A good way to spend a day
Friday October 15th 2021, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Twenty-one rows and the start of the third set of branches, a trip to Andy’s Orchard where I got some of the last of the fresh figs of the season–SO good–and some dried Blenheim apricot slabs for my mom, and a visit this evening by friends bearing homemade goodies.

I went outside and cut a pomegranate off my tree and told them to come back for more later–they’re good now, but they’ll keep ripening and get even better.

I sent them home with a bunch of those figs, too, because they love them as much as I do and there were so many in that box and it would be criminal to have them not be enjoyed at their newest and best.

Meantime, I’m hoping the (already stratified) cherry seeds sprout that their son decided needed saving for me because the cherries I gave them from Andy’s were so good a few months ago. They haven’t yet. They’re in nature’s time zone. I’ll just have to wait.



33″
Thursday October 14th 2021, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

So I got the first set of branches done, remembering again why one should always do such a thing on needles that are long enough that you can spread the whole thing out to really see what you’re doing to get perspective as you go. These aren’t.

Darn if it didn’t look like a penguin flapping its flippers.

The only antidote to that was to add another set to give a better sense of tree-ness.

You know those cell phone towers along the freeways that are supposed to be mistaken in passing for pines but instead look like someone electrocuted the Christmas tree?

I kid, I kid, it’s totally fine even if not entirely how I thought it would be. (And a little bit of this is the camera angle.)

I’m better at learning from my mistakes than not making them.



It’s only natural
Wednesday October 13th 2021, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,LYS

The yarn came.

It’s an exact match. That never happens. But it is. Probably came from the same batch at the mill even though I bought them at different times and different San Francisco-area stores. Twelve inches of afghan recklessly knitted in the previous undyed white wool, suddenly totally justified. Man, that feels good.

The tree is branching out now.

And in the strange, strange house department–the pouting telephone stays. The bears stay. (Just sell me one of those and we’re good.) Everything does. Except not the tractor nor, inexplicably plain after all that other stuff, the table under the gazebo.

I’m thinking the ladder for the kids to bypass the stairs to the second floor with would disappear if I had any say in it and having a gun overhead much less in earthquake country is unfathomably Darwinian (did they think the kids wouldn’t figure out that ladders can be moved?)

But should one ever want to put one’s head in a lion’s mouth (scroll halfway down to read where Amy did on a live one) there’s your chance.

I’m not even sure what one of those animals once was and I am so not into carcasses on the wall.

And yet if the power ever went out and the temps were decidedly unCalifornian, you could definitely stay warm.

But first you’d have to drag the ladder over to them.



Castle
Monday October 11th 2021, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Meantime, last week the afghan was all of 5.5″ long and I was glad that at least I’d started the thing. I wondered if I would finish it this year. Seriously.

Sitting working on it today the thought occurred to me that since that divine towel snap culminating in the heart monitor Friday, well, it’s 20″ now by roughly 52+” wide.

Remember how I said I ordered all that white and was going to wait for it to arrive? Not only was it not going to arrive today, it hadn’t even been picked up from the shop in San Francisco yet because of the Federal holiday.

So I picked up the two I had, one to each side of the trunk, and ran for it. Will the new match? It’s going to be what it’s going to be, I was not going to lose  days of working time over it. The new will coincide with the start of the green branches, and colors interact with each other and change our perception of them and I’m going to blame any differences on that, or actually, I’m not going to say a word. Any difference will make it match with how the piece changes from the ground up with the three different colorways there.

Forty-eight rows in two days at the easy part. About 225 of the hard part to go.

Meantime, my cousin and her husband bought the house next door to them. (Their daughter showed a before video on Facebook: some of the walls looked like high piles of random snowballs as you walked in, they were crumbling that badly.) But they had always loved that grand old home–my 90 year old mother grew up in that neighborhood, in a house that was not new when her folks bought it–and my cousin’s husband, a doctor, promised the old man living in the basement of his childhood home whom he had looked out for that they would take good care of it.

And wow, look at it now.

I did do a double take and laughed on seeing that wallpaper: I saw it photographed in a mid-century modern in Portland. Circa 1915 is a much better fit.



Eyeballing it
Sunday October 10th 2021, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

This is definitely one that needs a daylight photo. I’m wincing a bit at this one but it’s what I’ve got.

On the right, the redwood was growing into the fence and the roots had tunneled underneath towards our house maybe four feet away.

I had k3, *(yo ssk k1) doing the diagonal on the right with a knit 1 at the center and then (*k1 k2tog yo) doing a reverse of that diagonal on the left–which meant that when they met up at the center bottom where I did a double-decrease every other right side row three times, it was going to push the fabric upwards visually and physically a bit in that spot, pointing an arrow at the tree above. It was where the roots lifted our sidewalk. But that change of direction at the center also balanced the side edges climbing pointing upwards towards each other, and I wanted that.

With no boughs nor needles nor hawks nor squirrels nor fog the stump is just a bit bare so far. But man does it feel good to be making serious progress.



Aftobering
Saturday October 09th 2021, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

(I took a picture… Will add when it complies.)

I measured how many inches I’d gotten out of the skein I was just finishing up, counted what I had, considered same dye lots vs changing in the middle even when it’s undyed, took a deep breath, remembered Dad’s sweater where my mom ran out near the end when I was a kid, and ordered–

–a whole bag of natural Mecha for the coming background sky to be absolutely sure. Ten skeins, with a small prayer upward of, help me be able to finish this after all this, could you/would You? I’d be much obliged. You know I want to get this to Kat and I apologize for all the time I spent not working on this for Kat and letting the intensity of the project get the better of me but I’m definitely working on it now. For Kat.

Not to mention, but it would be so cool to finish this whole huge project for Aftober: my friend Afton’s tradition of taking something that’s been bugging you because it’s not finished and sitting down and finishing it before the end of this month.

Twenty-two days to knit fifty more inches of intarsia afghan because I like them long. The gauge is larger and the design less involved than the fish afghan that took me six months.

I’m nuts, but I’m going to try.

I reserve the right to knit a small squirrel separately afterwards in finer yarns and tack it on and still say I was done in time if I get to cast off on the blanket.

After all that worry that I’d somehow do it all wrong I really, really like how it’s starting to turn out.



Another big pandemic afghan
Saturday September 04th 2021, 8:40 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

I was most of the way there before the seven and a half miles of stop-and-go between here and Morgan Hill. A platform tow truck went speeding by on the shoulder. By the time I got to the damaged bus on the left, whatever the truck had come for was long gone but the cops and firemen were hands on hips at the scene.

Made it to Andy’s.

They told me people celebrating the holiday had picked his shelves clean of peaches two hours before, meaning they must have been there right when he opened, but when one can get green gauge plums and his nectarines one really cannot complain. And his slab Blenheims! Best dried apricots ever.

Turning off his road at the T on the way back, there was a wide straight length with no side streets and nobody around but me.

Along with a magnificent red-shouldered hawk on the light pole above, guarding the far edges of Andy’s trees.

I double checked in case anyone had turned back there, nope, and then simply stopped to observe for a moment. I never do that. But there was nobody, and a great deal of room to go around me: a road built for development that hasn’t happened yet. (And yes that breaks my heart. I want that farm to stay so bad.)

The hawk turned in no particular hurry and looked back over its shoulder down below at me with a bird’s best impression of a cocked eyebrow, like, Uh, okay? Tell me what’s so interesting here?

But at that, someone did turn onto the road back there a ways and I nodded good day to it and moved on.

On the freeway, two identical privately owned buses now, moving stranded passengers over.

Came home, crashed a moment (wait. That might not be the best word today), ate a bite, revived–and, looking at the calendar and the idea of not being able to get that project off the ground before Tuesday, got back in the car and headed north this time. Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. And yes Katherine does mail order. She recently got a big shipment of Malabrigo everything and is well stocked, but says they warned her that with the pandemic it could be months before they could get big shipments out again.

The great wool apocalypse that knitters tease each other about? This right now is what a good stash has been for all along.

And mine was lacking in that particular washable version.

Now, at long last, I think I have enough Mecha colors and enough variations on those colors to knit what my eyes need to make it come to be.



Black rabbit
Saturday April 03rd 2021, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

The first apple blossoms of the year.

And, on the right, the apricot that was just the tiniest beginnings of two leaves tucked way down in there a week ago.

One of the real estate sites somehow thought I wanted a cabin in Carmel. It’s absolutely adorable and comes with its own Rapunzel tower and I’d love to camp out in it even if my hair hasn’t gotten quite *that* long in the pandemic, but man, that is the most flammable house I think I have ever seen.

And on a different note, I did a fair bit of knitting today: it’s the weekend of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Gerrit Gong was one of today’s speakers, and he was reminiscing about his late father.

Whom we knew and adored. When his dad was blind from diabetes in his old age, his mother asked if I might knit her a scarf in angora: because her husband couldn’t see anymore, but he could still feel, and she thought it would be a blessing to him.

You bet I did.

 



Grateful
Monday November 23rd 2020, 12:01 am
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus

President Nelson, head of the Mormon Church, asked that we talk about what we’re grateful for, and trying to squish it all into words seems kind of overwhelming.

In no particular order: waking up every morning in this life.

The faith that requires that I be my best self towards all others in order to honor what I’ve been blessed with.

The doctors and nurses and blood donors and medical researchers and volunteer research guinea pigs all the way to the housecleaning staff at the hospital–everybody who helped save my life.

My family, in a million more ways than I could ever convey. So much love.

The fact that my three nephews who got covid survived it; a cousin’s working on it.

And this is going to sound weird, but…my lupus, and the Crohn’s that piled on nine years later. Because of all the ways that it constricted and confined my life: after reading Norman Cousin’s book, “Anatomy of an Illness,” I knew I needed a creative outlet and the smocked baby outfits I’d been embroidering were right out–my hands couldn’t hold that fine of a needle without intense pain.

I was at the library with my little kids one day and Kaffe Fassett’s Glorious Knits about fell off the bookshelf into my hands. It was that two-page spread with the models in those fabulous coats in an amaryllis field in the Netherlands that got to me–you know I love amaryllises. I could never in the world make anything like those designs with dozens of colors but I checked that book out again and again till I finally gave up and bought a copy.

That was the turning point. Turns out, my hands could knit. Thank you, Kaffe.

I had basically given up knitting in college when I couldn’t afford the yarn nor the time. I made up for those missing dozen+ years, I would say.

I made his Carpet Coat (“These are large but they drape beautifully on everyone”) and when I got done my husband glommed onto it and told me, “It fits me better than you, go make yourself another one.” I did.

And then I met Kaffe Fassett. I’m pretty sure he ducked to come through the doorway, just like my husband does. Richard’s coat has 68 different yarns, I collected more skeins to make mine 86 because if he was going to nab my coat mine was going to outdo his. I went with the large split triangles pattern.

And then a teen some friends were raising in foster care loved them, asked about them–“Mohair. MO hair. What kind of animal is a MO?”–and I felt in my bones I had to make him one. A vest, so as to not worry about the fit or running out of my leftover yarn, but, a large part of me argued within that I can’t possibly knit for every single person who admires what I do! I’d never stop!

Tim’s happily married with children now and his wife still wears that vest all these years later. Fits her better now.

But that project was an inner barometer: when I felt generous it was what I wanted to work on, complicated or not, and when I was getting wrapped up in illness or just too down to cope with it I had no desire to. I began from that to learn just how much better I could make myself feel by applying happy anticipation to my stitches towards someone else’s happiness. It made the lupus less–devouring. I don’t know how else to put it.

All the things I’ve made, all the privileges of being able to share what I can do–none of that would have happened had my circumstances been what I’d planned on. I was going to get my last kid in school and then go back to work. But for so long I was just hanging onto life by my fingernails day to day with my illness.

But I could knit in happy anticipation of seeing the look on someone’s face, I could make love tangible, and I can’t tell you how many times that has helped make the difference.

I’m so very grateful for every member of my family, too, but that would be an encyclopedia rather than a blog post.



Sterling
Wednesday July 15th 2020, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Colourmart had a mill-end sale awhile back and I bought all they had in a deep reddish brown merino. It’s supposed to be superwash, though I’ve never tested that out; I had just enough for an afghan and I didn’t want to waste a yard. (They have one color left in an earthier shade of brown.)

Dear friends of ours–the story is someone else’s in the family to go into detail over, let’s just say I felt I owed them much, and I aspired to knit them an afghan in thanks but then found myself making blankets for three grandkids on the way in a row instead.

In January I found that it was suddenly at the front of the queue telling me that it was its turn now.

Finally! Cool! I pulled out some yarn I’d had in mind.

But I just couldn’t make myself get going with it. Which disappointed me in me for dragging my feet. C’mon, it’s taken you long enough to get to this point, what’s the hold up?

I finally caught on and got a little more humble about it and said a little prayer: You know what they’d like best. I only know what I’d like best. Please help me get this right, because they’re the ones it’s for and for all that effort I truly want to make them happy with it.

I immediately found myself opening the small cabinet I keep some of the best to come tucked away in and going straight for that deep burgundy I’d bought a couple years earlier.

Really? It surprised me. I held a cone in my hands and considered. The color would go great with their living room. It was extra fine merino, which is very soft, but it had a lot of twist to it, which made it less so, although that would cut way down on pills or fuzzing out. Definitely a practical wool: thick, warm, not itchy, cuddle up, wash it, it can take it.

And so I made this afghan.

But with the shelter-in-place orders, neither Richard nor I could quite justify breaking quarantine just for that. Soon, surely, but again and again it came down to, but not now. What if I exposed them? What if I exposed them to the pain of finding out they’d exposed us?

And then, knowing none of this, Sterling asked me to knit his co-worker a baby hat. And you know the rest. One that looked like the logo of their project.

Which he finally got to come pick up tonight. He told me he’d shown the picture to some of his co-workers, including some that were knitters. (I was like, hide those rainbow color changes…!) But nobody had tipped off the recipient. I got to see the sparkle in his eyes as he said, That’s tomorrow.

And nobody had tipped off him.

He reached into the bag, stunned, feeling the edge of his and his wife’s new afghan, and looked back at me and said, marveling, That’s one of my favorite colors!

—————–

Edited to add–I was getting ready for bed when suddenly the obvious hit me and I came back here to say: if we had gotten that afghan to them earlier, Sterling would never have asked me to knit that hat because he would have felt like it was just too much to.

That, most of all, I think is why that waiting had to happen. That hat needed to happen, and that shared happy anticipation on the part of so many on behalf of the expectant parents and their little one about to arrive. I mean, they would have anyway, but sometimes you get that rare chance to help make love visible.

I almost missed seeing that.



Thirteenth
Tuesday July 14th 2020, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Pomegranate tree picture just because. It grows like a yarn barf ball that the cat got into.

Seaching for something at the back of the middle shelf of the freezer in the garage this evening, several things from the top fell down on my head. Because I had just put them back in wrong.

I tried not to do a small freak out.

Including half a dozen concussive-type events with actually getting knocked out, I’ve had twelve.

My friend Phyllis’s sister died in middle age after two concussions in fairly short succession. I am a little too aware of the possibilities.

Got dinner done, went to go check on a plant, and was both opening the slider and stepping through when the bottom caught, the top bounced way back, and it smacked me so hard on the ear that after I caught my breath I had to take out the one hearing aid to ask Richard if there was blood. I have these semi-hard things in my ears, y’know, and, yeah. Not that he could see, though, so, good.

Next thing you know I’m trying not to throw up. Richard had me go lie down awhile with his, I have no idea what you call it: an ice head belt? It’s black, it’s like fabric-pot fabric, it has pockets for ice packs, velcro hinge-type things to flip over and hold them in, and sideways velcro to hold the contraption around your head. Good for migraines.

The room was spinning. It’s been worse, but. I was quietly feeling like, don’t leave me. I didn’t actually ask. He stayed with me.

After about 40 minutes, I got up and watered the now-four-branches baby apricot and veggies out of sheer cussedness: those pots dry out fast and I’ve put too much into them not to now.

Then I typed all this out so I would be able to go back later and see what date this was.

And went, but you know? What I really want to do? Is to finish that stupid hat I keep not wanting to work on.

So I did. I sewed on the ears–in a solid line down the sides of the upper face this time. I worked in all those ends and I used them to cover up some of the mishmashed color changes as best as could be done, and-

–wow. Who knew. Sterling was right. That one is a lot cuter than the second try–or just different, but, it matches much better what he was hoping for and it’s a really relatable, cute face now.

I can’t wait to get it to him.

I’m going to let him be the one who’ll drive over here. I’m taking it easy for awhile.



A little assembly required
Thursday July 02nd 2020, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

So, so, so much faster and easier, even if I have all that sewing-on to do. It did take me a few tries to figure out how to make the diamond shape with knitting into fronts and backs of stitches while not distorting the edges. Note to self: cast on two, not one to start, and then do a make one in between on that first purl row. You want to be working with an odd number so you can double decrease into a point at the top.

Right now everything’s curled up because it’s stockinette stitch on the loose.

I felt so virtuous getting this far along that I totally didn’t do the rainbow part yet–but Debby’s idea is definitely the way to go, and thank you, Debby!

The thing I keep thinking is that I’ve wanted to make character hats for the grandkids for a long time, and now I know how to do what I want to do for probably just about any design and it’s incredibly freeing. Sterling did me a huge favor with his request, and I sent him this picture with a thank you.



Wheelchairs for cars
Wednesday June 24th 2020, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

After they towed the car away they sent the email that said that there’s a 2-4 week national backorder on catalytic converters, one assumes because so many are being stolen.

And then I saw the other email. Had it been from anyone else I would have laughed and looked for the gentlest way to say no. But it wasn’t just anyone else.

Did I do commissions? A co-worker was having a baby and he thought it would be so freaking cute to be able to give the baby a hat that matched the logo of the project they were working on.

I won’t post that logo here but picture a circular, slanted rainbow with an animal’s face in the center.

A cat, he said.

A dog: a boxer on a summer day, I said. Those cheeks. That tongue hanging out.

A teddy bear, Richard glanced over and said.

A freaking pain in the neck, my needles said. The guy had no way to know.

I didn’t answer. I simply held yarn after yarn up to the computer and then compared amongst them to try to come up with the best combination. At this point there’s a lot of leftovers from that afghan project, and though worsted weight is not my first pick for baby clothes it’s what I had that had those colors and was machine-washable, soft wool. Soft enough for a baby.

Intarsia in the round. You knit right to left. The colors change left to right. Get to the end of the first row and the yarn at the color change is now on the other side away from you, so you wrap one (thank you Nancy Weber for teaching me how to knit socks years ago!) so it doesn’t make a hole and you go back to where you came from on two circular needles inside a Venn diagram because the hat’s too small to use just one. So there’s that variable, too.

When UPS knocked on the door when I was at a row and needle change it took me a moment afterward to figure which juncture, which direction, and which yarn.

You change colors in the back so it doesn’t show. Except there is no back during the knitting that way. It shows. And it shows worst and is the most messed up at the start of the rows at the orange/yellow, exactly where the mutt’s face is supposed to be centered–no hiding it at the back of the wearer’s head.

I was planning on stockinette and the gauge thereof. I had garter instead–which made it too big, but if you use that as a folded-up brim to hide half the animal it will…make a great peek-a-boo toy. After the baby gets old enough not to cry when it falls down and covers its eyes and it doesn’t want it to and it can’t yet do anything about it.

Let me get the rest done before making pronouncements.

The upper part gets to be stockinette because having just done four hours of this mess and not loving the result I was getting antsy. It was time to start the face.

I picked up a sewing needle and ran the new contrasting colors back to the starts of their sequences, ready to knit again, no turning. So there. There will be no give to the hat there but something had to give for me.

So many ways it’s not up to my standards. And yet, and yet, the silly thing is growing on me.

Note to self: next time knit a slanted panel, knit another picking up the side of the first as you come along, then another, till at the last you pick up from both sides and close the circle.

I finally answered his email after I got this far along with it: I said, no, I don’t take commissions.

But actually, I was going to surprise you with a doorbell ditch but I’m not there yet and I didn’t want to leave you disappointed all night, wondering. It’s far from perfect. But it’s coming.



Day 23
Tuesday April 07th 2020, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Ziplocked away. Pandemicked. Waiting its turn.



Lockdown day six
Saturday March 21st 2020, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knitting a Gift

1. It had been two weeks since she’d sprung us and she was hatching another plan for helping us be sure we still had depth perception. We were not to be exposed: she would do everything. She had us look at the menu and decide ahead of time.

Restaurants are allowed to serve to-go only, curbside.

She drove us to this ice cream shop. I had never seen parking freely available around there before. Ever. Everything around it was closed, as well it should be, and even the restaurants had the lights really low, trying to cut costs with the hit to their income or what I don’t know, but this one had their door open wide on a chilly day like the Whos in Whoville calling out to the larger world, We are here, we are HERE!

Dandelion Chocolate Hazelnut totally for the win.

We’d actually tried calling Timothy Adams, thinking to get some hot chocolate to take home, too, and to see our old friends there (at the prescribed six foot distance and from the car) and it hurt hard that there was no answer.

One dessert place can stay open and the other can’t? What’s up with that?

2. Why that cashmere cowl got ditched for so long, as it turned out: I’d started it, I’d changed the pattern, and I hadn’t known where to go with it from there. When I rediscovered it I continued the second part and figured it would tell me how to end it: whether to expand it outward so it would be in three sizes to match the three stages, or whether I even had enough yarn for that.

It did tell me. I didn’t. I got to where I was unsure I could do another repeat as is, even weighing it repeatedly and doing the math. I just wasn’t sure and I’m not one to do a game of yarn chicken over an hour’s worth of work that isn’t a necessary risk.

So I followed Eleanor Roosevelt’s dictum: if you make a mistake in your knitting, do it again and make a pattern out of it. The four-stitch-repeat top now matches the four-stitch-repeat bottom as if I’d meant to frame the picture like that all along.

I’d thought that small yarn small needle project would cling to me forever but it is finished and drying and somehow it is actually done and part of me can’t quite comprehend that. But I don’t mind that it is.

3. Seemed as good a reason to celebrate as any. Michelle had brought us blueberries.