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.



Lockdown day two
Tuesday March 17th 2020, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Food,Knitting a Gift

I finished the hat. I found a red cowl I’d forgotten starting and got some work done on that, too, in Lisa Souza’s hand-dyed cashmere. How anybody could forget that I don’t know. It’s a very nice yarn.

This evening, the sudden quiet was almost startling when we turned the melanger off. Time to cool and pour the finished chocolate into the new molds.

Yonder geek husband had a new toy to try out. We have one of those laser thermometer readers, and he had the latest and greatest version with a flickering graph giving you sixty-four points of data instead of the one little red dot.

It was revelatory.

It read at five degrees celsius cooler than the old thermometer. Wow.

Which explains why the chocolate was almost setting in the bowl while the old thermometer was saying it was too hot to pour yet. It was clear to me it wasn’t. It wasn’t. And since adding any pre-tempered cocoa butter to make all the chocolate crystals align right is highly dependent on getting that temperature just so, well, we’ll see in the morning when we start unmolding the bars to see what we’ve got.

But so far, it looks like the best tempered batch we’ve ever made. New toy for the win!

Supply note: Esmeraldas cocoa nibs from The Chocolate Alchemist. Who has a photo of a chocolate Easter bunny with a white chocolate face mask on, the link to the artist who made it for him, and says the guy might make more that way if we ask him (he was hoping out loud for people to help the guy’s small business in the current environment.)

I have a favorite doctor. I’m tempted.



So not my orange. But it’s someone else’s.
Saturday March 14th 2020, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

1. The mango is starting to set fruit, and not only that but at the time of year it’s actually supposed to. My little tree is growing up.

2. The silk color was called geranium, and it definitely earned that.

They sold it as a knitted tube that looked like a flat tape yarn. I expected it to stretch, since loosely spun silk does, but it wasn’t the spinning of it that had the looseness and it did in fact shrink somewhat when I washed the mill oils out in hot water.

For now. The weight of it is such that it will probably grow longer/wider in time. Either way, it’s all good.

 What surprised me is how much the look of the yarn changed: it went from flat to round and the tube announced itself. The stitch at the peak of each arrow repeat, though, flattens going over the other two stitches. I really like the effect.

And this only took half the cone.



Itching to go
Friday March 13th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Today they said it may be that one is still contagious with COVID-19 as much as five weeks after feeling better. Maybe. Only testing could tell if you’re good to go.

If that’s what either of us even had, but who knows when we’ll get to know.

I couldn’t do anything about that so I ran the last end in anyway and sewed the label on with it. It’s ready whenever I am.



Totally tubular
Friday March 06th 2020, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I had some silk yarn that had been knitted into a tube, tape style, and started swatching it today. The size 8s were really too small; 9s (5.5mm) came out a lot better.

It surprised me how fast my arms got tired but I got two hours in anyway, my first knitting in almost three weeks. Man, it felt good to see something new coming to be and anticipating who would love it. It felt like it had been forever.



Anticipatory
Wednesday March 04th 2020, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

(Baby Crawford peach, Alphonso mango.)

I needed to run the ends in, wash the mill oils out, and give this afghan to its recipient. (There’s a different shade of brown left in stock, machine washable extra fine merino, here.)

So of course that’s one of the first things I asked the nurse practitioner about: how long should I leave it protected from me in its ziplock?

Wait till you’re better, she counseled.

The water was burn-your-skin hot; I pushed it down into it with the bottom of the detergent bottle and let it soak a good one.



Well that went sideways
Monday February 10th 2020, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Actually, that title was supposed to be a pun on the pattern but the picture is sitting in another folder, refusing to come out to play till it’s had a nice nap, so instead the title is a commentary on the post.

The knitting I was supposed to be working on is how the pomegranate tree got pruned this evening, and that needed to be done, too, so, it’s all good. I did knit an entire skein afterwards.

Maybe I’ll have it ready in time. Maybe she’ll get to choose from other FOs. Maybe I’ll just wait.

p.s. A Lego guitar. Enjoy.

Edited in the morning to add the photo.



Another good guy
Monday January 27th 2020, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

The friend I gave the five hats to, who promptly distributed four of them to his friends, dropped by for just a moment this evening with another friend in tow.

So I briefly put him on the spot by asking the guy, Now are you one of the friends who got one of my hats?

A quizzical, Hats?

So he turned that to the subject of–and here the two of them interwove various sentences to tell it–how our friend had gone running, had managed to spear his on a tree branch overhead, didn’t realize it wasn’t still on his head till later and he’d gone back and looked and looked and just couldn’t find it. Meantime, the second guy had gone running later, in the same place, had seen and recognized that hat and had snagged it and returned it to him. They were laughing at all the improbabilities that had happened for that to have worked out, but it had. Good times.

I grabbed my purse and checked: they were still in there. Good. I didn’t have to interrupt to go looking in the other room. I asked friend two if he’d like one of these?

He in great delight picked the foggy blue one. Now he had one of his own. Watch out for those tree branches!

They went off with the guy touching the new softness on his head in the chill of the evening, marveling and thanking and man that felt great.



Warm and cozy
Saturday January 25th 2020, 7:52 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The warm brown is dominant in real life–this is the one I was working on at the mechanic’s on Tuesday. It had been kicking around in my purse not quite all there yet ever since.

Sometimes you just need to go finish something.

So I did.



The mechanic
Tuesday January 21st 2020, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

That light gray-blue Mecha wool hat a few weeks ago that I didn’t quite get to finish while the garage worked on my tire?

Guess which idiot light came back on in the car?

Sure, you can bring it over right now, he said on the phone.

When I told him the tire light had blinked for several blocks on the way there before going solid, his own light bulb went off and he was glad I’d mentioned it so he knew what to check.

It was a different tire this time but it was also the sensor that tells the car about it. The car’s an ’07; he said the other three would probably start failing, too, but at least hopefully not all at once.

He’s such a gentle, kind man.

Today though he looked like the world was heavy on his shoulders, and all I could think of was how much he reminded me of my cousin John.

I hadn’t unpacked my purse from the trip yet. That hat he’d seen me working on the last time was in there. I also had a brighter blue one (London Sky) I’d knitted on the plane, with a third (Piedras) on the needles I’d started at the airport on the way home.

Again, I almost finished it before he called me over.

After he’d rung the work up I presented my own and offered him his choice. He was blown away. He picked the London Sky, and as he went to put it on his head I told him, “Happy Birthday!”

He looked at me in surprise: “Did you know it was my birthday?!”

Me, surprised but delighted: “No!”

“It was the 17th,” he said, “but, yeah, it was my birthday.” It was cold. He told me his ears were warm already and that he’d needed that. He told me his girlfriend was going to love it, so I asked his girlfriend’s favorite color and unlike quite a few men I’ve met he knew it without hesitation.

Pink? Suddenly I have an excuse to buy a skein of yarn. Twist my arm.

Anything I can do, when I know I can do at least that one small thing. John would want me to. Can you just picture the man’s happy anticipation towards making her happy once he gets it?

The way my tires are going, I’ll get everybody in the shop by the end of next month.