They knew the place
Friday May 31st 2019, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,LYS

The real simple solution: I put a lid on the trashcan this evening. Stifle it, eat-eth. (With apologies to Carroll O’Connor.)

The yarn store in the beach town: I went to Fillory this afternoon to show my friends who go there on Fridays that “this is all your fault” as I showed them the afghan project with a grin.

It is safe to say they approved.

One of the staff there didn’t know how to cable six across seven stitches or how the fourth one stays the middle one going straight up as the others pass over, so now those two have helped someone else learn something new as well.

While I was there, I mentioned last Friday’s incident about the tangling yarn on the skein winder, and when I got to “she went to cut it” the three women nearest me gasped audibly.

I told them thank you. It wasn’t just me, then.

But I had done nothing about it after getting no answer from my Facebook private message asking if I could send a note to the owner, and I still wondered what the right thing to do was. Just leave it be? I mean, I could imagine a new mom running on no sleep doing something stupid in a moment without thinking straight.

Or it could be what it looked like–that a depressed clerk didn’t care and she wasn’t going to put up with any more of this. But I don’t know, and I don’t want to blame nor judge. I don’t want to be mean any more than I want her to be.

We discussed how best to bring it up.

What it came down to, as it had at the first, was, if I were the owner I’d want to know. And as they pointed out, People don’t want to go back after something like that.


Okay, so, I guess that means I will try after all.

But they loved how the afghan they’d helped mentor into existence was coming out, and that and their own projects were more fun to talk about.

Then I came home just in time to watch, from inside, a Cooper’s hawk do a figure eight around the awning poles fifteen feet away in pursuit of dinner and then a loop back around the first pole. Whoosh! And away!

One giant leap for…
Thursday May 30th 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Wildlife

The picture flat-out refuses to go right side up. It’s being squirrelly.

I have, for some time now, only put safflower seeds in my bird feeder; it doesn’t attract as many varieties of birds but the squirrels won’t fight to get at it. They’ll graze the kickout below if they’re hungry enough but that’s it.

Unlike sunflower, though, you can’t buy pre-hulled safflower. And those hulls get tracked indoors and into the runners on the sliding door and that has gotten very old. So I tried to figure out how to go back to sunflower but thwart the squirrels–who LOVE the stuff.

And then I noticed the old plastic trashcan that the trash service doesn’t use anymore and didn’t take away when they changed trucks.

I put it underneath the feeder and put a mixture of the two types of seeds in there; I have 20 pounds of the safflower to use up, and that seemed a good way to start transitioning. And containing. Maybe the squirrels wouldn’t want to jump in where they couldn’t see a predator coming. (Yeah, good luck with that. I’ve seen them pulling a paper cup down low over their heads, trying to lick out every last bit of due-date whipped cream, falling over frontwards and backwards in the process while holding on tight to what made it so they couldn’t see. Squirrels are so funny!)

The other hope was to starve the rat out so it doesn’t show up again.

Of course it only took a few days for the first squirrel to want that treat enough to jump in. Even I can hear the thump from inside when they land in there. They don’t have enough of a steady surface at the top of the thing to leap upwards onto the feeder (yet), so that’s good.

I debated leaning a piece of wood against the can to entice the rat on up so I could capture it, but no: it wouldn’t be stupid enough to simply fall all the way down in there, and I wouldn’t know what to do with it if it did.

There was no appearance of the unwanted little rodent. For days. Well that worked!

Until there it was again, grabbing whatever had fallen just outside the can. Definitely still the same one as ever.

Tuesday evening all was quiet as I went to go zip up the Sunbubble for the night. Opened that sliding glass door, and…

I’m quite sure it didn’t even touch the lip on its giant kangaroo leap from the bottom of that trash can, just one big arc up and over and out. I came inside and marveled to Richard, Just how many times its height did that thing just vault? Wow.

It wasn’t till later that it hit me.

I had just invented a popcorn popper for owls.

Wednesday’s post I forgot to post Wednesday
Thursday May 30th 2019, 5:47 pm
Filed under: Knit

Costco-sized Tonka truck, rocking chair, and two-yard niddy noddy for scale in the 4:15 pm light.

I knew the bottom-edging seed stitch was going to ripple somewhat from the cabling drawing up the stitches, I just didn’t expect it to be that much. The seed section would have been longer, which would have tamped down the rippling somewhat, but it was just taking too much yarn at the time. On the other hand, I figure rippling for a girl is not the, um, tragedy, yeah that’s the word, that it would be for a boy.

That settled that
Tuesday May 28th 2019, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

One other thing about yesterday: when we got home after the yarn store/chocolate store/hardware store/electronics store jaunt (he got something out of that trip too, it was only fair), I was trying to figure out the math. Let’s see, I’ve knitted four, have six more, have seven of the new, do I do a fade of so many increasing/decreasing rows of new vs old and try for thirds of old/mixed/new, how many skeins, then, with that middle third going twice as far or using half as many of each but you don’t want it to look like quarters because the eye is pleased with odd numbers…

Richard’s take on it, was, I know how your brain works. You need to put the skeins out and see them. You need to look at them. He knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with it till I did.

He was right, and I dumped the whole shebang on the rug.

Six–there. Seven new–there. I could…

But there was only one way, clearly. Alternate pairs of rows the rest of the way through, ending with a solid last ball of the new in the seed stitch. Nothing else would look as good–even if I didn’t want the hassle of untangling strands from across the work and back for the rest of the project.

I like it. It’s looking good. Hassle? What hassle? What was I worried about? You need to do it to make it right you just do it.

Yarn then chocolate. Priorities.
Monday May 27th 2019, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knitting a Gift,LYS

Alarm went off, we got up, got ready, got out the door, got onto the main road…

And in a split second of wait, where is everybody, had a good guffaw at ourselves and turned back into the neighborhood. Oops. Yeah we had a nice vacation day Friday but today’s one, too, remember? Not to mention what it was a remembrance for. With real thanks to all those who’ve served and the differences they’ve made.

Not long after that he asked me what I wanted to do with the day, then, now that we had it.

Well, we’d already avoided holiday beach traffic for good reason, so I threw out an in-my-dreams: Imagiknit and Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco.

Was I serious?

Well, actually, yeah, I’d love, but only the purest of love would make him offer to take me to a yarn store, much less one that far away… I’d bought these three extra skeins at Fillory that were just plain too off to feel good trying to mix dye lots with and I’d been trying to reconcile myself to the thought of not only buying more but buying quite a few more. That project devours yardage. And I had to see it in person.

Imagiknit’s website said they had nine. If it didn’t work we could check Cottage on the way back to see if they’d gotten more in stock. So because my husband really is that much of a peach, off we went. And he knows that that’s one yarn store I particularly do not get in and out of quickly even when I’m trying to be good–they have all my favorites. And I so rarely get there.

I spread the afghan-so-far on their counter and the young woman manning the register pronounced, simply, Wow.

That right there made it worth the trip to San Francisco.

The other, gray-haired woman went looking for the last skein but it had apparently been bought while we were on our way there. She sent us to the second room with the stronger lighting to get a better look at the colors, apologized about that missing skein and said that if we call ahead next time they’re happy to reserve… I assured her it was okay.

I had the afghan spread out again and this time Richard took a good look at it.

I’d bought ten? That’s four skeins? That’s not enough! he said decisively (he was right), and urged me to buy all seven they had that matched.

This time, (with the shop’s permission), I took one of theirs outside into the direct sunlight to see if it matched there, too. I’d made that mistake a week ago and I wasn’t going to repeat it.

The one difference, which the older woman pointed out, was that the shop’s was more nearly solid of a color while mine had more little bits where it was lighter here and there.

I could alternate rows.

The purple was the right purple, and what were the chances I’d get that so perfect anywhere else. I bought them.

They had a ball winder and swift set-up but winding the skeins was a do-it-yourself over in their classroom space. Back to the brighter room.

I had memories of friends telling me their ball winder’s gears had been stripped by people who’d cranked it too hard and the wrong way. I was not about to ruin theirs, and I’d kept him long enough; I was ready to just go.

But it was a mechanical thing, and mechanical things are toys to entice and figure out and use and feel great about and my ever-loving sat down with that first skein, got the nod from the woman to make sure he was doing this right, and set to it.

Six skeins later his arm was getting tired and he asked if I’d mind doing the last one. Not at all.

He got to wind the soft wool for his baby granddaughter in happy anticipation of getting to meet her soon, and being able to be participate in that afghan meant a lot to him.

Four hours of knitting later, sun light, artificial light: if I didn’t know where the second dye lot comes in every second row, I wouldn’t know of it at all.

Sunday May 26th 2019, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Finished the fourth 100g ball of yarn on the afghan last night, put it down, picked up the dusty purple cashmere cowl project I’d gotten from near-zero to half during Friday’s driving and thought, I’d really like that finished for tomorrow if it is in any way possible. 120 stitches a row…

And at 11:00, hands and time demanding an end, I finished the castoff and broke the yarn. Done. It was a good length after all. Gave it a quick rinse and spinning out and set it to dry overnight, wondering who it was for.

The person I thought would pick it went straight to the Rios Anniversario cowl instead.

I was walking out the door, church over, wondering how I’d just walked through all those people and not felt that spark of hey you.

Glanced to the right and walking out the door with me was Ella.

I knitted for her once before: she was four.

I had gone to her widowed great-grandpa’s funeral. She adored him. He was part of her everyday life. He’d driven himself to a game at Stanford to cheer on his team, gotten in his car to come home, had felt the heart attack coming on and had had just enough time and presence of mind to steer away from the car in front of him on that fast busy street and plow into the unoccupied parked ones along the side instead. And he was gone.

Ella held up remarkably quietly through the proceedings for someone who was so small.

Until the moment they started wheeling his casket towards and then out the chapel’s funeral door (so named because it opens extra wide precisely for that reason) at the front of the room.

She leaped onto the bench, reaching with her arms and her whole soul towards what she suddenly seemed to have realized was gone from her forever in this life, crying: NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had this thick, cushy Robin and Russ yarn in my stash…

I overdyed it to her favorite color. It wasn’t as perfectly soft a wool as I would have liked; those were harder to find back then and outside my budget in that particular slice of time–but it was okay, and I knitted her an afghan. Her late great grandma had given me some wool yarn just before she’d passed; this was softer. Ella had had a knitter in her family and I could be her hands for her.

Ella has just finished her first year of college.

I tugged upwards at the dusty purple in my purse, and asked her, suddenly quite sure of the answer, Do you like this color?

I LOVE this color!

It was time she finally got something as soft as she deserved. I didn’t say that. I didn’t want in any way to put down the earlier gift. But man it felt good.

(I just posted this, got up to walk away from the computer, when it finally hit me: the afghan was purple, too. Just little-kid brighter, is all.)

Cutting remarks
Saturday May 25th 2019, 11:14 am
Filed under: Family,LYS

(It reminded me of the Rose Window. Pictured with a $4 trinket of a pendant/key chain thing, bought after the Notre Dame fire because one of my daughters did a semester abroad living in view of that cathedral every day. It finally showed up in the mail yesterday, just in time to meet its match.)

The story. He had the day off for the holiday weekend. Yonder daughter took the day off. Me, I’m always a little off…

We knew the holiday traffic today would be horrendous so we chose Friday to do our day tripping fun stuff. Pack things to drink, she said, we’re going to be driving for like two and a half hours, easily. Andy’s for the best cherries (and into the insulated case they go) then across the mountains to the beach town/touristy stuff/best chocolate/lunch at some new-to-us restaurant. Oh, and (not that we needed it at that point) the ice cream/sorbet for the dairy allergic that’s made in-house at that place that uses fresh fruit from the local farms. Go.

And so we did all that. I managed to drop the handmade mug with the balls of yarn motif that I’d bought at Stitches and shatter it outside the ice cream shop, but at least it cowabunga-ed off my car door holder in Surf City. Somehow that fit.

Anything else you guys want to do here before we head for home? Gotta beat rush hour.

Me, looking at my phone for choices and directions: Yeah, let’s try out one of the local yarn stores!

Them: Like you NEED more yarn! (with a slight groan.)

But hey, there was one right over there, turns out, just one block over from the ice cream shop. Well that’s handy.

I walked in there and a skein facing the door, set low in the bin, leaped out at me. Gorgeous. I did a quick cursory look around the rest of the shop but knew nothing else would live up to this. Shame there wasn’t more. It didn’t have any kind of a ball band but it was in the dk wool section and it wasn’t like it was hard to guess what it was.

Wait. There were two more at the bottom, tucked way under. I pulled them out and considered the variants in the hand dyeing, the fact that all three were different enough that you would always know where the skeins had changed, and opted for just the middle one for a cowl, or potentially a grandbaby sweater with solid colors to border it. Black? The Rose Window?

Maybe the ball band for the first was stuck under there where those came out of? I reached, and there it was, a little smushed from someone else having crammed it back in after knocking it off the skein. I smoothed it out, put it back on for the next person, thinking, c’mon, people, it’s not hard to be a little more polite to the shop and the other customers than that, and took the one I wanted to the front.

Where I told the unsmiling clerk that my family had told me I had ten minutes. (And with that, I instantly announced we were tourists they would probably never see again, not potential regulars. I didn’t know that that might be going to matter.)

Michelle popped her head in the door and grinned, It’s been nine. Just saying!

I grinned back.

The clerk did not. Everything about her screamed major depression. I wanted to help somehow if I could in what few moments I would have with her.

She asked if I wanted it wound. I would, actually, very much, thanks.

She set up the swift and the winder, and I was a little sorry that the shop owner had gone for the expensive wooden type without springing for the powered version that frees the staff to pay all their attention to their customers while it winds, like Green Planet/Fillory has. I would think that that would pay for itself over time, but whatever, not my business.

The woman cut off more yarn than I would have liked when she cut the knot tying the two ends together, but whatever.

She didn’t maintain the tension and neither did her set-up. It kept tangling. She stopped and freed the strand three times.

On the fourth time, there were only five rounds left on the swift. She picked up the scissors. (!!!!!)

Saw that I was watching, a little stunned. Oh right.

She put the scissors back down.

I said something to the effect of offering to wind the rest of it by hand myself and she took it off the winder and did exactly that.

That picking up the scissors thing was so automatic on her part that on reflection I realized it wouldn’t have been the first time she’d done it. Get rid of the nuisance. Toss the end of it. The customer would never know.

Now I need to figure out how to let the owner know. I googled to find a picture of her to make sure this wasn’t her, and it wasn’t–wrong face, wrong generation.

I want the clerk set straight, certainly not fired–but even more: I want her to get therapy. Because she’s clearly just barely dragging herself through the day and her issue is a whole lot more than cutting off nuisance yarn and cheating customers.

And maybe, trying to be charitable, it was just a stupid brain-dead moment from the habit of cutting the knots at the beginnings. But it sure didn’t look that way to me.

Story coming
Friday May 24th 2019, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Life

This was a day when computer time just wasn’t happening. I’ll tell you about our day trip tomorrow. We had fun. Night night.

Unless another one happens to pop up later
Thursday May 23rd 2019, 7:58 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family

This seems to be the last one for the season: a Red Lion amaryllis, from a bulb Dad gave me several years ago that has now split into three that need to be repotted and given their own spaces. But first they had to celebrate their old one.

Thank you, Dad! Love you!

Well, then, something to look forward to
Wednesday May 22nd 2019, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Yesterday was mostly a carry-around-project day, so today was a bit of catch-up on the afghan.

And I’d show you a pretty picture to brag about it, if the computer would just do what I tell it.

(Added in the morning: there you go.)

She was a shoe-in
Tuesday May 21st 2019, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

In the Mormon church, they try to keep congregations small enough that they stay personal. If they get too unwieldy they get split.

Trying to remember if I mentioned this… The ward we were sharing a building with no longer fit in the chapel while ours had lots of renters, and with Silicon Valley landlords raising rents through the roof a lot of people have been moving out. We shrank.

So after quite a bit of work at finding the best solution, a chunk of the other ward got moved into ours, and we’re talking eighty people. On my self-appointed project of knitting something for every woman, I had after three years finally gotten to where I only had to knit a cowl when someone new moved in. Now… Well it’s going to take me awhile. Again.

Someone came up with an idea of how to give each of the women new and old a chance to tell a little about herself: she threw a potluck dessert party at her house and told everybody to bring a shoe and a story about it to introduce ourselves by.

Which turned out to be a really cool way to let the shy and the extrovert both feel at home, so I’m mentioning it here in case anyone else ever needs an icebreaker idea.

One mom of two small boys tried to let the turn go past her, and almost got away with it but we went back to her.

She confessed she had forgotten to bring a shoe. But distracted and forgetting, she shrugged, that was the life she’s living right now with small children.

The room was full of moms and people who love other people’s kids–the laughter was warm and understanding, and she sat down clearly feeling warmly welcomed.

Which was the point.

Two skeins
Monday May 20th 2019, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Knit

Last row of the repeat: I blacked that line out extra thoroughly when I got done.

As for the work, it will stretch and curve out as it comes to weigh more and once it hits water. Right now it’s either 7″ long or 9″ with a slight smoothing out or who in the world knows once I get done. But, bigger. Definitely bigger.

Had a brief scare where the upside down V in the chart suddenly looked like a right side up V to my brain and I wondered if I’d just done three+ days of work wrong by misreading it? Those are very very different instructions, decrease two vs increase one. But no, the stitch count was still 30 per repeat.

Don’t DO that to yourself! (I did get it right the first time, but by the time I figured that out I was going, well if I goofed it worked so I’m going to keep doing it that way.)

Physicist’s knitting
Sunday May 19th 2019, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Knit

Knitting used to demonstrate physics and to work out things such as new plastic surgery techniques: here. (New York Times link.)

Knitted till the hands had to stop
Saturday May 18th 2019, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Ten skeins to a bag of hand dyed Malabrigo Rios in Hollyhock, 07 07 07 dye lot, one skein down, four inches. Granted, the non-seed stitch area will take the yardage further, but that’s still going to be well short of what I was shooting for. I was afraid of this and looked for extra skeins at the time but this was all there was of it.

My understanding is that each bag is its own unique dye lot. I’m going to need to go looking for a close match and then alternate rows of the two when I do.

No luck at Fillory, either.

Still, it’s definitely a better problem to have.

At last at last at last. Thank you Carol!!!
Friday May 17th 2019, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,LYS

First, I want to thank those who tried to help me online.

A few days ago I spent an hour carefully knitting–and then ripping back, one loop at a time–a single row, the 279-stitch first pattern row of that baby afghan.

So I thought I’d ask Holly for advice, but we had so much to simply talk about and catch up on in each other’s lives that it just didn’t factor in. It frankly would have felt out of place to interrupt with something so mundane.

Plus I knew I had Friday afternoon as my backup plan. That’s when Carol and Krista would be at Green Planet Yarns/now called Fillory under the new owner. Surely, if anybody…

There was an open seat by Carol. I pulled out the yellow third Barbara Walker treasury and asked if I could ask for help. Sure! (I looked behind me: the little table where the old version of the shop had had a consultant whose time you paid for was gone. I’d never needed that but I would have been happy to on this.)

I told my friend, I have counted this every single way one could and it doesn’t work: you can’t knit a three by three cable with seven stitches!

The gleam in her eye–she knew what she was about to do and how it was about to feel for both of us.

But you can, she told me: you go back and forth past a center stitch.

I looked at the book. “How? You can’t have an odd number between.” I didn’t see anything other than a normal 3×3 crossing. Everything was symmetrical, there was no wobbling from an extra stitch nor from one side not being cabled when the other one was. “You do need that extra stitch further up in the pattern, but not at the bottom. Right? So the count should adjust for that, right?”

She wished for a cable needle. I reached into my purse for one. She took up my knitting and pointed at the book and showed and told:

“See that one square that’s outlined darker on the chart?” (It was at the sides, where the repeat began and ended.) “That’s the center stitch. It doesn’t move.

Now. You put four stitches on the cable needle and put it behind. Not three. You knit the next three stitches from the left needle, as one normally does; then you knit the first stitch on the LEFT side of the cable needle, then the other three right to left like normal. That one stitch stays at the center between the two sides that way.”

I had never heard of nor seen such a thing. Not that it was hard. It had simply never occurred to me.

“And it would make it so you have the right number of stitches for the lacework above that cable.”


Then she had me do it, too, while I only just managed not to grab it right out of her hands to instantly try it the nanosecond she was done explaining.

I felt a great kinship with my old friend Monica, the longtime knitter who almost yelled, That’s IT?!! when I showed her how to do a simple cable and how all cable work was a riff on that.

I had wanted to knit page 146 for–well, I’d had that book for twenty years. Only for the baby on the way had I finally wanted to enough. Only for her had I gotten to where I could, with Carol’s help. It was so easy. I had been so stumped.

“My granddaughter-on-the-way thanks you.”

“Your granddaughter-on-the-way is very welcome. It’s funny how we have gaps in our knowledge,” said Carol happily.

And then, with the help of a great teacher, suddenly we don’t. We don’t at all. We are all filled up and brimming over.