Slow and steady
Wednesday January 31st 2024, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knit

Lisa asked if I were knitting this freeform.

I did sketch a sketch, but it looked nothing like what’s coming out.

The beginning edging had been done for awhile so I laid it out and figured, okay, from here to here will be for this and then from here to here, this, and then there. The eye needs things in thirds to be satisfied.

The more I get done the more I’m liking it. Which, frankly, is a relief.

One thing I learned from knitting my sister Carolyn’s house is how important it is to get it onto two long circular needles while it’s in progress and lay it out like that repeatedly from early on to really assess how it’s going; hers would have had a lot more flowers in the area I was reserving to maybe add her driveway later if it needed it, maybe just a chain-stitch-effect outline of a one?–but that was never going to be. All scrunched up on the needles, it looked like the wide green space in its absence was fine. But it was out of proportion.

I’m still tempted to knit a freestanding deer to plant in her front yard.

So. I took my own advice today, found the other pair of afghan-length 8s again, and spent about an hour just considering the thing laid out flat and open. Did other stuff, came back to it, stared some more. I debated making paper figure cut-outs to lay above it here here and here but finally just got down there on my knees and pantomimed it with my hands because I’m lazy like that: this many rows or stitches between trees equals this distance, this height means this much separation, etc.

So now that I know what the final amount of the Willow green will be, I’ve figured out what the next part is, roughly how far it will go, and how to visually balance it with the beginning. (Or that is the hope.)

I’m on it.

Just don’t ask for the specifics yet on what comes after that.

It’s a goodly hike
Tuesday January 30th 2024, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Knit

I was working out my options as I knitted. I will have three 150 g cones of the Willow green when the new one arrives. It is being worked across the back of every stitch outside of the waterway when it’s not actually being knitted itself. I used twelve (correction: 15) cones on Carolyn’s afghan. Um.

Those fruit trees. Andy’s Orchard, my own out back, and…

Our family went to pick-your-own farms every summer when we were kids. Our bomb shelter–we didn’t have a basement, we had a Cold War bomb shelter built into the house–was full of row after row after row of jars. We would drive early in the morning to a farm, then spend the afternoon sitting around the kitchen table hulling strawberries and pitting cherries and the like. So many times we would start with a pun and then stretch it like taffy to forever and back as we worked, Dad at the head egging the wordplay on, the six of us around the table, one sibling I won’t name who would groan and wish we’d stop because that one was sounding pretty ridiculous by now and Mom at the stove (one potato two potato, with peaches lowered into boiling water briefly for peeling) or the blender, throwing in zingers herself. Wordplay was our verbal knitting equivalent against the tedium of the task.

There is nothing in the world like huge dead-ripe peaches that you climbed into the trees for being served up in a pie in January.

We discovered Catoctin Mountain Orchards and ended up going there the most.

Which was near our favorite Catoctin Mountain State Park. If you hike the trail from the picnic area for long enough, you come to a beautiful waterfall coming down and feeding into the creek you’d just been walking beside.

New idea. I could knit it that way. I could turn it into browns and grays and a picnic table and blue tumbling waterfalls over the near-vertical gray rock; not having enough Willow wouldn’t have to matter much.

I checked Colourmart yet again because you never know when someone’s reserved cart might release one. Nope. Ravelry stashes. Nope. They had 8-plied this line of lace weight for me. (The Rusty Custagno is my tree trunks. Gloriously soft stuff but not on sale anymore, sorry, but this is doubled the weight of it and $22.)

Sometimes, just sometimes, they have an unlisted cone or two. They’ve been known to rescue people caught up short.

Sue over in England must have been the person who filled my order yesterday because when I sent a message today asking if by wild chance there might be any more and how I’d goofed and why I was asking, she answered, that we do, and said she would check in the morning for me.

Hopefully she’ll find some. Good folks there.

No pressure, Sue.

So either way it’s going to work out but I can only guess at how this picture is going to go from here. It’s hiking its own trail and taking me along for the sight/seeing.

(Update: she found two. Wonderful! They are on their way.)

Purple cowl a fragilistic expedite all options
Monday January 29th 2024, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life,Lupus

I got hours of portable knitting in, but it was nonstop with no way to so much as walk out of the room for a break, with a fine, slippery cashmere/silk on very slick needles that the stitches kept wanting to leap off of. My hands needed to stop after that.

Not that I’m complaining. It’s good to see that 2019 Stitches West skein finally starting to live up to its endless sweet-talking promises.

Today was, at long last, the day for the retina surgeon.

He was thorough, he took his time, he asked for questions, he gave plenty of info so that I could begin to figure out what to even ask, he came highly recommended by other eye doctors, and I came away feeling like they were right–I’m in great hands here.

Did the lupus have anything to do with this?

Maaaaaaybeeee? he answered. We really don’t know enough yet. But, (scrolling through past meds) are you still on Humira? That’s a great anti-inflammatory, it could help with this.

No, that stopped working. ’09, colon’s gone, I’m off it.

Had I ever had iritis?

Yes, probably 30 years now, and narrowed optic nerves (we both knew that means autoimmunity at the eyes) but they had no baseline at the time.

Did I need surgery?

Yes. He could set it up right now. It won’t be like cataracts, where you go in with impaired vision and walk out marveling, I can see! It will be a gradual improvement over time, but improve it will.

But mine was not an emergency. Yet. He wanted to know how I was doing with it.

Well, I said, I have this small pill I have to split every day; it has a cut line down the center. I can see it fine with my left eye; I am totally blind to it with my right, with the pill itself fuzzed out. Reading has gotten hard (although I still do a lot of it) and I find myself holding things to the left side, which was always my bad eye. But the brain compensates and I wouldn’t even have known there was a loss of the center of vision if I didn’t shut the left, just that fine/small things seem difficult. Lines of text wobble in height and intensity.

I didn’t say, And it’s been a strong motivation to knit everything! Right now! Don’t wait!

He compared November’s screening at the optometrist’s to today’s. He could schedule it or he could give it a wait-and-see for two or three months to see how it goes.

I asked him, If it were your eye what would you do?

He considered that a moment. The latter.

Reassurance and a plan felt great. April, then, for a re-check and a decision then, and most likely we’ll schedule it then.

The receptionist, trying to warn me about the time involved with such screenings, told me, Set aside three to four hours for it.

Yeah. (I almost held up my project.) I know.

I’ll bring an easier wool and needles for flying a bit blind with those eye drops.

Sunday January 28th 2024, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Knit

Three rows/two knitting hours ago, when there was still daylight.

I went back and checked my old high school classmate’s photo of Cabin John Creek, and not having looked at it in some time, I actually pretty faithfully followed the picture so far–only, I flipped it. I had no idea.


The trails alongside the creek were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps courtesy of President Roosevelt during the Great Depression and ran past the neighborhood I grew up in. I can tell you which slab of rock has the pile of leaves next to it that you’d best not step into lest you and the snake underneath suddenly race in opposite directions faster than you knew you could go.

Terrible Teresa smiles and says, I’ll take the one in the middle
Saturday January 27th 2024, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Knit

(A Shel Silverstein quote.)

Do not start a major project in intarsia at night when you have cataracts. Cataracts decrease the amount of blue you can see.

This afternoon I found myself suddenly needing, couldn’t tell you why, to doublecheck on my kilogram of the background color I was working with.

All there was was what was right there. Two big balls, one on each side of the river.

But that can’t possibly be!

It was.

I went through everything, stepped away awhile to take a deep breath, and then went through everything again.

Well but I could…

…That wouldn’t look great and you know it.

Well I…

It took me four hours to realize that even though I was sure Colourmart was sold out of it from their sale, maybe they actually weren’t? I absolutely hadn’t been going to buy any more yarn right now, but…

That, and, I checked out my Purchase History. Yup. That color. Two.

They did, they had one single 150 gram cone of the Willow left and I ordered it immediately, twisted to an 8-ply again. Measuring what I have and the length I’ve gotten out of them, I should be able to adapt the design and make it work out–but I may have to overdye a particular stash yarn in hopes of getting the shade I want to go with it, and if that doesn’t work I’ll let the much darker one I have be good enough.

But that kilogram? I do, I have it. It’s just in a lighter much brighter shade. The one I thought I was starting with, and the Willow was supposed to be the middle third at most of the afghan.

Somehow, the thought kept coming back to me again and again as I was trying to take all this in: And someday you’ll be glad of this.

Which means it will all work out, because of course it has to.

I took this photo this afternoon and then all I got done was my minimum two rows because I was halfway through the second one when I suddenly needed to go doublecheck and and and.

Didn’t Ace the test
Friday January 26th 2024, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Peaches on one side of the river, apricots on the other, but that makes it sound like I’ve done more than I have so far.

Meantime there’s a picture for this:

Richard is forever losing his combs. My last-resort option was a Tupperware party favor eons ago and he can’t take it because I can’t replace it. Dang it’s ugly (protectively so: for the life of me I cannot picture him ever wanting to put THAT in his pocket) but it’s great. Lives in my purse.

So I went looking and found the familiar old Ace. Those have always lasted forever, right?

Turns out that that 150 year old company sold out to the usual origins of cheap shoddy stuff overseas and their classic Hard Rubber dating to the Civil War is no more. He used it today for he thinks the third time ever and then showed me.

So I went looking tonight. Kent brand sounds good on (pixel-based) paper. I know, I know, we just sang that song, but we’ll see how it turns out.

A simple pocket comb is not something I ever thought I’d have to ask for recommendations on, but if you’ve got suggestions I am here for it because you know he’s going to lose that new one in no time.

Or maybe he’ll finally find that this one’s worth making sure he hangs onto it, I mean, I know I did.

Put a nickel in
Thursday January 25th 2024, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Life

Melanie’s passing ran front page of the Washington Post and the New York Times both. As it should. I never knew her last name before, nor that her parents were Ukrainian and Italian.

I told my husband I was going to knit–and I’d wound up the now-dry hank and another one besides and was ready for it–but it was the purple cowl project I picked up, the other being too many strands to untangle if you move it around much. I sat back down at the computer.

That voice.

That intensity, that sincerity. Singing with Johnny Cash, talking to Johnny Carson. Clips of concert after concert.

What surprised me was how instantly the earlier ones took me back to more than just the music of that era: that beautiful velvety boho dress. Just one dress, in sleeves of orange and brown, silky, shimmery and substantial in the skirt, again and again, venue after venue. Clothes were expensive back then and all you have to do is look at closets in older houses to remember that people didn’t own a lot of them. If you wanted something for best you saved up for it first–and it would last.

She did tell Johnny Carson that she’d been told she had to get a new dress, a blue dress. She’d been told not to sing and not to bring her guitar while she was being interviewed.

Carson joked that they must have had the same publicist–and then he invited her to play that guitar.

She was wearing her favorite dress. It was not blue. She wore what she liked.

And then her voice sang her love to the world.

While the fruit ripens
Wednesday January 24th 2024, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Knit

I sketched pine trees. They were going to be pine trees.

They said no they’re not.

Which is why I didn’t knit a stitch of them today: one of them is further along than this one, and I hadn’t planned on needing peach or apricot colors. I had to stash dive, wind off the cone, scour, and hang to dry.

And wait.

Such a relief to get started
Tuesday January 23rd 2024, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Life

I looked wistfully over at my knitting project and then called the good folks at It wasn’t just my hearing that made that phone call go on for ~70 minutes, but it was very productive. Richard had a break in his day and was able to talk to her directly with his own questions.

The woman explained that their services are paid by insurers across the country, so no fee to us (and they know they are answerable to them) and made a point of saying if there is every any problem with any of it, to call her. During enrollment? After? A problem with the company? Call her. She’s on it.

Then she emailed more info and asked for more questions.

So, hmm, do I want the extra that pays $5k towards hearing aids after two years when mine cost $8k and last longer than that? Etc.

She told me the brochure PDF from that company says $1k max on aids but they’ve upped it and haven’t changed the description yet, but five it is. Just so I know.

I like this lady!

Medicare for all would be even better
Monday January 22nd 2024, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

I was talking to a friend on Sunday. She was wearing a mask due to her husband’s health, which meant my hearing had to depend on my ears only but we did our best.

But one of the things she said was that, like us, her husband hadn’t signed up for Medicare because he had coverage through his work.

He was hospitalized. He had turned 65. His insurance refused to cover the hospital part of the bill on the grounds that Medicare should be covering it.

But nobody tells you that! I wanted to protest.

She also said that if there is a gap in your healthcare coverage and then you sign up for Medicare, you pay a fine–and she emphasized this–every single month for the rest of your life for that.

Medicare was insisting they had had a gap of two weeks.

They had not. But they had to prove it, and she spent hours each time waiting in line at the Social Security office and then the IRS office and then back to the SS one. She had to show them physical proof.

You know those medical cards you get every year from your insurance company? she asked me. SAVE THOSE. They are your proof that you had continuous coverage. Get an envelope, keep them in there, put it in a safe place, but never throw those away and never lose them.

After she got home she emailed me this link. Because nobody knows what they’re doing when they suddenly have to decide on what to choose among the bajillion Medicare plans out there while insurance agencies cold-call and spam you mercilessly.

I started trying last year (not too persistently, because it was so discouraging and because I thought the work coverage was fine) to find out what the difference is between Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans and why one would want one or the other and what the difference in costs would be. That site has the point of the whole thing right there front and center: one makes you use a doctor from their plan, while the other lets you go to any Medicare entity whatsoever. That’s Original Medicare. You then pay a Medigap policy not to have to deal with the 20% co-pay bills nor (assuming you choose a good plan) the paperwork.

There are far more details than that but I’m just getting started.

Basically, for the first time in all these months I feel like I have a good source of information. Medicare’s own site was definitely less helpful as far as I was concerned.

So I thought I’d pass the good word on for those coming up on this soon.

Time tesseracts
Sunday January 21st 2024, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Family,History

(Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.”)

I was talking to my mom tonight and at one point she was marveling: her great grandson lives with her.

Right, right…

Looking at time in the other direction, her great grandfather was in the group of pioneers who with their covered wagons went ahead and scouted out the Salt Lake valley and reported back to those gathered in Iowa that it was a good place to move out to.

(A side discussion, yes I remember about the Missouri Compromise balancing free states and slave states, and how the Mormons were growing in number in Missouri enough to risk outvoting the slaveholders and thus overthrowing slavery throughout the country at the ballot, thus their homes were burned, they were shot at, their leader was among those killed, and the governor issued a decree that all Mormons were to be shot on sight. That law stayed on the books until the 1970s, when a drunk driver who killed a young mom tried to get off on the grounds that she was Mormon–which embarrassed the state into rescinding it.


Her great grandfather was born four years after the War of 1812. He was not only later the first mayor of Salt Lake City, he was there before Brigham Young.

And his great granddaughter, now 93, takes good care of herself and still does volunteer work. Her great grandson gives her a lift to the grocery store every week.

The local bi-annual conference
Saturday January 20th 2024, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Life

A meeting tonight at the church, and someone was quoting our old friend Rob who moved away a year ago:

‘We are all standing in the river of the love of God. Let’s make it a work party with shovels and pickaxes and clear out those channels for the water to reach others.’

It’s love that makes the difference. It’s the love that is what it’s all about.

And we know that, we all know that, but the discussion that followed where people told of people who’d made a difference to them made such a difference.

Counting the days
Friday January 19th 2024, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The wild violets of my childhood, the irises out back, purple flowers it is.

The stash cones said cashmere/silk but turns out they are a grabby, snaggy, nubbly cashmere/tussah silk. Not bombyx. And super thin, so I’m using four strands in the two shades, two and two. The effect is quite pretty in real life.

Three tree trunks here, one river, two sandy sides to it, another tree trunk the other side, random boulders at water’s edge, and scattered around, many with their individual strands rather than carried all the way across were twenty bleeping four-stranded purple snaggy flowers.

Even though I was pulling each strand through every time I changed colors, those still snarled and I spent over an hour doing a single row.

Till I gave up and broke parts of the tangled wad off. It takes a lot to get me to do that but those things needed a time out. I could wind more ends in later if I had to to make up for it.

Turns out I hadn’t noticed that I’d already finished most of those violets and all I had to do was run their ends in and now they were sitting there primly waiting for it.

After that the whole thing straightened up and flew right down the needles. Three flowers I can handle. There may be more later. We’ll see how it looks and what the eye will demand.

Four rows today, I figure about 320 to go. Eighty days? Let’s see if I can beat that.

Only so much of that
Thursday January 18th 2024, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Knit

Four rows, close to a thousand stitches, two hours, new colors in seven places, making it up as I go along, I love how it’s coming out and I want to knit some more–

–on something else.

Where I don’t have to make any decisions for the rest of today other than what to start off with. An ordinary, soothing, calming little portable knit. I’m on it.

Edit: Coming back after a bit of stash-diving to say that the purple cashmere/silk dk from Stitches 2019 is now an inch’s worth of soft cowl, and it will be a great foil to the intensity of the intarsia.

It’s all set now
Wednesday January 17th 2024, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Tart cherries out of the freezer, pie into the oven, dinner on the table, good times.

We were waiting for it to finish baking. Then he told me a story that, if he told me forty years ago well it’s new all over again to me now because I sure didn’t remember it.

I had made some reference to the Hostess Fruit Pies of our youth: they sold them in the vending machines in the dorms but I couldn’t afford them on my budget, and they were always, always sold out anyway. I managed to snag one twice my entire freshman year–but that’s okay, since they didn’t have more than about a single actual cherry apiece in them. (My mother was a master of pie baking and those were always such a disappointment.)

He looked at me funny. They had cherries!

Was he sure?

He was.

Did he have a lot more of them than I had to make that observation by?

So that’s when he told me.

He was a teaching assistant in the computer science lab and people were constantly coming to him for help. He told me, The problem is people think computers are, are, magic! It’s ‘the computer’s not working,’ not, I told it something wrong.

GIGO! I said. I remembered that phrase! Been a long time since I’d heard it, though: Garbage In Garbage Out re computer commands.

So he would ask them, Tell me what it’s not doing for you. Then when they explained, without even going and looking he’d tell them, I bet you a cherry pie that the problem is in the…

He told me, They’d have like a typo in their code that they were sure they didn’t have; it’s easy to do, you just have to find it. Or something like that. Once they had to explain what the problem was he knew they could find it, they just needed to know they *could* find it. His job was to help them learn that, not do it for them.

And he gave them a little extra incentive to want to. Plus he got a hand pie out of it.

I could just picture some poor sod hitting every vending machine on campus looking for a danged cherry Hostess.

He told me, I never–not once–lost that bet.

Then he mentioned an old friend of ours at the next grad school who said to him one day, Every time you come in here and we talk I always, always find the bug. You never tell me what it is. You never go looking for it. But after you leave I always find it. How do you do that?!

The answer was, (You find the confidence and then) You think it through. That’s how.

And with that, we decided not to wait till our Definitely Not Hostess tart cherry pie had set, much less cooled down. Straight out of the oven. A little whipped cream for a little cooling and we dove in while it was still, frankly, a bit soupy.

We figured out we wanted it right now enough not to let that bug us.