Counting the days
Friday January 19th 2024, 10:49 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The wild violets of my childhood, the irises out back, purple flowers it is.

The stash cones said cashmere/silk but turns out they are a grabby, snaggy, nubbly cashmere/tussah silk. Not bombyx. And super thin, so I’m using four strands in the two shades, two and two. The effect is quite pretty in real life.

Three tree trunks here, one river, two sandy sides to it, another tree trunk the other side, random boulders at water’s edge, and scattered around, many with their individual strands rather than carried all the way across were twenty bleeping four-stranded purple snaggy flowers.

Even though I was pulling each strand through every time I changed colors, those still snarled and I spent over an hour doing a single row.

Till I gave up and broke parts of the tangled wad off. It takes a lot to get me to do that but those things needed a time out. I could wind more ends in later if I had to to make up for it.

Turns out I hadn’t noticed that I’d already finished most of those violets and all I had to do was run their ends in and now they were sitting there primly waiting for it.

After that the whole thing straightened up and flew right down the needles. Three flowers I can handle. There may be more later. We’ll see how it looks and what the eye will demand.

Four rows today, I figure about 320 to go. Eighty days? Let’s see if I can beat that.

Monday December 25th 2023, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

(This isn’t the one, it’s just one of the many like it.)

What I wanted to make didn’t seem to matter: the same old same old Malabrigo Mecha in Teal Feather is the skein that jumped into my purse for the outbound flight. Clearly, it was the boss of me.

I was going to make a fancier pattern at least, but on the first row above the ribbing I found I’d goofed the stitch count for that. I didn’t have the patience to risk tinking back the stitches twice: seventy in plain stockinette it was. Again. No openwork for you!

It was a shorter flight than the one to Seattle so this hat wasn’t done when we landed.

We played with grandkids. The five year old challenged me to a game of chess–not that he really knew the rules yet but it was something the big kids did and he wanted to show that he was one, too.

His daddy did a we’ve-got-this, strode on over, and coached him on moving what where when. “Checkmate!” after maybe my fourth move with his youngest grinning at winning.

Back at the airport all too soon. Time to finish that silly hat. The last few stockinette rows, the decreases that always take longer than you’d expect, the bind off, and then–just do it. I wove the ends in, fished in my purse for the folding mini-scissors to snip off the extra length, and stuffed the thing back into my purse and finally, finally started the cowl I’d planned to make this trip.

Thus the hat ended up in the overhead luggage bin, well out of reach. The seatbelt sign never turned off. No one on our row but the two of us this time anyway.

Curbside, Uber gave us a wait time of an hour. Oh joy. Not two minutes later his phone buzzed again: someone had decided to take the fare and he was already doing the turn-around into the terminal. Yay!

A 2007 Prius pulled up to us. The man’s name was Jamal, an older guy. His accent was pretty thick but his command of the language was as good as any native-born’s from what I could hear; he clearly loved a good conversation and meeting new people and he was just a joy all around. From the back seat I watched the brim of his old thin faded baseball cap moving up and down and around giving motion to his words. Had we had a good trip? He asked questions, then listened to hear the answers like we were old friends.

He jumped out of the car to help get our luggage out for us.

I reached into my purse: “Do you like this shade of green?”

Confusion in his face.

“I knitted it for you.” Then to clarify, “I knitted it but I didn’t know who it was for. Now I do. It’s wool, machine washable wool. It’s for you.”

Our loquacious driver was suddenly speechless.

He took it in kind of a slow motion, eyes on it, feeling the thick warmth of the thing against the chilly air in the fading light.

It was as perfect a Christmas Eve scene as that little hat could ever have hoped to be a part of.

We wished the best of the holidays to each other and each other’s families with a wave goodbye, pulled our bags on up the walkway and away.

Thursday November 30th 2023, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

So, the hat that I started working on while Mathias was doing that two-mile bike ride and Lillian was doing a shorter one: it was the Mecha Piedras yarn that I’d moved to the suitcase at the last minute.

It was done and in my purse on the flight home, itching to get out.

I’ve mentioned before about using the wheelchair service at airports.

We were the last flight of the day at the end of Thanksgiving weekend so of course it ran late, and though there were four wheelchair pushers lined up at landing with names on their tablets for who was to claim which–somehow there was none for me. Come on, Southwest. This particular time, I really needed it. Maybe someone had given up and gone home after a long day; I mean, I couldn’t blame them.

The gate attendant made a call. I expected, especially at that hour, that we’d be standing around a very long time if anyone came at all.

Within two minutes at most I suddenly heard a cheerful, Hi, friend!

Oh cool! It’s you!

It was the petite Asian woman who’d pushed me before. She was delighted to see me. She’s the kind of person who’s delighted to see everybody any time. She makes everybody’s day.

Who else could it possibly have been for.

We were in the new and not quite finished part of the airport where part of the walk to baggage claim includes a wall on one side and a roof but you are exposed to the great outdoors on the right, and it was quite cold. And pretty dark.

I fumbled with my purse, wondering if I’d be able to find my folding scissors just with my hands. Was–? Yes it was, and I pulled out the hat, too, turned it inside out as she pushed, and snipped the ends off as she watched from behind.

That mottled brown was exactly perfect.

I’d offered it to Sam’s old university friend but Sandra, who is a serious hiker, had chosen a different colorway and with no yarnovers after I’d said the solid one would be warmer. The Piedras was in the knit two together/yarnover repeating every other row pattern like the one I did on the flight out: fine for San Jose’s temps. So that worked out.

I made this, I told the woman. It’s cold out! as I offered it to her once she pulled up to the conveyer belt and could stop a moment. It’s wool. And then I pulled out her tip, beyond grateful for the help.

She was thrilled.

So was I. I knew, I just knew, that that hat wasn’t supposed to come home with me and the further into the flight we’d gotten the more I’d wondered how that could be so.

And then that soft washable wool ended up in the best possible place.

In deep teal green
Monday November 27th 2023, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I had yak/silk lace weight in my hands.

But it’s such easy, brainless knitting for travel and makes big enough stitches that you don’t have to worry about seeing them in bad light–so I packed three skeins of Malabrigo Mecha and the needles to match, along with that yak, with the Mecha skein in browns (Piedras) going into my purse to work on first.

Right before we left for the airport the next day, though, something went, no, not that one, and I switched it for a Teal Feather.

I started the first hat in the airport, and given that it was the busiest travel day of the year we got there two hours early. I did the ribbing… And then decided to put a little more effort into this one. Seventy stitches: knit eight, knit two together, yarnover, repeat, then a plain row, then repeat those to make slanted and dotted lines chasing each other all the way up.

Once we got onboard there was a woman at the empty-nest stage next to me and we got to talking–always a little difficult with me especially in such a loud environment, but she was patient and we made it work.

She kept studying my hands carefully. She told me her grandmother had crocheted. She’d never learned either craft. It was clear she wished she had, and she asked me questions about knitting two stitches at once like that and the loop around, and did I go into it like this?

No, like this; otherwise it would twist the strand and close up the hole the yarnover makes and you can do that but that’s not what I want. (With a hat, since I was taking away stretchability with the doubled stitch I wanted to hold onto the stretch the yarnover gives it.)

She lived in San Diego and was flying to visit her son in Tacoma. (For those not familiar with California geography, San Diego sits on the border with Mexico. Tacoma, WA is in commuting distance of Seattle.)

I instantly thought of my friends Mel and Kris‘s description of a guy who called 911 in Oregon after getting stalled out in a snowstorm as he was driving through; they had way too many people to get to, but he explained he lived in San Diego and didn’t *own* any long pants, and he was shivering in his car in shorts. They made a beeline and rescued him.

A warm wool hat. She was so going to need that in Tacoma. It was going to hit the upper 20s. The Teal Feather went beautifully with her jacket and the brown would not have at all and I found myself silently marveling.

I mentioned to her–and my memory was totally wrong, so I’m typing this in hopes that somehow she sees my abashed correction–that how far your thumb and forefinger can stretch equals the length of your foot. It doesn’t. What my friends who love to knit socks (I am not one) actually told me was that across the top of your arch to your big toe equals that measurement of your hand. It’s a way of getting the length of someone’s foot without telling them what you’re up to with those needles of yours.

But back to the scene.

I got to the decreasing at the top at long last and ditched the yarnovers while keeping the knit two togethers at the same place and the every other row thing. My usual is to continue till I have five stitches left in each repeat and then no further plain rows–but we were pretty far along in that flight. At seven or eight left I went straight to decreasing every row from there, knowing that missing those last plain rows would make a flatter, somewhat gathered top and in effect shorten the hat by drawing it in more tightly. That was fine. Worst case would be that the ribbing couldn’t be folded up much at the bottom.

The silent please please let me finish this runrunrunrunrunrunrun became a soft, I did it I did it! under my breath. I worked in the ends as best I could with the knitting needles. I’ve done better. It would do, though, it would definitely do.

I turned to her with, Happy birthday! as I put the hat in her hands, telling her she was going to have to snip the ends off herself.

Her eyes got huge. Then she squeezed them shut tight. I could just feel her grandmother nodding with a smile of joy–yes. Yes. And so knit worthy. You taught her well, Grandmother.

I’m Alison, I told her, what’s your name?

She probably said Lisa but for the life of me I heard Larisa, which is my sister-in-law’s name and a well-loved one.

She told me that her son had planned on taking her shopping after she got there because she needed a warm hat.

I thought about it (I think we were coming in for the landing at this point) and reached back into my ziplock and pulled out the very small ball of remaining yarn I had just put in there, looked at it–you know, just a little bit more warmth, right? –and found myself declaring with a nope out loud, I’m not going to make a pompom.

She exclaimed in delight, *I* can make pompoms! and took the ball of yarn and left us both laughing.

Whoever she is, I think we both felt like we came away with a best friend for life. I hope she had a fabulous Thanksgiving with her son.

Ten-stitch diamonds
Tuesday November 14th 2023, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I was doing some stash diving this afternoon and pulled open the drawer that had all the tubular-knit silks in it like the white I’d knitted into a cowl two weeks ago: there were blue, turquoise, light bluish turquoise, coral, and burgundy (two). Just picture all of those dancing against the background of that kilogram of the white in an afghan!

Or I could make six people happy with those colors and who knows how many more with the white. Some of which I could dye. I wouldn’t even have to make any colorwork decisions, just grab one and go.

The blue yelled, Me! ME! the loudest. Same pattern as last week’s cowl because I’m lazy like that. An extra repeat this time (nine now) and a size up on the needles to make up for the shrinkage to come.

Wednesday November 08th 2023, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Thick yarn again, big needles again, red again, 75/25 cashmere/merino, and it is so soft. I bought 150g for $18 and used 51g to get 22.5×12.5″ before blocking (as shown). Basically, six bucks.

This is why Colourmart‘s mill-end half-price sales are addictive.

It got its picture taken before the wash.

After a 36F morning
Monday October 30th 2023, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Who let the winter sneak in at night? Suddenly there’s another cowl started. I mean, gotta have a waiting-room project for Wednesday, I figure, except it might be done by then.

Piuma cashmere from stash.

Apple leaves in October
Saturday October 28th 2023, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

At least that’s what the pattern looks like to me.

I always scour coned yarns to get the mill oils out, but I often wonder if one needs to with silk.

This afternoon I finished the ribbon silk cowl that had puttered along all week (deadlines being a helpful thing; I want it ready to give tomorrow.)

And then I washed it. Didn’t even wait for the hot water, just a quick tepid soak with suds for ritual’s sake.

The change! All those twists that had been running through my hands for hours and made it hard to get the needle in the stitches as quickly as I’m used to–it didn’t look like that now at all. It shrank a little, yes, but the ribbon had turned into a tube. It had depth. It had much greater softness. It had smoothness. No angles in the fabric anymore, it was all rounded everything. Such a transformation!

As I marveled at it I thought at myself, You’ve done this before. This is not new. It’s just been a long time and you forgot.

Silk usually dries very fast but this was so dense that I had to take a hairdryer to it to be sure it’ll be ready in the morning. It’s not done, but at least it’s closer. Here, let me go run those ends in.

If only those two women at the bone scan office could see it now.

New here
Sunday October 22nd 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

Someone was having a hard day today and she came into the meeting room and sat down by herself. Behind me. With an expression that both said, Nobody talk to me, and, Please someone talk to me and get me out of this funk.

She’d moved here in September. Church is a good way to make new friends fairly fast–but it can also be a place where you see other people having friends like you had where you just left and now you’re stuck knowing nobody, and it can feel at first like you’re never going to know anybody, either.

I remember….

The woman running the meeting has worse face blindness than I do, and tried to explain that as she invited new people and visitors to introduce themselves.

Then she walked up to the woman behind me. With hesitation. She held out the microphone questioningly, clearly wishing she could remember, and the woman shook her head a sharp no.

She wanted to feel like she belonged. She wanted to already be recognized.

And I suddenly knew why, as I told Richard tonight, I’d had a nagging feeling all week like I ought to put everything down and go knit a cowl.

Silk ribbon yarn in a soft white, 5.5mm needles that’ll take it up quickly: soft, shimmery, warm for cool days and cool for warm ones and almost impossible to be allergic to–I didn’t start it earlier because I had no idea where to go with that feeling, which yarn, how would I know what color, who what why. But I know now.

Here’s the part that’s quietly blowing my mind: I can picture her face.

I used to never ever forget a face. I was very visual. It was part of what I thought made me me. Till a head injury made it so it was impossible for me to remember one till I’d seen the person three times and not always then. It taught me a whole lot of humility. Particularly about what matters.

But now, I’ve totally got her face in my mind and I can’t wait to see it light up next week.

Thursday October 12th 2023, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Well, I had plenty of earth tones but almost no water tones and so the water tones arrived yesterday to, y’know, help me use up those earth tones and I wound and scoured all six new cones today and they came out so soft and I was going to show them off, all lined up in order.

Hopefully tomorrow my creaky old iPhone will let the photo escape. (It did, here you go.) Anyway, I have a good idea/I have no bleeping idea how I’m going to pull this next big project off but it is absolutely demanding that I do so and chomping at the bit.

And who am I to argue with a good yarn.

Just spritz a little water on those wrinkles
Friday October 06th 2023, 3:26 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Two texts from me:

Your mail is here.


She wasn’t home and was utterly baffled as to why I would be saying that. (She reassured me afterwards that the box was pretty safe where it had been left.)

First, as she opened the box, a pack of three soft thick wool socks with a post-it note attached: Toenail guards. Please use. (Yeah, they said Last One when I bought a set for me previous to that. They say men’s, but they’re not too big on my feet after running through the hand wash cycle on the machine so I knew they’d be okay, maybe even for both of them.)

Then a Lands End zipped medium tote bag, and inside that, a ziplocked…

And below all that, several sheets of paper from different stages of plotting how I was going to knit this with a post-it note on each describing the journey. Including one sketch I liked but didn’t use after discussing how to get the the angle of the side of the house within the stitch count I had: “Don’t try for perspective, Mom, do it head-on.” And so I had.

Carolyn was absolutely blown away. She told me she had never been so surprised in her life.

And later that of course I could use her picture.

It is finally, finally in its natural habitat, where it looks the best it ever has. It has at long last come home.

Little-Thursday, big-Friday
Tuesday October 03rd 2023, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Me, yesterday, looking at the state’s update of where the new covid booster was currently available: Man. This is like when the original shot came out, where you have to get out of the blue areas to find any and the pharmacy chains haven’t improved their user interface one iota. Anyway, (it was almost not a question) you want to go up to Santa Rosa?

He gave me The Look. We were both remembering that day trip to get him his first shot in Antioch two years ago and that’s what that would be like all over again. How about we not.

I looked again today because I also learned last time that persistence pays off.

A small mom and pop pharmacy in Newark had just gotten some in. Openings today. Across the Bay and before rush hour gets too bad.

About an hour later we were hopping in the car for our appointments.

They had four chairs set up for giving the shots and the obligatory 15 minute observation afterwards–that was all the space they had. Clearly we weren’t the only ones who had found them and those chairs were filled, one right after another.

Afterward, given that the effects were likely to wipe me out the next day, when we got home I quickly threw together the long-anticipated package with the afghan to the post office a little before closing.

An aside here to Margo Lynn: Yes, that too. Caught the clerk ringing it up as New Jersey and got him to correct that real quick.

I drove away from there wanting to shout, I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT!!!

It’s not enough to make the thing–you have to get it to its owner. They are on their ways now towards a sorting facility.

I think I’ll turn in a bit early…

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.