocolate, one hazelnut chocolate left over from a party I **planned for but had to miss. We really didn’t need any more desserts around here for the moment.

**Because no matter what that map program said, road A did not connect through to road B and there was no telling where it was and after much back-and-forth searching and mileage I gave up and went home (hey, hazelnut torte for us.) Next time.

We’ll see how it goes
Friday November 04th 2016, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

Tomato blossoms. In November. After all, someone’s got to feed the bees.

Re the afghan, I decided this morning that I couldn’t reconcile myself to the idea of the slightly misshapen areas that short-rowing would create. (For the non-knitters: doing a lot of short rowing at once is how you turn the heel of a sock. You get to a certain point in the row and turn and go back the other way without ever finishing the whole row, repeat as needed, then go all the way across eventually, making kind of half a pouch. For the afghan I would only have done that for a pair of rows at a time.)

I decided I had two choices–knit the thing with three sets of needles going while trying not to drop a whole lot of stitches, with smaller needles at the sides, or simply knit the sides mindfully and tightly as I go.

So I’m knitting the sides tightly. I’m also realizing they were knit more loosely not just because of their being a different stitch but because it’s so easy to zoom across the simple parts.

I was asked if it’s a pattern that’s out there already, and the answer is that I fudged one of Barbara Walker‘s color work patterns (I think it was that book, could have been the first treasury) and winged it after playing with a swatch. The afghan as a whole is nobody’s pattern but mine, to the best of my knowledge. Maybe it should stay that way, but if that ribbing does work out okay after all I’ll let you know.

When doodles go scribbly
Thursday November 03rd 2016, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Knit

Stripes. That’s all it is. That and some stitches dropped and picked back up just so.

The 3×1 ribbing around the sides, though? I’d have to block what I’ve done so far to be sure, but, it’s not compacting the way the white and green/blue variant yarns are, not being subject to the same process–so it’s getting longer faster. I think. Unless those others let go when they hit water and stretch out.

But yeah, I should have anticipated that.

The trick then would be to figure out in advance how often to short-row those edges, starting now.

The things you don’t learn from a small swatch. Every time I ever knit anything, I’m better at it the next time.

Blue to protect against the cold
Wednesday November 02nd 2016, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Mango tree

Got to Cottage Yarns but didn’t find Rios skeins that were quite, quite what I wanted. I bought two anyway and took them home and waited before knitting so as to be able to see them with my project in both natural light and after sundown, from near and from far.

There was an element of gray to them that I just could not talk myself into. The project is brighter than that. Well, they’ll make great hats for somebody, then, that’s fine.

Kathryn did, however, have eight skeins of Rios in Cerezas, a red deepened with a bit of black that was absolutely gorgeous. It will be the afghan after this one and it made it worth the trip.

Meantime, last night when the temperature dipped to where the Christmas lights auto-clicked on on the mango tree, half of them were out. Nada. One rainstorm last year, all I had to do was unplug and re-plug to reboot and that was that, but not this time. This had never happened before and I was horrified: the whole back of the tree, and on our coldest night yet, but at least that one strand was okay. I couldn’t take off the cover to work on the other without losing what heat I had under there, so I threw a third layer of frost cover over and hoped for the best.

I searched online for opaque blue C9 incandescent strands, knowing I didn’t have any more and kicking myself for not having bought backup. You want blue because it puts the least light into the night while you’re trying to sleep–although I do have some green replacement bulbs at random, and a few blues that half the paint has come off of. (See how much brighter those greens are? Glad they’re not white!)

Thirty bucks shipping would get them to me in two days (and nights!) and nobody had them in stock locally yet. Yow. I passed for the moment.

The remote read a little colder in the morning than I would have liked but it stayed above 50F and the tree looks okay. The growth-flush areas were near bulbs that were still working.

This evening I carefully unwound that second strand off the limbs and brought it inside. Plugged it in. Nope.

I had an old strand of clear lights handy and plugged that in. It worked fine.

I tested a few of the blue bulbs on it. Worked. So I took every blue or green bulb off the dead strand and every white bulb off the good strand and switched. Threw the bad strand in the recycling, plugged in the other: okay, that, that, that, and that one, more replacement bulbs. (Meaning green. Hey, it makes it match the afghan on the needles.) Test. None of these are new; I re-replaced a few.

At last I was able to go back out there and carefully rewind the new strand back into the tree, trying to aim the lightbulbs where they wouldn’t touch leaves or limbs directly, just the wires.

The whole process took nearly an hour that I tried not to think of as lost knitting time. But this is when this needed to be done, before the sun went down, and you do what you must do.

The tree is in a blue state now and it is protected from the harm the darkness had threatened it with.

One project at a time. Or not.
Tuesday November 01st 2016, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

Did not make it to Cottage Yarns before my appointment, and after, it was just too close to rush hour for that kind of distance.

So I started a new cowl project for the waiting room beforehand even though I’m usually a single-issue knitter.

My gastroenterologist had retired and this was the getting-to-know you with someone new and to get established as her patient before her practice gets full. So far I’ve had pretty good luck on the Crohn’s staying away post-op but you never know.

She spent a lot of time going over my chart with me and asked a lot of questions. She was thorough. (And, in a quick aside, she liked that yarn on my needles.)

Had I ever had a throat endoscopy done? I nodded. Who did it? she asked.

You, I grinned. In the hospital.

Oh wow! Oh so I did!

We totally hit it off. She mentioned that she loves and wears that shawl…and I thanked her but reminded her a friend of mine had knit it to thank her for her part in taking care of me when I’d been so ill in ’09. Ever since, I’d wanted her to have something from me, too–as I pulled a ziploc from my purse such that she could just see the colors inside. Pick one.

She chose the one I so much expected she would and that I had expressly knit for her. The Shibui Maai cowl. (The color is Imperial. Sorry I never took a better photo nor one of it finished.)

I told her that that was the last skein I bought at Purlescence before they closed.

Purlescence closed?

Yes, they did.

She’s a knitter. That flash of regret in her eyes at the news said it all. She stroked her new cowl and exclaimed over its intense softness and told me I didn’t have to do that.

May I, though?

She laughed and gave in and the way she loved that little bit of knitting and felt all that I’d hoped to convey with it was all that a knitter could ever hope for. I’m in good hands in her care–and she in mine.

She didn’t let me leave without a hug.