Let’s be friends!
Saturday December 31st 2016, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Yesterday the young parents across the street were out in front with their small children, a girl old enough to proudly ride her red tricycle (cute helmet!) and her little brother, who is old enough to run and grin but not old enough to do much in the way of speech yet, or at least not so’s he’d let on to non-family.

They saw me and waved an enthusiastic hi! and she wheeled and he followed. I sat down on the sidewalk so I would be looking up at them and the little girl promptly got off her bike and sat down too so that she was looking up at me anyway. The little boy stood to the other side of me and grinned and grinned, his specialty.

I had been claimed. I was utterly charmed.

I showed them the yellow oxalis flower buds with the clover-y leaves that take over our front this time of year and told her, They close up at night or when there’s a shadow but when the sun shines on them they open right up and you can see them. You are welcome to pick some any time.

She gathered a bouquet. He watched intently, not missing a thing.

So this morning with Christmas vacation week still in effect the little ones wanted to come over and say hi and Richard told me, That’s the doorbell.

We said hi and I ran to go get my hearing aids. They don’t go in till the hair’s dry but that had been an hour earlier.

Meantime, the little brother had seen my small-boy-centric basket of toys near the door and when I came back around the corner he was playing with a sturdy Tonka digger truck in delight. The mom was apologetic that the kids had gotten past her as she and Richard had chatted, but no, no, you’re very welcome, come on in!

We had a grand time till the mom had to say a no to the daughter and there was a tiny meltdown and they headed off.

You know? I’d been looking for the motivation to do a major once-over on the house today after all that intense knitting that had allowed other things to slide the past few days. The floor is mopped and swept now, the bathrooms cleaned, the kitchen scrubbed, even half the fridge. Not that we’ll remember any of what wasn’t done when they came–just the joy.

The drive band is askew on my spinning wheel. And I can’t wait for them to come back.

Saturday December 31st 2016, 12:01 am
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Ends needed to be woven in, seams sewn, stitches picked up… My favorite tasks. Not. And I’d lost my deadline.

So instead of finishing the sweater, I spent the day knitting the cowl I had cast on earlier yesterday when I didn’t know yet that that yarn rescue was about to happen.

I had one cone of 64/36 fine cashmere/fine cotton (on sale through December–note they’re on England time, 150g/$18 ppd) and had wound it into three equal balls and knit them together. No scouring, no plying, just go.

There was no way I could do it in a day. I wanted it done today. It’s not large but it’s done. Helped by the fact that I landed on my knee outside along with the same part of my upper foot I broke six weeks ago, sliding out from under me the same way. This time icepacks made a difference so I don’t think I broke anything. Sit! Knit!

Measured before blocking it’s 9″ long and 22″ wide and it will be growing larger in just a moment. What surprised me is how solid it looks but how light it feels, so I weighed: it’s 40g, and I have 114g left. (Colourmart tends to wind a little extra on.) For my $18 I could get three cowls out of this and even without having scoured it first, even with the mill oils still in, it feels like–this is cashmere. And someone who likes bright colors is really going to love this one.


(Edited to add, one really ought to look up a new word before posting it but in this case we’re safe. “Smalt,” their description of the color, is “glass colored blue with cobalt oxide” or a dye made from that glass when ground up. That fits it quite well.)

On the way
Friday December 30th 2016, 12:15 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

This didn’t get finished in time.

In part because I ran out of yarn. I had made a baby hat, weighed it, measured it, and thought yeah I have plenty to make a matching sweater. Well but no I didn’t: there was no third skein different-dyelot emergency backup like I thought, either. Oops.

I searched my stash. There was more Malabrigo Rios but there wasn’t any Bobby Blue nor one that would do as a contrast color.

I do love that I got to use the musk ox needle (bought as a souvenir there last summer) as both stitch holder and working needle on this particular project. It needed to be part of it.

I’d started at the back, added and subtracted for the sleeves and then come down the front. I had not planned on a cardigan but somehow in the adding and subtracting stitches I discovered the knit 2 purl 2 was going to turn into a knit 4 at dead center–man. Someone goofed. (Note that I was totally winging the whole thing–there is no pattern.)

Typing that out it hits me that I could have added two more stitches and turned it into a cable going down from the V. If I’d thought of it in time. I would probably have just made it but with zero left to finish that neck a little more neatly.

Adding a button band and around the neck meant more ribbing and more yarn and I just plain didn’t have it. I would need to see the colors in person and had no way to get to a shop. Post-concussion, I’m not driving yet.

So it didn’t go into Michelle’s luggage to be proudly hand-delivered to her big sister and brother-in-law in Alaska tonight.

I did show off to Richard that all those funny angles I’d been knitting actually looked like a baby sweater now.

We all piled into the car and he asked, Which airport?


Oh, okay, not San Jose, good thing I asked.

We were almost there when he asked me, Do you want to go to your yarn store in South San Francisco on the way home?

Me, surprised: Yes! Sure! Thank you! It hadn’t even occurred to me or I’d have brought it with! (Thinking, this not-driving thing gets SO old and here he’ll be taking me to the very place that dyelot came from!) I opened my phone and checked their hours. We were good.

And that is how once again we ended up at Cottage Yarns together at rush hour to Kathryn’s surprise. Remember those skeins of Bobby Blue I bought to go into stripes in that afghan? I asked her. They weren’t bright enough. She nodded. I did a hat and sweater instead–I need contrasting, or something, for the button band.

She knew right where the Bobby Blue was and opened the bag with the same dyelot mine had come from.

And we were good to go. And did. And drove home in the mildest rush hour week of the year.

Chez Betty
Wednesday December 28th 2016, 11:58 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

Monday morning, we picked up the new walker in San Jose in time to head over for Betty’s birthday party with hers and mine stuffed in the car so that I could return hers with thanks. She may never use it again but she needed the hope that our expecting that she would could offer her. Our birthday girl was 92.

We parked on the street in front of the facility. It was a large assisted-living place with a step-up unit for those who could no longer do much for themselves, and Betty had been moved to that side whose front door now faced us.

Richard went for her red one and I reached for mine. Getting the black one out of the car, it was new and stiff and didn’t want to open back up. I had no idea why; I knew they were supposed to be able to lock closed but I hadn’t done that because I didn’t know how yet, and as I puzzled over the thing a moment Richard came around the car and started to try–just as three women coming off their shift with housekeeping badges on their pink uniforms saw us and rushed down the driveway to come help.

They didn’t actually know any more than we did; how could a rollator be hard? But it was just then and we got some good giggles in together while trying. At last the seat support straightened out and we were able to be on our way, having just made impromptu friends.

Every person we met inside was just like that–loving, eager to help, not the least jaded but rather tender and gracious towards each person under their care. I had no idea a nursing home could be like that but it was about as ideal as it could be.

If I ever end up in such a place I want to end up in such a place.

Late December gathering
Tuesday December 27th 2016, 12:22 am
Filed under: Food,Friends

Good friends, good talk, good times, and the day is done. (Thank you Nina and Rod!)


Edited to add, hey, LynnM, I got yet another delayed bounce message; do you have any other email address I can respond to? Thanks.

Monday December 26th 2016, 12:48 am
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I tried to give the hat to Marguerite. She gently offered that I might want to give it to her husband directly.

And so when I saw him I stopped him and told him about his mother-in-law’s wish that I might make him such a thing just like that. She had quietly hoped a long time for it to come to be.

In the conversation he mentioned that they had seen my Facebook photos of Andy Mariani’s amazing peaches and so had made a trek to his farm and discovered the place for themselves. When I mentioned that his and Andy’s extra-fine merino hats shared that oatmeal yarn, that just did him in. The joy in his face! It was all so unexpected. So perfect. And at that my very non-physically-demonstrative friend, overwhelmed, reached over and gave me a quick hug. He looked like it was either that or have his eyes leak in spite of himself.

I cannot begin to say how grateful I am I got that done while Jean was still alive to see it. Only, she hasn’t yet. She’s off visiting grandkids and great grandkids and will be back shortly–still jetsetting at 90, and now with an extra little thing to look forward to when she flies home.

Merry Christmas!
Saturday December 24th 2016, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Our ‘net just crashed again. Richard checked everything here and then we talked to someone who was working customer support on Christmas Eve at Comcast. They are sending some poor schmuck out on Christmas Day to fix a problem they identified on their end.

Edit: scratch that–he just called them back and asked them to wait till Monday to let the person have their day off. They were happy to oblige. Heck, I was all ready to invite them to Christmas dinner, especially if it was the same guy as last week.

Suddenly we are (probably briefly) up again and I am typing fast: Happy Birthday, Maddy!

Wishing a Merry Christmas to all, a Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends, and the peace of the season however one might celebrate it at this time of the returning of the light.

The post office guy, part two
Saturday December 24th 2016, 12:01 am
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life,Mango tree

Random count-the-fruit-on-that-branch photo. The flowers are starting to drop in tiny stars on the ground below.

Richard dropped me off at the clinic this afternoon, where I hoped the doctor would tell my hand was all healed while he headed off to the airport to pick up our daughter.

I was knitting when the doctor came in. That part of my life is nearly back to normal.

Nope. The bone in the knuckle isn’t done yet: five more weeks. But the pinky is healed and I can now take the velcro off when I’m showering or washing my hands. Good, because those things are sponges–after the last five weeks, they were getting pretty rank. I got a new set and spares.

Richard and Michelle picked me up and we took our famished daughter out for a quick bite before dragging ourselves out grocery shopping for the weekend.

I wanted to go to the nearest place and be done with it. She said, you know, that huge Safeway (in the next town over yonder) has more stuff that I can eat.

And so that’s where we went.

Which is how we ended up in the same store at the same time as the guy who’d given up his place in line at the post office. He saw me before I saw him and he stopped right there, his face lighting up in recognition and delight. I did the same.

It was enough. We held each other in our eyes for just long enough–and then, with a nod, carried silently on, with him not wanting to interrupt my daughter next to me but both of us sure to have a merrier Christmas or whatever holiday one might wish for for having had that moment.

He had no way to know what had happened the day after he’d seen me–the c-spine, the ER.

But he got to see that yes, I was using a walker. And I could get across that store now, supported and safe. It had all come together. And I got to see how happy that made him.

For Jean’s sake
Thursday December 22nd 2016, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Years ago, I designed and knitted something that my friend Jean thought would be really special if I were to make one for a relative of hers whom I’ve known and admired for years. She really hoped.

She had no idea what it’s like to knit an intense fair isle pattern nor that that’s a type of work I just don’t do often enough to have it come naturally. It was, in the end, just a hat, a very finite number of rows no matter the anticipated agony (which it wasn’t really in real life once I got down to it), but it ended up in my someday/it would be nice/I want to have knitted not to have to knit it column.

She mentioned on one other occasion how perfect its motif would be for him and when nothing happened, she didn’t want to bug me and that was that.

Except that it wasn’t. I actually really wanted to do it. And I quietly did, once, (they never knew) and didn’t realize till I was finished that I had totally goofed the pattern over here and that it would take more time to unwind the strands and undo it than to just start over. So I should just start over.

I was feeling a little burned, though; how about we give that pattern a rest and do something else first. And you know how queues jump off from there.

Fast forward, oh, I dunno, at least half a dozen years…

I saw her daughter Marguerite Tuesday evening at a Relief Society (i.e. church woman’s group) Christmas social, and asked, Do you remember?

It took her a moment, then, Yes, I do!

Your mom always wanted me to make one of those for your husband. I’ve just spent a whole week thinking about your mom, and then I got this really nice long handwritten note in the mail from her today, totally unexpected, where she thanked me again for knitting her that angora shawl years ago.

(I didn’t mention that that had been so long ago that I didn’t even know how to knit lace then! It was just stockinette, but Jean had loved it. It was in angora so that her blind husband could feel the softness. He’s been gone for some time now.)

I continued, that really hit me and got me over whatever was in my way: today I cast it on.

She was surprised and thrilled, and told me, Mom told me she was writing you a note. She told me she’d been thinking about you all week.


I said, I’m doing it to honor Jean and all of you. I love your family.

I didn’t tell her that the yarn was from Colourmart and I’d scoured and pre-shrunk one of the colors but only one–the leftover yarn from Andy Mariani’s hat. So I knew what its gauge would be. The other yarn of the same type was surprisingly thin-looking, a third less full before the blooming process, and that made guessing right on the stranding tension…interesting. Every single float across the back had to have enough stretch for the hat to fit comfortably but it couldn’t be loose enough to poke through the stitches and show out the front. Every single one. In a yarn I hadn’t tried fair isle on before. It took a lot of attention (and untangling!) The alternative was to hank, scour, and wait a day while it dried and then rewind it but since that bug had finally bitten me I wanted to grab it before it got away from me. Knit it. NOW.

I started that hat Tuesday and I finished it last night and I scoured it today. You have to. Those mill oils have to go. That wasn’t a yarn store yarn, all nicely washed and prepped after the milling. I haven’t ever done that after the knitting with an extra fine merino before, much less for something that has to fit. I knew the wool would both fluff out and shrink a lot and that’s why I’ve always done it beforehand when working from cones. Silk is my only exception.

Every float is perfect. The fit is perfect. After much obsessive checking along the way, the pattern is perfect.

Because it’s for my 90-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor friend Jean, as well as her beloved son-in-law Russ she is so close to, and nothing else could possibly do.

At the very end of the day
Thursday December 22nd 2016, 12:06 am
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I had wanted to make this for them for years. It all came together yesterday and today. Story later, but, I did it, it’s DONE. If I had known exactly what it would be looking like at the end it would have been begun long ago. It is deeply satisfying (not to mention a relief, not that they knew anything about any of this) that at long last they get to have it.

Earlier today, my computer keyboard somehow came unplugged and it took awhile to figure out what the problem was. I think it was the universe saying, hey you. Get to work.

Happy Birthsday!
Tuesday December 20th 2016, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Family

Happy Birthday to Parker! And my mom, who is Parker plus eighty. I really like that.

So far so good
Monday December 19th 2016, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

We’re not quite yet down to the 28F degrees (and 56 under the mango covers) of the last few nights but it’ll come close again.

Happy as a clam under there.

Most of the flowers are supposed to be male, but it looks there’s been no shortage of female ones.

We have baby mangoes.

Black is the new green
Sunday December 18th 2016, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Michelle was in town on business and of course had the weekend off. And so yesterday we drove to a mobility shop together for some mother-daughter time and tried out walkers.

Good thing. One had really too narrow a seat, and I am by no means a big person–that was a surprise. Another had two carry bags, which was what I was looking for and had hoped to find in person, but it came in a height that left my feet dangling in the air like a little kid’s. That part wasn’t adjustable.

Then there was this one over here that was like Betty’s and it was just right. One bag would do (not for Stitches West, but then hey, neither could two.) It was the color of my favorite childhood bicycle, that metallic green prompting all kinds of happy memories (never mind that time I collided into a car at a blind curve on a steep hill and my parents were in New York and the neighbor college student taking care of us drove me to the ER and I got to ride in her VW Bug! And that was really cool! I am told that a cop later came to her door and demanded why she hadn’t filed a police report, and Ms. Hibbert retorted in righteous indignation, I was worried about the child! …Who had all of a sprained wrist. My cool orange rubber Tony the Tiger handlebars earned by so many cereal box tops had taken the brunt of it. One was never the same, and was lamented.)

And all that.

Michelle: Mom. Black. Visual overload, remember?

Me: But I really like that green.

Michelle: M o o o m…

My new black walker with seat and brakes and single bag will arrive in a day or two and they will call to tell me to pick up my order and I am actually excited about having one at last. The one I’m borrowing makes things so much easier. A bonus I had not expected: I can wrap my wrist through the handles of my purse (because one does not leave it snatchable) while having its weight on the seat–no more having it fall off my shoulder when I wobble and catching and ripping hair out of my head. Which has happened many times with the cane.

I am writing this on my Mac via working internet. We got an automated phone call yesterday telling us chirpily that our internet was back now!

Uh, no. Try again.

And so at long last Comcast sent a truck out today (we would rather not have had them have to work on Sundays but this was not a choice we were offered) and so tonight, just before dark, I went to cover the mango tree and found myself waving hi and calling out thanks to the lineman on the pole just over the property line.

He came down and over to our house. Had that worked?

Us, testing: No.

Him: Huh.

Turns out the pole had taken damage in the storm and then had started working again for everybody except somehow just us. Richard proved to him that things were working inside our house and he went back out and tried again.

He was just as happy as we were when that did it. Good man. He exclaimed, Wow, you have nice neighbors: every single one of them told me sure go ahead when I needed to go in their yards to check the lines.

I need to thank them, too.

Out for a stroll
Friday December 16th 2016, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Finished the hat and cast on the next instantly: the bug has decisively bitten.

Meantime, we decided to test drive the walker idea in the real world and went out for a scoop of Smitten ice cream, which is inside a large grocery store.

Strolling the aisles, Richard watched my walking-on-jello gait a moment and remarked, “You know, if you ran into any of your friends you would really scare them.”

Naaah. They’d get a scoop and come join us and make Ministry Of Silly Walks jokes, just like he and Phyllis and Lee did when they dropped off the walker.

Running right along
Thursday December 15th 2016, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Knit

I knitted all day yesterday. Iced my hands and went right back to it. Started 440 yards Tuesday, finished it tonight, and started in on a hat that is now a third done.

At some point (“Check back in 24 hours for further updates ” just now on restoration of our  ‘net service)  I’ll be able to show them off.

And the walker. It is dark red. It is borrowed. It is wonderful. It is time.