Wednesday May 31st 2023, 6:22 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

That lizard that I thought looked like an itty bitty alligator sort of?

It is in fact called, it turns out, an alligator lizard.

And in the loveliness of spring, they do… This.¬†Which is why I’m stuck with the Beatles singing, ‘Hold me, love me’ in my head. Uhhh…

That’s enough for the moment
Tuesday May 30th 2023, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Knit

I’m at 17 cones now wound off since Saturday. Enough for several afghans that will be knitted with my hands getting to enjoy those soft yarns at their best rather than their straight-from-the-cone quickest–and by that pre-wash, not having to worry whether they’ll shrink at different rates within the project the first time they hit water and soap. It was worth it.

FOROY abated
Monday May 29th 2023, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

All that stifled desire to finish the white afghan spurred my winding cone after cone on the niddy-noddy this morning (in between delivering the apricot seedling) in order to get it ready for scouring–the pre-shrinking, the blooming, the softening. I did this much by the afternoon, with a few more over the weekend and a few this evening, about six thousand yards.

I opened a zipped tote bag to pull out one I’d wound up Saturday to add to the picture but it never made it in because as I reached in I saw it and stopped.

Was it really.

How. could. it. be.

It was!

Then how did I not see it Saturday?

That Kone I’d been making the white afghan from, where the 900g had come in two cones? One of which was 160 grams more than the other?

Apparently when it arrived I’d put the smallest cone aside to make a cowl from and then forgotten about it: there had actually been three. The last 150 grams, right there, explaining the weight discrepancy on the other two. Mysteries solved.

FOROY: Fear Of Running Out of Yarn.

I checked the color, I checked the spinning, I really scrutinized every bit of it to make sure I had it right, but yes–it’s a match. If the stuff on the way is a match too well super duper, but I can manage with this.

Meantime the hardest part of the next project to get myself to do, the scut work of the job, is already and even enthusiastically mostly done because my frustration made winding endless yards of still-mill-treated yarn into a useful and comforting outlet.

Do you ever have one of those moments where it feels like G_d’s putting your faults to good use?

Seedling stuff while I wait for that yarn
Sunday May 28th 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Garden

We will start off tomorrow by delivering a baby apricot tree to a good friend. This one’s actually on its second year: it only got a few inches high last year, just a tiny little green sprig of hope, and then its growth tips died for the year (I think when we went out of town.) I kept watering it because you never know–and it really took off after breaking dormancy this spring. It pleases me no end. 26″. And now Becca gets to watch it grow up.

Contrast that to this one planted this February. 11″ high. You’d think they’d be about the same, but no, not at all. So it really does pay to keep taking care of them when they disappoint.

And then there’s this little guy, planted a month ago. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one start off with ten leaves all at once like this. This morning there wasn’t much of a stem to speak of; tonight, there definitely was. Having killed off two this year, maybe by overwatering, (plus the one I knocked upside down, pot and all–oops), I’m thinking, Just. Keep. Growing…

Sudden screeching halt
Saturday May 27th 2023, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

To recap: I started out with two sets of 900g of the 64/36 cashmere/cotton, one of which came divided into two cones–and I was working the yarn doubled from those two; the slightly larger of them, I now know, was 160 grams bigger.

I made it to the end of the eleventh motif with about a yard to go on the smaller and got out the waiting full cone. Four motifs to go, was the plan.

Head tilt.

It didn’t match. It clearly, obviously, didn’t match.

But Colourmart always matches! I’ve bought yarn from them 18 months apart that was still the same dyelot, but this was spun slightly looser, was whiter, and had less of a feel of machine oils to it. Bought two months apart with the same picture, but it was clearly from a different mill run.

If I had worked from the two separate sets in the first place, and I nearly did, there would have been no problem. I’m just glad I was able to get that eleventh motif finished!

So I have two options: break off the remaining strand, wind off 80 grams from it to have two, and make as much of an edging as I can and hope that it’s big enough and that the thing doesn’t come out too lopsided.

Or: remember when I did that math to get it to twin bed length? I ordered more to be sure I could, figuring I could always use that nice a yarn at that cheap a price, and it is on the way.

So either the new yarn will match what I’ve knitted–or the other mill run. Or even if not, I’ll have two large cones to work from for the next big plain white project. I could even do extensive cabling, which generally uses up about a third more yarn.

I won’t have enough information and can’t reasonably do anything till the new one gets here sometime hopefully next week.

Ah, well, momentum, it was good while I had you.

I was pushing all the more to finish the afghan because as I stepped out of the shower yesterday a mental picture of what my next big project should be and will look like kind of stopped me and took over my brain for a minute and I spent part of yesterday going through stash to find the colors I would need. I was just going to have to push myself to finish the white. And so today I had #11 done by 1:00 pm.


So I wound and scoured new-project yarn and knitted a large swatch (we are NOT doing 72″ wide this time!) I actually swatched this time. Are we proud of me or what.

A day in May
Friday May 26th 2023, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

The tenth: done.

We have the first tomato flowers of the year. (Photo taken through netting, thus the blur.)

Re the peregrines: while the sub-adult was in courtship with the adult, a male adult flew in and took over mating duties for a single day while the teenager sat over yonder and cried audibly in camera range at being ousted. But there was no fight, because the adult male didn’t think he was old enough to be competition yet–and then was never seen again. Avian flu, we don’t know.

So the female went back to accepting the sub-adult because that’s all she had.

And so I wonder…

Of the three eggs she laid, only one hatched and it’s late enough by now that there is no expectation the other two will.

Maybe he wasn’t fertile yet after all. We’ll never know.

(Today’s video here.)

A pairadox
Thursday May 25th 2023, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Ninth, done. Part of me has been picturing one of those old-time flip-photo books with these where you can almost see the stitches moving.

Took a break to help him clean up a corner of his and a very small package labeled

After Thoughts Magnetic Earrings

came to hand. It had slipped behind the furniture long ago.

He looked at it and gave a wry grin. Remember these?

I hadn’t even looked at it, really, so, no.

He named the guy’s name.


It involved a trip with the kids, where the older two were about 11 and 13 and conspired with their dad to pull as dire a practical joke as one has ever seen from any of us. You put these on in pairs: they’re magnetic so you need both sides to hold them on. Voila! Nose piercings! Multiple ear piercings, all with sparkly little fake jewels at the centers of little stars marching way up your earlobes. But the sparkly nose piercings on both son and daughter just totally sealed the deal.

And so temporary–all you have to do is pull on the outside one and the pair falls off into your hands at the end of Halloween…or punking a particular someone who might or might not have been to the right of Attila the Hun but what are friends for.

The two of them knocked on the door, grinning, the rest of us a few steps behind to let them have their spotlight moment.

The husband, knowing we’d driven some hours to get there, opened the door

took one look

and slowly closed the door in their faces, shaking his head, saying, I’m sorry, I’m…sorry, I just can’t let you in like that, as the door shut to. He was dead serious.

This was more of an effect than any of us had expected and the kids protested loudly through the door that they were fake, they were fake, here, watch us, they’re just magnets!

He opened the door and let us in with some reluctance still (I guess we were going to subvert his children?) but he required they take them off on the porch first and expected an apology and well, frankly, so did they though they didn’t say so and well that was interesting.

We found out later he was cheating on his wife. Who had cancer. She divorced him and lived the happiest I’d ever seen her for the years she had left.

Do I remember those magnets. A rhetorical question if there ever was one.

It is just so weird sometimes what some people think is immoral.

Wednesday May 24th 2023, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

I planted a handful of Anya apricot seeds after we got back from Seattle a month ago and today the first one finally sprouted. Those baby leaves just delight me to no end.

The sideways-design idea? Yeah, lace stretches every which way and all that, but laid flat like that it’s 72″ wide and 27″ long. Or 33″. Or more if you hold it up and its weight pulls it down, but either way, I’m thinking I’m doing this much again and calling it done.

Or (looking the dimensions up) I could do a bit past that and call it a twin size. Should I really want to?

Almost halfway
Tuesday May 23rd 2023, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

Another same but not quite the same picture: seven. One half pattern repeat like that is 3252 stitches per day.

English needs a word for when there isn’t peer pressure but you treat yourself as if there were for your own advantage in order to accomplish something. Keep it up, it’s working! Thanks!

Meantime, our enormous tropical-looking I forget the name but we’ve always called it the man-eating plant with its scaly trunk undulating on and above the ground like a Chinese dragon has sent up a flower bud wrapped up inside that thick corn cob-y thing. Past experience says that it will open up for less than a day and only partly exposed to view, facing the sun.

And now I know where we put the blue outdoor five gallon emergency water container. It was tucked under that thing so as to be out of the way and out of sight. Worked, too!

Keeping an eye on that
Monday May 22nd 2023, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Lupus

Sixth, as you follow it diagonally: done.

I’ve had problems with my corneas tearing from my eyes being too dry. My eye doctor told me to use not just drops, but a particular one because it didn’t have preservatives that would accumulate over time and the single-vial version would negate the risk of contaminating the bottle.

So I use GenTeal.

There’s been a growing recall of contaminated eye drops that have caused eyeball loss and sepsis and deaths and that multiple antibiotics are not able to cure.

GenTeal’s single-use vials say made in France. Okay so far. Their ointment, however, is made by one of the two companies under recall. FDA link here. Symptoms list here. If you use any made in China or India, including those sold by Costco, it’s probably from those two companies that this has been traced back to. One source I read said the India plant has been a repeat offender on contamination, but I don’t have the data to back that up.

Regulations, folks. They’re life savers.

Sunday May 21st 2023, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Knit

Merriam-Webster, “fernery: a place where ferns grow.”

Playing The Little Red Engine That Could here: the fifth set of diamonds/ferns is finished, about ten to go. I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can…

Full speed ahead
Saturday May 20th 2023, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Not sure I can keep up this pace every day, but progress feels great.

And not just mine: a certain someone snagged the apartment she wanted across the country despite much competition for it. A mistake was made, she pointed it out and saved the landlord money even though it would cost her, and she was in.

Knowing where she was going to land was a huge relief. We went to Dandelion Chocolate to celebrate (while doggedly not thinking about we don’t know when we’ll get to do that again.)

We spent forty minutes circling the blocks looking for parking, and finally one opened right up and she tucked right in there–and then realized that the guy ahead was in an illegal spot and had been waiting for that guy to leave so he could back into the legal one. Had he been waiting for that? Yes he had. She pulled right back out and let him have it. He waved a thank you.

About fifteen minutes later we found our spot and went and got our chocolate: hot, bars, and pastries.

And it was very, very good.

Measure twice
Friday May 19th 2023, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I did some math.

Now, the way that math is like life is that you have to start out with the right assumptions.

I’d bought two 900 gram cones (“Kone” in Colourmart speak, to differentiate from their 150g standard) of their 64/36 cashmere/cotton and they often give you a little more than you paid for so when I grabbed two to work doubled it didn’t surprise me that one was a little bigger than the other.

Today I wanted to see how much farther I could go, so I measured what was left on the cones. Subtract 36 g each for the weight of the plastic at the center, subtract from 900g each. Figure out the per inch you’ve gotten so far and how much you need to get to, oh, about 70″.

Staggered. Yes they have more I could order, but–TEN. POUNDS?? Weighted blankets R Us? My stars, the price tag!

Well, it’s pretty wide and I guess in that case I’m knitting it sideways so I can stop a lot sooner and yeah that’ll look weird–call it a design element, right? And I got back to work.

With the thought nagging at me, Wait. You know that can’t be right. Go look again.

There was still a Kone in the yarn armoire, and subtracting the plastic it’s got 980g–that extra, there it is.

Which means the two I’d been working from were of course 900g+ between the two of them.

Well then. I’ll get a good length out of my 1800+ grams. That’s still close to four pounds and there won’t be cowls or hats from any leftovers but I’m okay with that. And everything’s cool.

Baby bird day
Thursday May 18th 2023, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Wildlife

The peregrines: the male being a second year still in juvenile plumage, he’s never done this before and there was some question as to whether he was even fertile yet, although the likelihood was yes.

He was certainly new at it: when the first egg was laid, he was so excited that he took prey over to it and tried to feed it. His mate did a falcon eye-rolling equivalent and it didn’t happen again.

Meantime, there was a faded egg left over from last year’s pair that had never hatched. Midway through brooding her own three, the female went over and carefully scooped it with her beak to where it could be properly kept warm along with the rest.

It stayed there about a week before the male was seen exiting the nest box carrying most of an eggshell and getting the darn thing out of there. So they came out even on the eye-rolling.

Their first fluffy eyas hatched last night and there was our happy daddy feeding it this morning, an actual beak offered eagerly up to him this time rather than smooth hard shell. He wasn’t particularly good at getting food to his mate when she wanted while she was (and is still) brooding–he wanted his turns on those eggs–but this part? He’s got it.

Also this morning: I got the sheer delight of watching a newly fledged mockingbird making it up to the fence line outside the window. It did baby bird things: it tried to preen away an itchy bit of hatchling fluff that hadn’t fallen out yet. It tried walking down the fence line and the first time, it was the stagger of a toddler in diapers; after a rest and a try again, it walked more smoothly, more like a mockingbird. I wondered if this was the first time it had been able to take steps for longer than the width of the nest? Did I just get to see a baby learning how to walk?

Seems that way.

It begged for food and almost fell over in the process when a parent flew by to check on it.

Parent on the fence! A second baby flew uncertainly up there, its wobbliness giving its age away.

Look how short their tails still are! Those will finish growing in fast.

They fluttered their wings and nearly knocked themselves over. They picked at bugs on the fence. They tried the mocker gesture of the one-two dance, shoulders up high, and, now out, to try to scare up more and no, not quite like that, guys, you don’t want to fall on your beak. They pancaked down, tired, the second one echoing its sibling on every movement. They jumped up when a parent flew by and they each got fed sometimes, while at other times the parent looked at them as if they would, then turned around and flew away: we won’t let you go hungry but we won’t let you get away with thinking you don’t have to start finding your own now.

Later, I saw one try to make the jump from the neighbor’s tree back to that fence and it misjudged the height or else couldn’t quite maintain its own; I’m not sure what it landed on on the other side. There used to be a beehive about there, if there isn’t still.

More preening that almost made them knock themselves over. Kids are so cute. Lots of observing their world from their wide new perspective.

Just now as I was typing, movement caught my eye and I looked over. It was a Bewick’s wren, a particular favorite of mine, suddenly perched by the window. It preened a bit of baby fluff away and nearly wobbled off its perch. It fluttered its wings hard to keep its balance. It considered trying flying again but for awhile there was going, nahhh. It looked over at me. I looked at it, wishing it could grok a human smile and love directed its way. Well, at least it stayed awhile as I typed.

And then finally, with the sun getting low, it took off around the awning pole and away into something I couldn’t quite see from here.

As they do.

It is fair to say it was well received
Wednesday May 17th 2023, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

What was her friend’s favorite color?

(She knew what that question hinted at.) I dunno; blue, I guess??

They have been each other’s bestest through years and all kinds of life experiences, and now there’s going to be three thousand miles between them. The friend dropped something off at our house a few weeks ago and her face gave away how painful it was for her that the Silicon Valley downturn was taking her friend three thousand miles away.

I gave up on the blue I’d ordered (some of it still isn’t here yet) and started just going with the off-white afghan that already had the bottom edging done so I could get it to her faster. And yet, and yet… No matter what I told it, it kept telling me that that one was actually for… And I wanted to get it done before moving day and my hands just haven’t been letting me do that much of its heaviness at a stretch…

But. I had a blue afghan. I did, and it was all ready to go. I’d bought the fingering weight yarn years ago and had dyed it three gradient shades from royal to navy and then had eventually knit them together. It was even 2/3 cashmere like the white one, though 1/3 fine wool rather than cotton. I’d offered it to someone a few years ago and they’d chosen another option, I’d offered it to someone else last year and they chose another option, and I kept thinking, it just hasn’t found its person yet. Why is it so hard to find its person–I know they’re out there, someone for whom it has to be blue.

And then I’d forgotten about it.

A certain someone just walked in the door after a farewell dinner.

Where she told her friend, You have to open this before I leave so I can relay to my mom the look on your face when you do.