From silk to merino/silk
Friday June 30th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

If I could get my phone to let me take another picture, I’d show you the half-done one I started this morning in navy 4-ply Scrumptious by Fyber Spates. Take this pattern, move the decreases to the centers of the diamonds, dark blue, there you go.

Yesterday’s silk came out such that when I tried this cowl on and looked at how it shimmered under the skylight, I instantly wanted to make more like that for more people and I do have more colors of that dk silk in my stash.

The Scrumptious was not one of them. But somehow this morning it wheedled its way onto my needles anyway and told me it wouldn’t take more than a day or two, promise! So I’m trying to hold it to that.

It made it up to me as I went along with it by reminding me how (name redacted)….wears navy a lot… And could use a hug right now.

And a superwash merino blend is likely to be a lot less stressful on a new mom than pure silk might be.

Thursday June 29th 2017, 6:48 pm
Filed under: Life

That time they drew the black line on the display glasses to order where the bifocal line should be and you said it was too high so they redrew the line but you wondered about it still but they’re the ones who know their job right and they went ahead and the glasses came in and you took them home and you put them on and the line was just barely below center in your vision when you’re walking and you couldn’t see the kitchen counter and it threw off your balance and you could only see if you tilted your head down a bit and that doesn’t work when your husband is 6’8″ and you’re 5’5″ and you took them back the next day and explained that you were in a car accident years ago and your ability to balance at all depends on visual feedback and you have to be able to see like you did with your old glasses and they said well these are crooked anyway here let me fix those for you and then they put the new glasses back on you and asked you to check them out and you stood and turned to see across the room to get the depth-perception thing going and to see where that line was now and next thing you knew you were falling over backwards and splat on the floor and the store was freaking out and the manager wondered if he needed to file an incident report and you said you were fine and thanks for the icepack and they called someone and spent half an hour filling out an incident report and had you sign it and you realized afterwards you couldn’t tell the difference between city and county and what were their names when you were filling it out and hesitated and wrote the wrong one and why does your writing look so bad but it came back to you pretty fast so that’s okay and you filled in the right one next to the wrong one and you told him you tell your kids you’re going to be a terror when you’re 90 and he cracked a smile for the first time and took a deep breath?

Yeah that time. Today. That was the time they decided they were going to redo those glasses for you and could you just leave the one pair with them so they could make sure they got it right and then bring the other pair back and they’ll duplicate it once they knew those were good?

Just her color
Wednesday June 28th 2017, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Now that I know how to make the dk silks in my stash work up well into a cowl and how they look and behave when I do… (Mine is like these, somewhat darker and greener than the fawn.)

That’ll be a good stopping point. I’ll put it down when I get there.

Okay, fine, so, the end of the row after that, then.

(Finally…) enough. Stop. Put it down.

It will be done by tomorrow. But not, no matter what my hands and eyes still want at this hour, tonight.

Tuesday June 27th 2017, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

The picture’s the bright-light version of the colors, which are generally more subdued.

There was a baby shower tonight for someone who was a one-year-old with our then-one-year-old daughter when we moved here, and the best anniversary present my husband gave me was to urge me to go ahead to the party and enjoy.

I got there right at starting time–and there was Vivian and a chance to talk to her in an aside without its being in front of lots of other people and at a time when she was not having to deal with movers nor small children.

The blue I finished a week ago. The brick silk was an abandoned project that I hadn’t been able to make myself frog but at that gauge it just hadn’t been working as a rectangular scarf: the weight of it was going to pull and sag the stitches long over time the way loosely-spun loosely-knit silk can do and it had sat there hogging that pair of needles for a year.

Knowing she liked orange had gotten me to pick it up this morning, consider it sideways–hey! It does fit over the head when I pinch the edges together! (Barely.) I went to town with it, widening the pattern so it would go around the neck in layers just so. I am totally glad I saved that! (I did have to put a seam up the back.) UFOs can be great to have in a pinch, and she really liked it. She loved them all.

She laughed when I quoted her, “All the colors. Mostly orange. Blue is good.”

And then I told her this: I had bought that variegated Joseph’s Coat yarn from my old friend Lisa Souza maybe ten years ago and it had drifted to the far regions of my stash.

But somehow, and it was either Friday or Saturday, I had gone through bags and bags and found it and for no reason whatsoever I had pulled it out and put it front and center in the family room, so that when I got home from church Sunday after that conversation with her there it had been. Right. There. I hadn’t even known yet that she was moving away, much less what colors she liked. I had knitted it the rest of that day and all the next.

I found it intriguing how the yarn had split itself into three sections: the yarn was the same yard after yard but how it came out was not. “Kind of like raising children,” I said, and she laughed again.

She loved them all, but that one. That one spoke to her.

Her outfit looked like she had picked it out to match that cowl and she proudly wore her Lisa Souza the rest of the evening.

And then.

It was a large turnout: older women who’d known Kimber all her growing up (or almost, in my case), young women she’d grown up with, quite the reunion, and that end table in front of her was stacked pretty high. Which is good, given how many clothes babies go through every day.

Her sister had crocheted her a soft baby blanket and everybody oohed and aahed in appreciation.

More baby clothes… Towels, binkies, lots of pink in happy anticipation of her finally getting a girl on the third try…

Almost the last one. Kimber went to pull the envelope off so she could read it and tugged hard enough that some of the wrapping paper came off along with it.

She gasped and looked at me: that had to be from me! Right?!! She knew how big that package was, too. !!! She opened the card, took a deep breath to see the rest of what was inside while filling her mom in next to her (it was really loud in that house)…

and pulled out the baby blanket.

The machine washable and dry-able baby blanket in colors she loved so much. Colors that I had struggled to push myself through. Colors that were perfect for her.

One of the older women pulled me aside afterwards. She used to be a Knitter with a capital K but it’s been awhile.

That yellow, she said. In that pattern. It’s reminding me of–I don’t remember, but it’s reminding me of…(she shook her head) something!

It was absolutely compelling to her, and driving her crazy that she couldn’t remember what it was that had been.

It’ll come to you, I promised her. It’ll come.

I just bet you it’s that she knit somebody something once….

They grow up so fast
Monday June 26th 2017, 9:23 pm
Filed under: History,Wildlife

Mathias is two months old today.

In downtown San Francisco this year, they had a pair of peregrines at the usual nest box on the 33d floor of PG&E and an egg with a second expected momentarily.

But then another pair thought that–hey look! That was the best cliff around. Gravel (they like gravel) in a protective box to keep any eagles from seeing the babies, and it’s out of the rain, even! They tussled the two earlier falcons out of there and took over. After more courting, they laid four eggs of their own and scooted the one that had been sitting there for two weeks in with theirs.

Brooding five eggs was a big job.

It had turned dark so it was easy for the watchers to tell it apart from the later ones. It did not hatch, nor did one of theirs.

But note that it’s been over a hundred years since we had enough peregrine falcons alive to fight over territory like that–they were called chicken hawks and hunted mercilessly long before DDT nearly finished them off. Those nests represent the life’s work of some very good biologists.

The site’s videographer compressed the eyases’ first three weeks into 68 seconds, here, if you’re interested. Unlike San Jose’s nest, their cameras let you hear the birds, too.

Sunday June 25th 2017, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

Blink. They’re what?! (I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, some other friends moved out of their rental house after the landlord doubled the rent, which had already been high, and it’s gone up that much again since.)

Vivian, I heard…?

“I don’t want to move again!” But yes, it looked like they were, and in the next week at that.

“But I haven’t knit for you yet!” As if that could keep them here. I don’t want them to leave.

It was like I’d thrown her a lifeline of something positive to hold onto in the stress of uprooting with kids and she answered with emotion, “I would LOVE to have something hand knit from you!”

“Alright, what colors. What are your favorite colors…”

“All of them!” and then, “Orange.”

Orange? Somehow that surprised me. Smiling ruefully, wryly, thinking about Green Planet Yarn’s being up for sale and my ever-diminishing chances to experience a yarn before I buy (and there was certainly no time to order any!) “There is not a plethora of orange in my stash.”

She laughed, and that felt good.

“What would match most of your clothes?” In case I could still make her happy with what I had at hand. “Blue, I have lots of blues.”

“Blue is good.”

And so I went home and searched through my stash, and almost immediately, because somehow just a couple of days ago I had inexplicably found it and put it Right There and then forgotten all about it, there was this baby alpaca “Joseph’s Coat” colorway from Lisa Souza‘s dyepots. All of them. Mostly orange. Blue is good. Well there you go.

And so this is what I spent most of the rest of the day on–that and our taking Michelle to the airport. What is fascinating to me is how it went from punctually-random intermixings of colors to growing stripes, definite stripes, when I changed the number of stitches on the needles. Curious. It will look like they all melted into each other at the top.

I have the plain light slightly-grayish-blue cashmere of two cowls ago as a backup, since that one didn’t go out yet and given that I am suddenly on such a tight time frame.

I finished typing the above, looked again, and finally figured it out: it looks like the pinwheel-on-a-stick toy of my youth that you blew on to make the colors twirl around to see if you could get it going fast enough to make them all run together. The center always did the most.

It takes the cake
Saturday June 24th 2017, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Recipes

I was in the home stretch, one eye on the clock, thinking, I can get this done before bed and even still get a little blogging time in.

Michelle, who’s in town for her friend’s wedding, texted me: could I? Pretty please?

She’d been going to make an almond cake from the fresh almond paste she got at Milk Pail this afternoon: one of the perks of a trip home. But there was no way she was going to get back from that reception in time tonight–it takes an hour to bake.

Well, hey, I can make one of those really fast… (The recipe says baking powder in the list of ingredients, baking soda in the instructions. Do it in baking powder.)

The cast-off was finished at 10:55. The cake came out at 11:00 pm. I did it!

Memo: While You Were Out
Friday June 23rd 2017, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Recipes,Wildlife

Cooper’s hawk. Adult. Right there, intently watching my patio and back door as I came around the corner of the yard from trimming back the kids’ old climbing tree that had been shading my tomatoes a bit.

I stepped quickly back behind the house–but I think my startling it cost it its dinner. Sorry about that.

I came inside a few minutes later with  these Yellow Transparents. It is a sign of how different things are this year, drought-wise, that I still have plenty on my tree, proof that the squirrels don’t touch the tart stuff unless they’re starving: this year they have better options.  (Whatever they are out there, starting with my California Coffeeberries).

A little apple juice, four small quartered apples, cover, zap five minutes, cool, scrape off the skins and voila! Apple sauce for two.

And a Mathias picture just because.

For Megan
Thursday June 22nd 2017, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I wished, I wished, I wished I had a particular shade of blue in my stash.

I’d seen her wearing it so I knew she liked it and I knew it looked great on her. The hank I’d overdyed a few days ago wasn’t bright enough nor solidly blue enough. If I drove down to Green Planet (anyone want a yarn store? Beth would love to sell it to you so she can attend to her family) maybe they would have something–but having such a firm idea of the exact shade I wanted, that was no sure thing and it would have to be in a yarn I liked enough. No skimping.

After a week or so of this I realized at last that I did, and found it: one of my last few skeins of the discontinued Cascade Epiphany in a deep royal, a cashmere/silk/royal-grade baby alpaca, long and carefully hoarded. It was just the thing.

We threw her a potluck birthday party at lunch today and I had to confess that I had not finished it but I let her see just enough of that blue.

That was all she needed. She was wearing an exact match to it (in something I hadn’t seen her in before) and exclaimed, That’s my favorite color!

The race is on, then, to finish it in time to be blocked come Sunday.

(p.s. Thank you, everybody. Today was much better than the last few, to my great relief. And it was all the better for my daughter Michelle having arrived in town for a wedding.)

June 12 vs 21
Wednesday June 21st 2017, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Life,Mango tree

Y’know, sloshing the brain around in four falls in four days is just not a great idea. I’m putting me on timeout.

Meantime, the mango tree is sprouting in the 88-106F heat wave this past week. The leaves that were red on the 12th have turned green and the new shoots from then have new half-grown red leaves now. (Second picture taken at a brighter time of day.)

The thicker the trunk grows, the hardier it becomes against future cold.

Impromptu block party
Tuesday June 20th 2017, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Friends,Wildlife

7:30 p.m. I was taking a bin to the curb when the little kids across the street called out and waved an enthusiastic hi to me. I waved hi back.

And then I ducked quickly down the side yard to check to make sure before I said anything: was she there? She was!

So I went back over and asked the parents and their two little kids if they’d like to see a mother mourning dove on her nest?

Yes! Please!

I explained that when my own kids were that size, we’d had a woodpecker nest that my husband could hold the kids up high to see into, and how much we’d loved that.

And so I showed them the nest: there, up on top of the ladder.

Their mom hoisted them up one by one to give them a better look. The dove, as always, stayed quietly put, observing the observers.

They hopped skipped and jumped back down the walkway–and saw their buddy, who lives two doors down. His parents had seen them outside playing and had started out the door to join them when they had all suddenly disappeared into my yard. And so I asked them, too, and we all went back and looked again, two pairs of little ones now and two moms. (The dads were invited but seemed a bit shy to intrude.)

Where is it? Oh! There!

She’s well hidden, isn’t she? I asked. Tippy toes and mommy’s arms.

And then the kids, being kids, ran off around the corner because they wanted to explore the hidden treasure of a backyard they’d never been in. The moms started to call them away and I invited them to hey, come on back. Such a delight to have little kids running around in my back yard again.

What kind of tree is this? Oh, you’ve got tomatoes!

Turns out one had been wanting to know how better to fend off the critters from her oranges.

Turns out the other had needed a listening ear on how to feel like you’re still a good mom when you’re badly sleep deprived with a three year old and a fifteen-month-old, and didn’t know she had someone right there whom she could talk to about it, someone who knew–but she does now. “Wow, four in six years?”

“Yeah,” I laughed and said in all honesty, “I don’t know how I did it.”

I owe that momma dove a great big thank you for sticking around and starting a new clutch of eggs.

Monday June 19th 2017, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Life

Beep beep.

Huh. It was early. My hearing aid batteries always signal they’re on their way out on Tuesdays. Okay, whatever. I went to where I keep the battery pack cards–but when I picked the last one up out of the little Mel and Kris jar I keep them in, it was empty.

I searched my purse. The last card in there was empty, too. Oh right. That happened on our last trip–I was going to remember to restock it when we got home.

I searched my last-ditch backup. No luck. I did find one full card there of the wrong size, for the old hearing aids I haven’t worn for three years.

But I never run out of batteries! It’s too important not to!

Which is how I ran out of batteries, because I don’t expect to, because I’m usually so careful, and that ear was going down fast.

Beep beep. Okay, good, it’s still going.  You never know how many pairs of beeps you’ll get; sometimes two, once, five, in varying numbers of minutes apart. Usually after the third set it plays a loud nine-note downward scale and off, operatic in its death throes.

I hopped in the car and headed for Costco, knowing that the pharmacy was closing in under ten minutes. I hit the light wrong. I hit the parking spot right (that never happens). Seven on the nose as far as I could tell. I was halfway across the store when they flipped off the lights in the pharmacy, and as I rushed, one pharmacist saw me coming and pretended he didn’t and ducked out of sight. His day was over and if he stopped, the customers never would–he was outta there.

I asked the other (reluctant) pharmacist, in those last few steps, if I could have hearing aid batteries?

Over there, he motioned. He had not yet pulled down the metal cover, he had not yet pulled them off the end of the counter to where they would be fully inside once he did, but then he wasn’t about to get them nor ring them up for me, either. I moved an abandoned cart out of the way and squinted in the low light.

Size 312. If I’d been ten seconds later I would have been out of luck. (And I know the premium price the drug store charges for those.)

My audiologist simply gives them to me as part of the price of my $8888 aids for as long as I should wear them. (People like me pay for all the R&D that benefits everybody else.) I just have to remember to pick them up.

The third beep beep happened in the parking lot as I checked around me: nobody was waiting for my spot. Good. I wrestled that thick blister pack open and changed the right-side battery and drove off relieved and happy into the early stages of sunset.

Sunday June 18th 2017, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

An old friend was in town for the first time in twenty years–I confess I didn’t recognize her. But she definitely recognized me at church and made a beeline for me.

She laughed when I told her she’d just solved a mystery for me: I have this knitting friend who, all the time I’ve known her I’ve tried to figure out just who it is she reminds me of.

We’ve all got doppelgängers out there somewhere, right? And now she knows who knows who hers is.

Happy face yarn
Saturday June 17th 2017, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit,To dye for

Showing off Andy’s Bing and Rainier cherries, before the sugar/flour/cinnamon/almond and top crust.

Meantime, this was some 50/50 merino/silk from Colourmart, and I knew from knitting my brother a hat out of it in double strands of navy that it was warm, soft, and well spun, I knew my hands loved the stuff, but all they had left was this faded dusty taupe/sage mix that did not do a thing for me. Cannot beat that closeout price, though– (150 g/$12 ppd) –all it needed was a little work.

Hank, scour the mill oils out in hot soapy water, overdye, rinse, then wind it up once it’s dry. Jacquard Acid Dye in (not a whole lot of) Bright Blue with just a touch of vinegar in the pot that helped the yarn take up the dye during the simmering.

It’s still got just a bit of earthy tone in some lighting from its ancestral color but I like it much better now.

The Royal treatment
Friday June 16th 2017, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Quick, before the cherries were gone for the season. We’d both been craving more cherry pie and there’s only one place to get good enough ones to make it out of. So I headed down to Andy’s Orchard.

I left at 1:30 but it was already a long stop-and-go drive on the way down; whether it was the Bay Area emptying out for the weekend or (reading the police blotter in the news later) the stolen car an hour before, I don’t know.

Now, my hubby has never been an apricot fan so I only buy myself a few at the grocery store every year or so and I’m always disappointed when I do. And yet, knowing that Andy only grows what tastes good and he only picks and sells it ripe, I bought two pounds of the old heirloom Blenheims. Why wait a whole ‘nother year to give them a try? And then I added two pounds of Royals to compare to (pictured). They were huge!

Plus Bing and Rainier cherries and some Gold Dust peaches because hey–that had been the point.

I got home at long last and savored one of those perfect Rainiers. And then, out of curiosity, I picked up one of the Royal apricots: got to get going on those, right? I zapped its halves in the microwave in part because I wanted to see what kind of sauce I could make out of it. I pulled the peel away.

What was left tasted like–a peach. Nearly. But all its own. I’d had no idea apricots could taste like this. I’d had no idea what I’d been missing. None. Glorious. Wow.

Resisting the impulse to run go plant another tree…