Busy day
Saturday September 23rd 2023, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Here, at least, it was single strands rather than doubled. I looked back at the beginning of the piece and counted: when I was using two strands per stitch I had twenty-five balls of yarn going per row plus two pull-through strands. It was taking me four to five hours an inch. And that is why there is only one lonely little flower down there, though there was a daylily patch later: you grab your sanity where you can.

When I got up to the clouds I didn’t want to untangle balls anymore and decided I was fine with breaking off five or six yard lengths, using them up, and pulling them through the blue that had gotten wrapped around and around and around the white after they’d been worked behind each other at every stitch. Along with the ends of those strands every second or third row as they ran out.

I cut out the gray tire-swing chains I didn’t like and replaced them with black so they’d show up against the background and added a stitch to round out the tire better. I embroidered flower petals on the sunflower. I added a beak to the raptor. I finished the clouds yesterday, and the rows above the clouds today, and somehow all of that part is over too now and I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around it.

Knit one purl one knit one purl one in dark blue to have the end edging match the beginning edging.

I have been working steadily on this since May. I am eight rows away from being finished. Maybe I should kluge that squirrel idea in there after all.

Which means I’ve been going through my phone and photos online of the C&O Canal, wondering if that’s the picture I knit next. Swain’s Lock, where I accidentally dumped my sister and our cousin over into the canal when I used my paddle to try to keep their rented canoe from hitting ours (the big sisters’) back when we were teens and they were visiting from New Jersey?

Or maybe I shouldn’t remind them.

He was so happy for her
Friday September 22nd 2023, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Last Friday night we came from the airport, picked up Mom, and in a stab a finger on a Google search and do that one, picked Himalayan Kitchen in downtown Salt Lake for our dinner. Our youngest joined us once he got through traffic (it was bad.)

Halfway through the meal, I called the waiter over. He came right away, looking like he was hoping everything was okay but worrying that I thought it was not because our glasses were full and why else would we….

Me: There is (name of the restaurant) in (name of the town) near us that is in the Michelin Guide, and I’ve had their lamb saag many times.

Yours is better.

His face lit up and he motioned in excitement to I wasn’t sure who and said, I’ll go tell her! It is her recipe!

I was expecting some grandmotherly type, but no, it was the young woman busily busing the tables who came over, absolutely beaming, and I repeated what I’d said. She thanked me and about danced away from there.

I have now found my place to eat in that city. It’s noisy, but the food is great and so are the people.

The Colorado mountains in lace
Wednesday September 20th 2023, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Big Arrows pattern, specifically.

A couple of weeks ago I was at Cottage Yarns for a reason that had nothing to do with that skein of Malabrigo Arroyo that also came home with me. But the colors! And the softness, and the practicality of washable wool when you have no idea where it’s going to go when you’re done.

It wanted to be a cowl on 3.75mm needles and it became my carry-around project immediately no matter what my plans had been. I got a good enough start on it in the Urgent Care room waiting for Richard that working on it became a self-fulfilling knitacy.

I worked on it on the plane Friday and finished it that night in the hotel room, running in the end, rinsing to get the crumples out of the lace, squeezing the water out, wrapping it in a towel and standing on the towel, then hanging it over the shower rod: I wanted that thing dry by morning.

And in the desert air it almost was.

By the time of the funeral a few hours later it completely was.

My cousin Amy greeted person after person after person after person and loved every one of us in the extremity of her loss.

The moment I saw her I knew. I mean, by that point the offer was planned, but…!

I gave her that cowl from that impulse purchase. All of those random knit-this-first feelings, the hours spent, the medical waiting-room times of my own. The airport. The flight. The ‘I see you and I am coming’ behind it.

It wasn’t just a collection of good colors on her in mostly blue: it matched the dress she had chosen to say goodbye to her beloved husband with us in. It totally matched. She marveled.

Kevin was looking out for her still.


Edited to add for my mom, who’s not on Facebook: Kevin’s daughter went to scatter her dad’s ashes, and at the place where he had talked about in a random conversation about the somedays, she found herself suddenly afraid somehow that the ashes would blow back in her face. Her cousin suggested a different spot nearby with a beautiful view of the river below. They went there and the family piled out to see, whereupon her grandmother told them that that: that was the spot where her husband had proposed to her 76 years earlier.

The daughter read a poem, her uncle said a prayer, the young children took it all in alongside the adults, the great-grandmother stood there with her loved ones, quietly remembering, remembering, and as Amy’s daughter described it, I am so sad and everything is beautiful.

Y not
Tuesday September 19th 2023, 9:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Rent a Tesla, they said. Same price as a subcompact.

So we tried out what turned out to be the Tesla Y for the weekend and getting in, thought, Niiiice.

We said to the guy at Budget, How do you charge this thing?

Him, and I quote: “How the bleep would *I* know?” (Hey! Someone who uses my favorite swear word!)

Okay then. The paperwork requires we fill it with gas before returning. Uh, guys…

I do have to stop here and mention the doors. They look so cool but on the outside, you have to put a lot of oomph into pushing in one side of the half-a-pair-of-tongs to pull open the other end with the other hand and it really wants to snap right back on you. Hard. I was honestly afraid we were going to break my 92-year-old mother’s hand with it and I tried to get to it every time before she did. Defiance of aging is not a good design feature.

We found a public charging station–it was across town–and tried to charge it before the funeral. We took Mom home after the funeral for a rest and went and tried again. We spent three bleeping hours on a Saturday out of the two full days we were in town to see people trying to get that car to charge. We couldn’t.

Oh and did I mention that it was 92F, the car was black, and the AC turned off while we were trying because the car was too low?

What I didn’t know is that people pull in to charge, walk out to shop at the strip mall while it does, and get back whenever they get back while meantime other people have pulled up and are standing in line to get the next slot for their about fifteen minutes of time with it. Three of the charging stations were out of order, including the one we had tried in the morning that was labeled as such by the afternoon. Thanks guys.

The second time, we waited for a slot and got one we knew had just worked for the guy pulling out. We spent a long long time again. Trying everything. Trying to reach anyone. Even the teen in the next car tried to help.

Turns out the car belonged to Budget and Tesla was not going to let someone whose name was not Budget fill the d*** thing. It actually said Charging at one point–and then the station turned itself off. Didn’t matter that we wanted to pay for it, we were interlopers.

So then we had to watch where we drove very carefully.

We did not drive way down the freeway to his sister’s for a visit. We couldn’t.

We got it back to the airport okay on Monday, low (it had been at 75% when we’d gotten it, 80% is as full as you’re supposed to do, why I don’t know) and tried to give them a heads-up on what their new inventory was like for their customers. Their car kept us from doing some of what we had paid for this trip to get to do. I missed a cousin get-together after the funeral. (Oh let’s just go fill the car while we wait for a text back with the address.) We ordered delivery rather than dare even going out to the grocery store.

I am going to be keeping a close eye on that credit card bill.

I have often thought one should always rent a car, if possible, before ever buying it.

Which I am now definitely never going to do. If nothing else, I’m not risking my knitter’s hands on those doors.

Back again
Monday September 18th 2023, 2:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

We had a trip scheduled to go visit my mom, and then my cousin in Colorado whose husband Kevin was killed on his motorcycle announced a memorial service for him to be held the week after, near my mom and where my cousin grew up even if it’s not where she lives now. But it was a central gathering place closest to the most relatives.

So we changed our tickets and flew out Friday.

We got to see not only Mom but a whole lot of people including relatives I hadn’t seen in probably thirty years.

I said to one man there, You have got to be Kevin’s brother! He was very pleased at that, considered it a great compliment, and said yes he was. We shared a hug at the loss and he radiated so much love that I thought, You are absolutely the brother of Kevin.

And then we got up at dark o’clock this morning to catch the only direct flight home and because that particular airport is such a zoo–it once took us nearly three hours to go from returning the car to our gate. Lesson learned. Be very early.

Our Uber driver coming home asked and reiterated and really wanted to know how we were. So we asked after him and his family.

His English was very good. Turns out he was a refugee from Afghanistan. Very grateful to be here, to be alive, to be employed, and he was so wonderful to us. And grateful that we cared about his family members that were still back there.

Of course we do. We are all, every single one of us, in this life thing together.

Carolyn don’t look
Tuesday September 12th 2023, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

I was looking at skyscapes, and one with cirrocumulus clouds had blue lines of plain sky dividing them into clean crisp rows for reasons known only to nature.

Skip having to weave in white across the backs of every single stitch? And again, ten rows later, and again? Done.

I browsed my Nicky Epstein book, imagining dozens of tiny oak leaves individually made on size 00 needles and sewn on the did-she-mean-to-knit-a-redwood-over-there.

Um, no (on both counts, but it is, isn’t it.)

I’m not liking the gray i-cord chains for the tire swing–they vanish into the background. I’m thinking I’ll redo those in classic black.

The mass of dark greenery across the left side and behind the house in the real estate photo came out like the shape of the nearby lake, and I like that. A lot.

Still gotta add petals to that little flower that I made out of the snowplow-guiding 6′ orange pole. There are several poles and there should be several flowers but at the time, it was taking me four to five hours per inch and I just too much needed that wide open green space to gallop across like a little kid let out for recess.

Getting there, getting there.

Oh wait–don’t let me forget to add a doorknob. Gotta have a doorknob.

On a mission to get chocolate
Monday September 04th 2023, 8:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

The map app took us through San Francisco on a novel route to Dandelion Chocolate, and I was marveling at this building that, This! This is how I remember the Mission District of years ago. I thought it had all long been gentrified out of existence–and for most of the area that’s true.

Post-pandemic there are a lot of closed store fronts in the city and that one building shows it, but this one down the block from Dandelion is beautiful and I wish I’d taken in more of the artwork; I was fascinated by the door at the end of the walkway (and stepping back far enough to frame the view to its left would have put me in the street.)

We got there early in the morning. The store had just changed their opening time and I’m not sure their customers knew it yet: we had the parking and the place mostly to ourselves. We could chat with the two employees without holding up a line. We could hear each other in the quiet. They weren’t yet done putting out the newly-baked pastries of the day but they assured us they had them, pick anything.

For the record, I tried the cacao fruit smoothie made from the pulp that surrounds the beans in the cacao pod, having no idea what a ‘lychee-like citrusy’ and whatever other words they used would actually come out tasting like.

The addiction was instant–man, that was good.

From there we ran the errands that needed to be run, our daughter went off to dinner with a friend, the friend dropped her off at the airport, and our weekend together flew past.

I feel like the toddler who exclaims in both delight and as a demand, Again!!!

Daydreaming of conditioners to take out the tangles
Monday August 21st 2023, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Actually, this first picture is much cleaned up.

My sister’s been posting on FB about how much she loves her barn, how cool it is that her house came with one, about learning the history behind barns in her new town–she’s having a ball.

She has no idea how much happiness she’s creating out of the simple chore of untangling all those strands: every motion and moment feels all the more meaningful and I am loving this and her so much.

Okay, so: I have a set of two doors that are going to be 20 rows high and take up eleven stitches between them, the outer two and middle of which are white, so, the red is 20 high and 4 across per door. They each need a single long top-to-bottom criss-cross of white. There was absolutely no viable way to do that knitted into the pattern.

I’m thinking a crocheted chain quietly tacked on as unobtrusively as possible, though it does give me pause that a sewing thread against a tender strand of cashmere might cause trouble down the line. I could just attach it at top and bottom via the yarn itself, but then washing and toenails would catch at the loose parts between. My first experimenting trying to crochet it into the back as I go was instantly frogged.

A package came Saturday: a three-pack of supersoft but not expensive wool and cashmere crew socks, nice and thick.

I explained to Richard, I have some of those and learned to buy the men’s because they’ll shrink a bit but I bought them to keep in the tote the afghan will be coming in: anybody who comes near that thing with bare feet has to (cross that out) gets to put on a pair of thick cushy socks first.

He rolled his eyes and chuckled. As one does.

Oh so that was why
Friday August 11th 2023, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

I was going to go back there with him but when they called his name somehow I just didn’t. We had already discussed it and found neither of us particularly cared if I did or didn’t and I was in the middle of a row of a merino-silk that likes to drop and run like crazy. Eh. Have fun.

He came back from triage moments later and said, The nurse glared at me.

I finished row after row more, there were quite a few people in Urgent Care this afternoon, the wait was long, and then with my hands needing a break I finally opened the book I’d grabbed as backup when he had suddenly decided he needed to go in.

Whoever it was that recommended “The Fabric of Civilization: how textiles made the world,” by Virginia Postrel, thank you thank you thank you. Archaeology to history to genetics and written compellingly interestingly. I am learning so much.

They called him to the exam room and again I found myself staying where I was, while wondering why.

There was a young woman who was doing the same thing waiting for her friend; my guess is they were college roommates.

She worked up the courage and finally complimented me on my necklace. It was a sunflower gerdan from (are you surprised) Ukraine.

She was very happy at finding out where she could order one from and it was clear it was going to be very meaningful to her to do so. I adored her on the spot.

We chatted. She described herself as a writer. I told her I was one, too. Her: Cool! She started telling me about the fantasy fiction she likes to write.

She’d been watching me knit lace, and I told her I wrote a lace shawls book–but with a story to each. What inspired it, who it was for, with the point being to bless others with what we can do.

The most important one, I told her, was the story of right after 9/11: Joan Baez and her niece came to city hall for a multi-faith gathering; her niece sang. Speeches were made.

And at the end, they asked everybody to take the hands of those around them for a moment of silence. And then as they so felt moved, to speak into that silence.

A few words here and there as strangers held hands with their fellow man. Finally, one man said decisively, May America always be like this.

Amen, the crowd murmured, and with that we let each other go.

I told her, I made a circular shawl in remembrance: it looked like a paper cut-out of people holding hands.

And I told her she would make it with her writing. Her books would be published.

Because I knew in that moment that if a stranger who had actually been published believed in her, she could believe in her, and if she could believe in her she could do it.

Richard reappeared a few minutes later, and as we got in the car to leave I asked him at last, Why did the triage nurse glare at you?

Oh. She told me I should have come in much sooner. If the antibiotics don’t heal that wound right up to get right back in there.

Will do.

And then I told him about the up and coming writer. I wished I’d gotten her name so I could buy the first copy.

Monday August 07th 2023, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I honked at some stupid driver doing some stupid distracted thing: didn’t they know that someone could get killed?!

Alison, I thought at myself. Cool it. It’s not their fault.

Got into Trader Joe’s for the errand I didn’t feel like running but at least at a time of day I thought wouldn’t be crowded.

It was, and the lines were notable.

And yet–the clerk who motioned me over when hers cleared out before the one next to her, whoever she was, acted like she’d been waiting all day to see me. Just the sweetest.

Just debating saying anything almost brought me to tears, and yet I wanted to convey how much that simple gift meant. How important it was.

At the last, as she handed me my receipt and asked if I needed any help out with that, I told her, Thank you. Thank you for the smile. I needed that, I needed to get out of my house and out of my head a minute.

My cousin’s husband was hit by a semi today.

If there hadn’t been a counter between us she would have thrown her arms around me on the spot.

I didn’t say, and he was on a motorcycle.

And the semi was pulling onto the road, distracted.

I’ve said quite a few prayers today for that driver, who has to live with that. I can’t imagine….

Hymn and hers
Sunday August 06th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

How soon it fades.

We were literally about one minute from walking out the door for church when my email pinged. I took a glance; what if someone needed a ride, right?

It was a, we know you’re all probably already on your way but please call those on your list and do not come! An accident just happened, the street is closed down, we have to leave room open for the first responders without all those cars arriving in the wrong block at the wrong moment and for the utility people too because the power pole got taken out and it’s not safe to hold church in the dark.

(Can you just picture the toddlers shrieking and giggling and scrambling away under someone else’s pew. It could be the greatest game ever of Catch Me If You Can.)

Well someone out there was having a truly bad day. They did find a way, though, to get a whole lot of people to pray for them without even being asked. I can only hope they turn out okay.

Another message, later in the morning: Power’s still out but the other ward (we share the building) has invited us to come meet on the lawn with them at noon. Mostly shade.

I’ve seen that shade. The sun, it moves right at you that time of day. No mic, no Zoom for captions, crowded.

He went, but for me there was no point and no doubt certain harm in the idea. Lupus, it doesn’t negotiate.

Just home.

Nobody around.

Nobody to catch up on the week with, no babies to get giggling, no shared community to start off the coming week with, just isolation. So I baked some pumpkin muffins. If I’d had sourdough starter at the ready (there’s some in the freezer somewhere) I probably would have made a batch of that, too; it’s been awhile since I’d even thought of it and I miss it.

It was like this every single day and every single week for all that time before the vaccines started to arrive? And we got through that? It surprised me that it surprised me that much.

Sometimes one remembers just how blessedly wonderful normal life is.

I can only pray that someone out there (I picture their car as a black Mustang, no good reason, I just do) gets to go back to theirs, too.

And now mine is, too
Wednesday August 02nd 2023, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Family

It’s not my tournament, it’s not my house, it’s not my picture.

But. Just let me brag a moment here: #1 team, and not just because I say so.

Then my son and his son stopped by my sister’s and got a visit in with her and her husband in their new place on the East Coast and now I have a sense of proportion of the windows looking from the inside.

Plus a photo of four very, very happy faces.

Saturday July 29th 2023, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knit

I was poking around my archives looking for recipes for blueberry+almond flour for a potluck tomorrow  and stumbled across this post. With also a picture of what was originally this yarn right after I’d overdyed a cone of it.

2017. Huh. That long. Merino/silk 50/50, $15/150g. I kept meaning to dye up the rest of that and kicking myself that it just wasn’t happening even though that first attempt had looked so pretty, and every time I thought okay this is silly I need to go do that, it just…there was this inexplicable reluctance.

Okay, then, tell me what you DO want to be when you grow up.

It finally did. I would never have bought that color purely for its own sake–but it was an exact match for the siding on my sister’s new house. The slightly ropey texture, knitted up, makes the light play off it as if the wood had weathered a bit over the last hundred-something years.

Perfect perfect perfect.

They somehow still have 48 cones. I had no idea. Hey, and you could overdye it, too!

Meantime, here’s the other side of the afghan. Since the lighter green is named Leaf Bud, and the realtor’s photos were taken at early springtime, a tree just leafing out seemed the thing.

At least, that’s the justification for how that particular doodle is coming out. Either that or I’d have to admit that some part of my brain started a California Coast Oak for my sister in New England.




Part one done
Thursday July 27th 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Took ten rows to finish the house by today, but I said I would and I wanted to so I did.

I might try embroidering half a white stitch in that upper corner, but the two stitches at the top of the roof line right up with the window and it looks better than I expected.

Ending at a single stitch would have left a sharper angle, but we’re good here.

Oh and. I decided if my sister finds out it’s okay; what I’d really needed was for my mom to see and know about it first, and once I did that yesterday then I was fine with however it works out from there.

Hey–you know what? We could run some sparkly yarn through and make Christmas lights!

A flagpole tilting left would do it… Nah…
Wednesday July 26th 2023, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Carolyn, don’t look. (I’m only posting this because I don’t think she ever does.)

The lower windows needed to be wider than the door–but only by a stitch’s worth to look right unless I were to do it in a gauge of sock weight or lighter and let me tell you that ain’t happening in my lifetime. Besides, the point of an afghan is to keep you warm.

Except that what that did was leave me a stitch short for the three windows directly above of identical size exactly over the lower three, and I’d love to know if the builder centered the actual house exactly so. But he could work in infinitely incremental amounts and I can’t.

So the second level middle window is off by a stitch but knitting is not a stable solid surface and you’d never notice and who cares.


Suddenly now I kinda do.

Do you see it?

How many times did I count the black stitches marching towards the center there from both sides and not catch this till it was right there being obvious: that nearly finished attic window is not going to be centered. Four black stitches left on this side, five on that on the needles, and it was always going to be like that, I just didn’t see it coming.

It is what it is.

I need to tighten up the back of the two-color K1P1 on the latticework below the right patio so it looks neater.

While my brain yells, Squirrel! Literally. Because there is a tree and I have some cobweb weight, bison/silk so it won’t shrink, in the exact shade of an Eastern Gray. Curling stockinette for the tail flipping you off for messing with its acorns, fine stitches to sew it on to make the toenails. Or something. (Would size 0 lace needles do it for the body. Let me think about it. We are talking dollhouse size so this is in no way a promise, just conjecture. But then this entire thing is by the seat of my pants.)

I’m actually (the mind boggles after two months of work) going to finish the house part tomorrow.

It will honor those cultures that feel that only the Divine can create perfection.

You know, I could stick a tree branch across the top of that window and attic…