I’m still getting used to not having this to work on
Friday September 29th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

A few days ago, it kept looking like a bright red pair of Keds with white shoelaces.

Now it just needs a good daytime photo. And maybe another line under the scuffed-out-grass area so you can actually see it. Or maybe that’s just the bad photo.

A skill you will use every day for the rest of your life no doubt
Tuesday September 26th 2023, 9:52 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift


It didn’t absolutely need the framing at the sides, but I like it so much better, as you and I and everyone and anyone knew. One side to go. Thank you!

Edited to add: I wrote this and only then did it hit me: I spent all that time adding the scuffed spot in the grass under the tire swing to give it a sense of motion, the leaves on the flower, snipping the yarn ends, hours counting stitches and doing the ribbing on one side and not only did I not do the door handle, I snipped the end that was going to BE the door handle! Aargh!

So to write down quick what I just did because I got a nice lever handle and I’ll never remember how I did it: I brought the new yarn from below the door frame, crossed it over to the nearest stitch on the door, held that from pulling out while I got out a knitting needle and used the sideways bar I’d just made to knit a stitch into. Then I did a yarn over, then made a third stitch with the bar. Three stitches. Then I crossed the third stitch over the first, then the yarnover over the first, and after pulling the yarn through to knot the end in a point, got the yarn needle (eye type) back out and pulled the  yarn down to the left of what I’d just done to the back. And then I wove in the two new ends.

Oh look at that black stitch that should have been white at the bottom of the door. And guess who just snipped the new white ends off!


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.

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.

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.

But I did finish the barn this morning
Tuesday September 05th 2023, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

To match the actual barn, I debated on a purl line between the big doors and the loft window and didn’t but probably would in a do-over, but never mind.

The deadline just became Christmas again, so I have plenty of time to work more of that cloud into the skyscape.

I might be taking it easy tomorrow, or it might have no effect on me: I got a flu shot today. Just before spending time in radiology–where so far the results sound good. No ovarian masses.

Yay. I can relax.

Run run run
Sunday September 03rd 2023, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Twenty-five rows since I got the blue yesterday afternoon, a record.

Adding wispy cirrocumulus clouds is slowing that right down–but also a sign of thinking I can get this done before my sudden deadline of next week.

(As I start my second ice-my-hands session.)

Royal Mail said they had it, the Post Office said they didn’t
Saturday September 02nd 2023, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

At 3:10, the yarn came after all: the long-awaited 6-ply replacing the mistake of the 10-ply. How many people get to have custom-milled yarn in their afghans?

At 3:45, the 300 grams had been hanked, scoured, rinsed four times, and was spinning the excess water out in the washer. And yes that means I didn’t soak it in the suds long enough but I was in a ripping hurry.

At 3:45 Michelle walked in the door from a lunch with her cousin to tell me that there was no room in the car for a third person and would I be horribly disappointed if I let her dad do the furniture hefting with her?

She was moving it out of storage–it was far, far cheaper to replace it than to move it to Boston no matter how nice it was–and gifting it to a friend who’s a schoolteacher.

At 5:00 I decided I had maxed out at an hour of holding a hair dryer, enough. (What do people do who can’t turn their ears off for stuff like this, I wondered.) I’d made two hanks and the smaller one was done, or at least I told myself it was, and I stopped and wound it up. I also wound another yarn of much yardage that I thought I was going to knit it doubled with. I swatched. I put the much-yardage yarn back away.

At 6:00 they walked in the door and dinner was started and help was needed and then at last I finally sat down for that long-awaited glorious moment.

Then I tinked back what I’d just done because I was going to need blue on the other side of the barn, too lady, what were you thinki–it’s okay, you’re very very tired, so I then wound yet again, unwinding half the ball I’d just made. Halfsies. Two now. Try again.

And now I’m giving my hands a break after six rows. About seven more I think? before starting the upper window. And then, so soon, the barn will be done and maybe by then I will have swatched ideas for the soaring raptor I hope to put on the other side.

Man, it feels good to finally be able to dive back into this. I can’t wait to see it done.

And the now-slightly-shrunk, hair-dryered 6-ply was just exactly right for it.

Did the horse take off yet?
Wednesday August 30th 2023, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

I’d been kind of avoiding going back to the site of the skewering but it needed doing and not doing it was bothering me more. So.

I tried several methods and had to go back to the original. Next choice, while chain stitching those cross boards: a stitch too big or a stitch too small?

The white cashmere/cotton is the one that’s going to shrink the most, and the red part is certainly going to be stretched across whatever body will be under it, so clearly let’s go for too big, for now, even if it drives a part of my brain nuts.

After much experimenting, I finally ended up skewering the crosses downwards at the center, then finishing tacking down by skewering again with the other side of the yarn and working the two ends in underneath.

Given the old age of the building, having the doors a bit saggy for now works anyway, right?

Okay then. Barn doors: closed.

Alright, blue sky yarn, I’m ready for you. Royal Mail said yesterday that it has left the UK.

Screeching stop
Wednesday August 23rd 2023, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Right after I broke the green yarn for it, too.

The beautiful blue sky. All Colourmart had at the time was laceweight, so I had them ply it to where it matched the yardage count of the other yarns.

What I didn’t think of was how differently it would shrink on scouring: it’s a third cotton rather than fully cashmere, and after knitting the first ten or so stitches anyway, thinking I don’t mind a little variation, I ripped it out. Turns out I do mind that much variation. It was like comparing the size of Schwarzenegger’s muscles to, well, mine.

It’s very very very soft, though, everything you would want it to be–but now I knew why I’d had misgivings. They even asked me via email: was I sure I wanted it 10-plied?

It is just the color I wanted. They have more. I could ask them for a do-over with new cones and I’ve been debating all night. I would have no problem finding other things to do with the chunky stuff I ended up with.

The whole project would be back to waiting another ten days or so for the yarn to get to me, get hanked, scoured, dried, wound, and ready to go.

Oh well, that’ll give me time to stitch in the Xs and the chain on the tire.

Part of me thinks, oh, just forget it–use it as an excuse to drive to Kathryn’s shop tomorrow and look at the baby alpaca. You know you want to.

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.

10% of structure: accomplished
Friday August 18th 2023, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I hung a single hank of the red yarn out to hurry up and finish drying in the sun yesterday, mindful of the scrub jay years ago that had tried to abscond with an entire pound of blue baby alpaca, standing on it and yanking yanking yanking away while doing what birds do to lighten the load just before taking flight.

I washed it out immediately. It knitted up into a heathered effect that could never be reproduced. Well poop.

So. I wound the red hank. There was a knot, which was a disappointment, and I broke it there and started a second ball so that it wouldn’t catch me by surprise later mid-row.

The two balls turned out nearly exactly the same size. That knot did me a favor. Cool. I wanted to immediately start knitting.

But there were four balls plus a pull-through strand of green and I was just about to add seven of white and two balls of red into the chaos, and I made myself stop and take the time to wind those two reds into one ball together since I was going to be knitting them together anyway.

In the end I only had time to knit a single row on the afghan last night.

Also the most finagle-y one as I counted and counted again and again to make sure I was getting the intarsia set up right.

Yesterday at the dermatologist’s she really zapped a mole on my chest after I said there will be more heart monitors in my life and that thing’s in the way.

Today I was pushing myself: Colourmart got that replacement color to me super fast, I really want to be working on that afghan, I know it feels so great when I do, why am I letting myself be distracted away. I couldn’t for over a week and now I can. So go do.

I found my motivation–the sudden thought that, I am the only person who can do this. Meaning, with this specific love, intent, needle-to-yarn gauge, vision for it, sisterhood. I am the only person who can make what this is supposed to be and mean. My cousin-in-law’s abrupt passing last week reminded that we have no promises of extra time.

It is slow going now that I’m in an intense section again. My barn graph is twelve sets of five rows.

Six are now done. 10%. And it looks glorious already. I think I should add more flowers.

3-D or not 3-D, that is the question
Wednesday August 16th 2023, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

While waiting for the red yarn to be absolutely dry before winding it up into balls, this happened.

Barbara Walker’s Paving Stones pattern, multiples of four stitches (+1, she says, but I was working in the round, so, not +1) so I used 72 and then decreased in nine sets across. Etc. Malabrigo Mecha, size 5 for the ribbing, 7 for the rest, and I have a person in mind for it but I’m going to offer it as one of several choices so they get what they actually want.

I wanted to make a brown hat. I was not able in four stores to find any of it in that color, in person nor online, but I had half an older skein left; this took it to the last couple of yards but it made it.

I did say to Richard when I was showing it off, If you put this on does it make you a bobblehead?

The other thought: since there are no cables sustaining the depth in the texture, when this pattern gets wet it deflates to flatness. In which case the hat will be polka dots. It’s a risk someone will have to take.

Barn it
Tuesday August 08th 2023, 9:46 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

So I knit a row separating the afghan onto two circular needles, half here, half there, so I could lay the whole thing out perfectly flat.

Never mind that this means four tips to drop stitches off of when you go to pick it up again along with all the balls of yarn, and oh so carefully of course I did, but it had to be done.

I put two sheets of paper above it to represent the space the barn will take and to make sure the placement would be pleasing to the eye. Marked it with white yarn snips. Done. Man, I’ve been looking forward to this.

I pulled out the red.

I put it against that green, labeled Leaf Bud for that newness-of-Spring shade.

It was red anywhere else.

It was pink against that. But, but.

No. No can do.

I did have one single cone of a darker red that I’d bought on impulse at the end of a sale, and held that against the green. It was perfect. It was absolutely the one I should have been going with all along, but I didn’t even order it till the last night of the sale and one was all there was by then.

They even checked their shelves for me, but Colourmart is out. I’m not about to spend weeks on building that barn only to come out short and Cottage Yarns is closed for two weeks if I wanted to substitute in merino (which I’d rather not.)

The only thing I could do was put in an In Search Of query on Ravelry. But that would be asking people to give up the half-off new-stash cashmere they’d bought in probably just the last month, and I don’t see it happening. I don’t just need a cone, I’m knitting the dk doubled so I’d need at least two more and preferably three.

So I’m just going to have to figure out something else.

It felt weird not to be knitting it tonight.

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!