The friendly skies
Sunday September 25th 2022, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Just walked in the door, haven’t checked my messages yet, just a quick note before we collapse.

It’s the weekend before Spencer’s fourth birthday and we flew to go celebrate with the grands there.

Taking a cowl project out of my purse to get a few stitches in, I found myself with my seven year old granddaughter asking if she could work on it. More on that later. She first asked me who it was for, and I told her, I don’t know, as I thought of the times I’d worked on it during knitting zoom meetings and a doctor’s office with that same question in mind.

Still not done, and it was still that grayish blue from stash that just didn’t do it for me so it had been in no hurry. I’d started it to try to make that yarn find its rightful home at long last. Someone out there would love it if I used it.

I had, as it turned out, enough time on the plane and enough yarn on the first of my two balls to do two last repeats and that was all it needed.

The plane did some descending. I was casting off.

The plane went lower still, though the view out the window showed no signs of city yet.

I used the tip of the needle to work the yarn ends in as if I were knitting stitches into existing edge ones. Finally, I left little dangly ends that needed to be trimmed off because enough already, and I called it done with less than five minutes to spare. We touched down.

I eyed that ball band on that second ball. Plymouth Solstice, baby alpaca/yak/extra fine merino, squishy and soft.

I told myself, don’t be dumb: don’t save the ball band for some possible future project and recipient when you have one right in front of you that you won’t have time to say a word to about anything. It says hand wash only as well as what it’s made of and she needs to have that information. So I did, I took the band from the one and wrapped it around the new cowl by way of introducing her to it.

We were getting our stuff from the overhead bins, just steps from the front of the plane–and she’d vanished. Even just saying, Where is she? while looking to left and right was holding up the long line behind me.

Turns out the tall male flight attendant was blocking the view. She looked up at my question and in that moment we saw each other, and I pressed it into the hands of this older black flight attendant who’d put on a good face to the passengers the whole flight, but up at the front, had looked like she just might cry in spite of herself at any moment. She needed someone who understood her situation, whatever it was. She needed a hug.

I could do none of that in the time that I had but I needed to do what I could.

I wanted to say, Thank you for helping to make it so that we could go play with our grandchildren this weekend. I wanted to say, this is how you take care of it, tepid soapy water in a sink/as little movement to the water as possible/the lace will stretch out once it’s wet, that’s normal. I wanted to say, snip off those ends it’s okay sorry for leaving those/no scissors. I wanted to say, I am with you all the way wherever you are and whatever it is.

Instead she simply got my eyes meeting hers as she exclaimed in disbelief, having watched part of this coming to be in my hands those past 80 minutes, “For me??!”

(Anybody want that second skein, just let me know. No band, sorry/not sorry at all.)

And now I know why the kids had a last-minute change of schedule not of their making that meant that we changed our schedule to a flight an hour earlier than had been planned. Change fee $0 was a nice touch to top off how that worked out. Thank you, Southwest.

Joy and raptor
Thursday September 22nd 2022, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

So that answered the question: the small tree in the center stopped at three sets of branches, its parental figures to either side get five.

Right now they’re on the fourth.

Finishing this was going to be my Aftober project this year (the challenge whereby you finally finish something that’s been needing that last push) but I just might have to use something else for that. But we’ll see.

Hmm. A peregrine falcon soaring above the trees? Or go wider on the wings and make it a California Condor?

Row by row
Thursday September 15th 2022, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

“Your package is moving within the USPS network and is on track to be delivered to its final destination. It is currently in transit to the next facility.”

I’m going to hold them to that.

Meantime, I am well into the second tier of branches on the afghan. Three are planned, two more short ones at the top are a maybe for the momma and poppa redwoods with the little one in between staying shorter.

It’s getting there.

If it’s a race, at this pace I sure hope that gerdan wins it.

The right day for that
Sunday September 11th 2022, 8:37 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

You know, I should have had one last yarn over at the top of that dandelion. I’ve been thinking of ways to avoid that jog where the trunks go inwards a stitch at each side on their way up. You can’t see the seven rows of branching under that curl of fabric, but they’re there and (measuring tape out) I probably should have ignored my earlier calculations and started that part sooner.

There are always things you can do better the next time and it’s fine this way this time.

Meantime, we have a new young couple at church and they were asked to give today’s talks. They were funny, spiritually grounded, clearly thought the world of each other, and I look forward to getting to know them better.

The man’s mom and grandmother came.

The grandmother was taking in my blouse, this blue one, so my friend Phyllis explained that I buy them from Ukraine to help out there.

Turns out there’s an adopted grandchild in that family from Ukraine and those two women were highly interested to know where one could find such things. They’d had no idea one could.

Now they do.

Waves waving hi
Monday September 05th 2022, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Not just roots joining into the bases of the trees: gotta have a redwood in the forest that’s partly hollowed at the bottom by a fire ages ago–creating room to climb up in there and even to sit down in the cool of its trunk. One looks up and marvels at the immensity.

Little by little, it’s getting there. Don’t tell the recipients it looks in this shot like the trees have a frilly skirt–they might have a boy.

(P.S. It hit 103F today. I am exceedingly grateful for air conditioning. I certainly wouldn’t have touched this if we didn’t have that.)

And soon, branches
Saturday September 03rd 2022, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Part of me wants to ask, How is it only this far along? and part of me is going, Go go go keep going you’re getting there!

There’s the ocean, the waves on the beach, the stair into the hillside and to either side and, away from where the humans would climb, the tracks of shorebirds. There’s the seed stitch (so much seed stitch is there anyone who loves knitting seed stitch I do not love knitting seed stitch) for the roughness of the cliffs facing the water, and then back a bit from there is, at long last, where the redwoods begin.

I had all kinds of ideas of how they were going to go but ripped a little out: the very trees themselves keep it simple.

There were going to be ice plants, but the gauge is wrong for that and the daisy stitch came out as random bits of rocks on the beach for climbing over. And that fits.

The little stick figure of a dandelion because there has to be a poofball for their little one to blow on to watch the little pieces all rise up into the air.

Maybe as high as a redwood!

For the love of Dandelions
Saturday August 27th 2022, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Food,Knitting a Gift,Life

The Alaska afghans had a dandelion in them because I was so enchanted by the one outside the kids’ door at their old house in Anchorage that was blooming well above knee-high. And because I got to feed some to well-fenced-away elk through the chain links after the farmer there said that that was their favorite food. There were a few blooming just, just past where the animals could reach to and they were happy to grab the ends and spaghetti-slurp them up from us (and thank goodness for how long those stems were; the reindeer over to the left were tame but the elk came with warnings.)


I decided this afghan needed a dandelion, too. A few rows after this you’ll be able to see better where the yarnovers settle into; it’s kind of a stick figure of a flower.

But it got me thinking of Dandelion Chocolate, because they make the best there is and the pastries to match and because bite by daily bite we had just finished off our last bar from them. Chocolate and sugar. Two ingredients. That’s all.

A few people in Ukraine are making, among other things, beaded necklaces with dandelion flowers below and their seed poofs floating off above.

On a whim, I sent them a link. Not that they need to go buy jewelry for all the staff or anything–but sometimes it’s charming to know someone created something both fun and meaningful that’s out there in the world just waiting to be admired.

Of course they loved it, but then, how could anyone not.

Miss Lillian
Tuesday August 23rd 2022, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

The beach is done, the seed-stitch hillside above it is done, the steps built into the hill are finally done and the first redwood has begun.

Once this thing is finished and washed, the yarn will bloom and fill out and the areas will all look more solid.

Meantime, Lillian celebrated turning three today with much enthusiasm. It’s fun to be big!

A little more Malabrigo wool to send out into the world
Sunday August 21st 2022, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I didn’t think I could decrease every other row in dark yarn on black needles while knitting the alternate rows plain while switching between the two circulars while keeping track of where I was on each needle and where the start of the row was while Venn-diagramming the hat at the center of it all while reading the captions while attending a Zoom of knitting friends.

It will surprise no one that if you want to enough, yes, actually, you can.

Doesn’t look like much yet. But it will.
Thursday August 04th 2022, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Finished the ocean part, the waves coming in at the beach, the ice plants, and most of the beach, flowing in like Half Moon Bay.

The steep scrubby hillside that rises straight up from the beach will be seed stitch, differentiating from the stockinette of the short stretch of sand below.

And then finally I can get to the fun part. The redwoods.

Not even a week
Tuesday August 02nd 2022, 7:46 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

All that time of feeling like, hurry. Hurry. No, seriously, hurry! This needs to be done. This needs to be ready. This one. L&A’s can wait.

I was telling Richard on Saturday about that and how it felt like such a relief that it was done in–somehow in time, whoever it was supposed to be for.

His sister called Sunday. Her son had just moved to San Francisco with his wife and baby and she was flying out to help and to play grandma for the week; she would be there Tuesday.


She and her siblings are all quite allergic to wool so I thought, it would be nice, but it wasn’t realistic to hope for. And I knew if I asked, and they were, then I’d have to make not only a third baby afghan but a non-wool one for his sister, too, who also just had a baby. Right?

(Shading from the trees vs the sunset in this photo.)

Worse things have happened in my life than needing to knit for someone, c’mon.

Deadlines are wonderful things. I finally blocked this–I mean, I love the 3-D effect too but I wouldn’t want anyone to ever feel like they’d ruined it the moment water hit it–and then texted the nephew: Are you guys allergic to wool?

Answer: No.

Me (wanting to yell YAY!) Is red a good color?

Answer: One of the best. Grin.

Me: Machine washable, too.

Answer: If only babies were.

(Me: I’ll catch up with his sister later.)

I can run that one end in later
Thursday July 28th 2022, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

And with that done and out of the way, the Northern California afghan has begun.

The process
Wednesday July 27th 2022, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

(Edit Thursday morning: I just put in a better, daytime photo of the finished Alaska afghan.)

Now that I’ve finished the last pattern row on the Ravelry Red afghan it feels like all the time in the world–almost–to decide on an edging. Or not.

When our granddaughter Lillian was on the way, I made this Alaska afghan for her to arrive to in Anchorage–fully knowing that baby alpaca and silk made it gorgeous and soft but completely impractical.

Which means that after I finished it I turned right around and knitted it again in superwash merino Rios, which while not quite so soft would do just fine with her daddy putting it through the laundry.

Besides, the second time I had a better feel for how it was going to go. So call this one, which is still here waiting to be a shawl for her when she grows up, the unrough draft.

It has the bay’s edge we explored, with its ice crinkled by the incoming tide pushing up the surface like rock candy (very briefly that Thanksgiving at 12F with a stiff wind blowing!), the moose we saw, knitted in gansey the way they’re often right there but you don’t see them in the trees but that one came right up to our car and peered in at us in a childlike curiosity, the pines, the dandelion that bloomed brightly well above knee height in the summer, the snow falling on the towering mountains, the bald eagles we saw.

Sam was offered a job that would take them to Washington State as her husband was driving her to the hospital in labor.

A year later she sent me a picture of the bald eagle in the tree over their new back yard.

As I thought about what to knit the 50/50 cashmere/cotton for L&A’s long-hoped-for baby on the way, I found my mind going back to those two afghans yesterday. Interesting, custom-designed, gender-oblivious. But their baby was going to be a Californian.

The waves, yes, oh, you have to have the beaches. The pines–taller, way way taller, hon. The eagle will be a peregrine falcon, the dandelion will be ice plants (non native but quite prevalent around the Monterey Bay, Kaffe Fassett memorialized them in his colorways evoking where he’d grown up), I could do those in Daisy stitch. The hills going straight up above the beach, the steps of rock or wood built here and there for safer access down to the water.

The redwoods. Of course the redwoods. How could they be anything else?


Red flames chevron
Tuesday July 26th 2022, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Ten more rows to finish this pattern repeat. That’s my arm, complete with vyshyvanka embroidery, holding the baby afghan up while it’s touching the floor.

All of this knitting these past few weeks, all this time, and it wasn’t till quietly working the row before last that the picture finally opened up to my inner sight how the next one should go. Has to go. Was always meant to go. What it has to look like. And why of course this red one wasn’t meant for L&A’s baby because that motif was going to be the one for them all along.

And yet the flames one had demanded to come to be, too. I’ve said several prayers of, Please make it so obvious that there’s no question when You’re trying to tell me who its recipient is.

There’s this unmistakable sense of joy when I have–I can just hear my Dad chiming in with, Oh, you’re going to love this.

Now that I know what goes on the needles next (as the coral reef afghan waits patiently) it’s suddenly a little harder to spend the time to add an edging to this one, so maybe I won’t. Ten rows and go. Block and then I’ll decide.

No fireworks
Monday July 04th 2022, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Grieving Highland Park, the morbid and angry thought on this Fourth of July was, What could be more American these days than a mass shooting with innocent parade-watchers shot dead?

And please, please, please, can we vote out the people who are okay with us having more of these?

So I picked up the needles to create a little solace.

Now, here’s where I admit out loud that all along, there’s been this feeling hovering around this baby blanket of, this isn’t going to be the only one.

Yonder daughter came over. Loved that I was making it.


She’d been really hoping I’d make a white cashmere/cotton one like the one I made her other close friend, so beloved still by that baby who’s now five that when they moved to the mom’s native New Zealand and left nearly all their belongings behind, that blanket came with. Not having it was unthinkable.

She wanted that level of passionately loving this blankie again, and she just couldn’t see it in wool (side note: to which she’s allergic), no matter how nice. As for cultural reactions, she reassured me that whatever the immigrant grandparents might think, the prospective parents are thoroughly American and white is no problem at all.

Okay, I’m at 11″, let me just finish this one first because someone is going to need it to be already done and I just don’t know when nor who they are yet. It still feels like the right thing to be spending this time right now on, and I’ll have months to get the other ready.