FOROY abated
Monday May 29th 2023, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

All that stifled desire to finish the white afghan spurred my winding cone after cone on the niddy-noddy this morning (in between delivering the apricot seedling) in order to get it ready for scouring–the pre-shrinking, the blooming, the softening. I did this much by the afternoon, with a few more over the weekend and a few this evening, about six thousand yards.

I opened a zipped tote bag to pull out one I’d wound up Saturday to add to the picture but it never made it in because as I reached in I saw it and stopped.

Was it really.

How. could. it. be.

It was!

Then how did I not see it Saturday?

That Kone I’d been making the white afghan from, where the 900g had come in two cones? One of which was 160 grams more than the other?

Apparently when it arrived I’d put the smallest cone aside to make a cowl from and then forgotten about it: there had actually been three. The last 150 grams, right there, explaining the weight discrepancy on the other two. Mysteries solved.

FOROY: Fear Of Running Out of Yarn.

I checked the color, I checked the spinning, I really scrutinized every bit of it to make sure I had it right, but yes–it’s a match. If the stuff on the way is a match too well super duper, but I can manage with this.

Meantime the hardest part of the next project to get myself to do, the scut work of the job, is already and even enthusiastically mostly done because my frustration made winding endless yards of still-mill-treated yarn into a useful and comforting outlet.

Do you ever have one of those moments where it feels like G_d’s putting your faults to good use?

Sudden screeching halt
Saturday May 27th 2023, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

To recap: I started out with two sets of 900g of the 64/36 cashmere/cotton, one of which came divided into two cones–and I was working the yarn doubled from those two; the slightly larger of them, I now know, was 160 grams bigger.

I made it to the end of the eleventh motif with about a yard to go on the smaller and got out the waiting full cone. Four motifs to go, was the plan.

Head tilt.

It didn’t match. It clearly, obviously, didn’t match.

But Colourmart always matches! I’ve bought yarn from them 18 months apart that was still the same dyelot, but this was spun slightly looser, was whiter, and had less of a feel of machine oils to it. Bought two months apart with the same picture, but it was clearly from a different mill run.

If I had worked from the two separate sets in the first place, and I nearly did, there would have been no problem. I’m just glad I was able to get that eleventh motif finished!

So I have two options: break off the remaining strand, wind off 80 grams from it to have two, and make as much of an edging as I can and hope that it’s big enough and that the thing doesn’t come out too lopsided.

Or: remember when I did that math to get it to twin bed length? I ordered more to be sure I could, figuring I could always use that nice a yarn at that cheap a price, and it is on the way.

So either the new yarn will match what I’ve knitted–or the other mill run. Or even if not, I’ll have two large cones to work from for the next big plain white project. I could even do extensive cabling, which generally uses up about a third more yarn.

I won’t have enough information and can’t reasonably do anything till the new one gets here sometime hopefully next week.

Ah, well, momentum, it was good while I had you.

I was pushing all the more to finish the afghan because as I stepped out of the shower yesterday a mental picture of what my next big project should be and will look like kind of stopped me and took over my brain for a minute and I spent part of yesterday going through stash to find the colors I would need. I was just going to have to push myself to finish the white. And so today I had #11 done by 1:00 pm.


So I wound and scoured new-project yarn and knitted a large swatch (we are NOT doing 72″ wide this time!) I actually swatched this time. Are we proud of me or what.

A day in May
Friday May 26th 2023, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

The tenth: done.

We have the first tomato flowers of the year. (Photo taken through netting, thus the blur.)

Re the peregrines: while the sub-adult was in courtship with the adult, a male adult flew in and took over mating duties for a single day while the teenager sat over yonder and cried audibly in camera range at being ousted. But there was no fight, because the adult male didn’t think he was old enough to be competition yet–and then was never seen again. Avian flu, we don’t know.

So the female went back to accepting the sub-adult because that’s all she had.

And so I wonder…

Of the three eggs she laid, only one hatched and it’s late enough by now that there is no expectation the other two will.

Maybe he wasn’t fertile yet after all. We’ll never know.

(Today’s video here.)

Measure twice
Friday May 19th 2023, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I did some math.

Now, the way that math is like life is that you have to start out with the right assumptions.

I’d bought two 900 gram cones (“Kone” in Colourmart speak, to differentiate from their 150g standard) of their 64/36 cashmere/cotton and they often give you a little more than you paid for so when I grabbed two to work doubled it didn’t surprise me that one was a little bigger than the other.

Today I wanted to see how much farther I could go, so I measured what was left on the cones. Subtract 36 g each for the weight of the plastic at the center, subtract from 900g each. Figure out the per inch you’ve gotten so far and how much you need to get to, oh, about 70″.

Staggered. Yes they have more I could order, but–TEN. POUNDS?? Weighted blankets R Us? My stars, the price tag!

Well, it’s pretty wide and I guess in that case I’m knitting it sideways so I can stop a lot sooner and yeah that’ll look weird–call it a design element, right? And I got back to work.

With the thought nagging at me, Wait. You know that can’t be right. Go look again.

There was still a Kone in the yarn armoire, and subtracting the plastic it’s got 980g–that extra, there it is.

Which means the two I’d been working from were of course 900g+ between the two of them.

Well then. I’ll get a good length out of my 1800+ grams. That’s still close to four pounds and there won’t be cowls or hats from any leftovers but I’m okay with that. And everything’s cool.

It is fair to say it was well received
Wednesday May 17th 2023, 8:42 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

What was her friend’s favorite color?

(She knew what that question hinted at.) I dunno; blue, I guess??

They have been each other’s bestest through years and all kinds of life experiences, and now there’s going to be three thousand miles between them. The friend dropped something off at our house a few weeks ago and her face gave away how painful it was for her that the Silicon Valley downturn was taking her friend three thousand miles away.

I gave up on the blue I’d ordered (some of it still isn’t here yet) and started just going with the off-white afghan that already had the bottom edging done so I could get it to her faster. And yet, and yet… No matter what I told it, it kept telling me that that one was actually for… And I wanted to get it done before moving day and my hands just haven’t been letting me do that much of its heaviness at a stretch…

But. I had a blue afghan. I did, and it was all ready to go. I’d bought the fingering weight yarn years ago and had dyed it three gradient shades from royal to navy and then had eventually knit them together. It was even 2/3 cashmere like the white one, though 1/3 fine wool rather than cotton. I’d offered it to someone a few years ago and they’d chosen another option, I’d offered it to someone else last year and they chose another option, and I kept thinking, it just hasn’t found its person yet. Why is it so hard to find its person–I know they’re out there, someone for whom it has to be blue.

And then I’d forgotten about it.

A certain someone just walked in the door after a farewell dinner.

Where she told her friend, You have to open this before I leave so I can relay to my mom the look on your face when you do.

Another afghan picture
Tuesday May 16th 2023, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Coming along both slowly (when I’m not working on it) and (what it feels like when I am,) fast.

The question will be which wins out, the lace stretching out once it’s wet or the fabric shrinking at that washing? I’m guessing it will be roughly a tie.

I’ve never knit fern lace in a supersized 14 stitch repeat before, and I’m liking the effect.

How to politely say don’t go when you know they’re going
Sunday May 07th 2023, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Friends are moving away, and I missed them last time but today I got a cowl into her hands before they leave: cashmere, because nothing else would do (yay for mill-end outlets so I can).

She just happened to have put on a dress this morning that matched it.

I need to be more ready to do that more often in more circumstances, because, man, it felt good to know she’d be taking part of here to there when they arrive at their new life.

I will so miss them.

Now I just have to knit 98,454 more stitches
Friday April 14th 2023, 8:47 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Huh. Where had I put that other pot? But I wasn’t really paying attention to that distraction, so, whatever.

Which is why it wasn’t till this morning that I discovered the Anya apricot pot knocked clear upside down, where it had to have been for two nights and a day by then. That was the newest, fastest growing, most promising seedling, too, I lamented at myself while scooping everything back together newly out of range of raccoons–or the garden hose as I’d reached towards the amaryllises under the awning; I probably did it myself. That’s what I get for having the thing up on something (to thwart rabbits) but not up enough.

It actually looked quite good: curved but not broken. Bright green and ready for some sun time again. I debated whether it needed to be kept shaded while it readjusted–but didn’t, and that may have been a mistake.

Tonight? It might make it but when the leaf edges shrivel like that, experience says that one’s a goner. If it were older, but it’s not.

I’ve got a few seeds left and it looks like I’m going to need them. I have friends hoping for their own Anya seedlings and I’m down to two clear successes out of sixteen by this point and two maybes.

Knit stuff: I did a fair bit of swatching, washing the swatches, hairdryering, measuring, deciding, and lots of wanting to just get on with it.

The combination of variegated blues in merino over here would be a ton of fun and I had it all planned out.

But then I swatched that 64/36 cashmere/cotton. There was just nothing like that softness. Exquisite. The bit of cotton meant the shrinkage was about 10%, all vertical. And given who it’s to be for? It totally wins. Yeah, more (and more and more) plain practical white again, but happy anticipation can make up for a lot.

That is seriously nice stuff.

Over here blue, over here white…
Thursday April 13th 2023, 9:23 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

The major reason I’d been looking for for motivation’s sake. The yarn–I think. Half wound. The plan of the pattern: half baked.

But it’s coming together bit by bit and the anticipation has set in. And that’s half the fun.

The weather is still calling for them
Sunday April 02nd 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I didn’t knit the last two hours or there would have been two done these past two days. Hats were not what I most aspired to be working on, but they are always useful, so, hey.

Well then at least no stockinette stitch, I argued at myself as I picked out the yarn.


Note that a dear friend of our daughter’s dropped by last night and found herself leaving with a previously-knit one. They do come quite in handy that way.

Nature vs nurture
Monday March 27th 2023, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Stop me if you’ve heard this one–but it looks like we’ll be having an atmospheric river pouring down on us Tuesday and Wednesday and a ton of snow in the mountains and there’s a strong wind advisory so everybody should just stay home.

(Hey, it was either talk about the weather or grouse about the clerk at CVS who told me to go wait for the pharmacist to fill my husband’s Rx, and after 35 minutes, my hat was finished, I was regretting not bringing the next ball of yarn–because there’s no way they’d make me wait that long for something the doctor had called in four days ago, right?–when I finally asked them what the status was.

That’s when she told me they had no record of receiving that from the doctor. Even though we got confirmation of it. Even though it’s a regularly scheduled med. And even though she knew I was sitting there that whole time waiting for it, and while I was, someone else was waiting sitting behind me in the vaccination area, not wearing a mask and coughing like crazy. I pulled a fabric divider between us.

But at least I got that hat done, other than running in the ends because I was too annoyed.)

So. Yeah. Coming home from that, there was a new big chunk of tree already fallen, cleared just off the roadway but that had been attached to the tree the day before. I guess it was either break off above the overpass or down on the commuter train that was disturbing its roots.

There is more of it playing road vulture (picture Snoopy hanging over the top of the tree with his death stare, trying to look fierce.)

It looks like at least one of us will have to go out tomorrow.

Heathered purple
Sunday March 26th 2023, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

We were just a moment early at church so I pulled out my little carry-around project to add a row or two, and thought at it, If I knew who you were supposed to be for I could have gotten you finished five days ago and been halfway on to whatever comes next. Oh well.

Dottie was sitting next to me. Her preferred usual spot is usually a row or two behind, but somehow not today.

She watched my hands for a bit and as the start of the meeting got pushed out a few minutes more asked me a little about it. I told her I like to always have a simple little something on hand that I don’t even have to look at, just knit by feel while my attention is on something else. My fidget spinner.

And then she said the magic words, though she had no idea: “Such a pretty color!”

And that is how the body of that hat later magically transformed from a few rows to 40, one or two away from the decreasing at the top. Bwaahahaa.

Piuma wanderings
Thursday March 23rd 2023, 5:25 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

It was one of those times when a yarn leaped onto the needles of itself. Probably because I’d made Nanci a cowl out of that peach cashmere and she’d so exclaimed over it that I made a second one. That’s probably why I bought more of it, for that matter. I have some memory of thinking I was going to overdye some, till I decided it seemed too fragile to risk having the strands felt together.

(This is as close to Piuma as they have now. That price makes me feel like I really got a bargain. Anyway.)

The second cowl sat there quietly waiting to find its person, and as the pandemic came on and our  interactions with friends died off and felt far away it became utterly forgotten.

Last year someone mentioned on Ravelry–and I rarely read the threads on Ravelry, it’s like trying to catch up on every conversation with every knitter everywhere–that she’d made her daughter a sweater out of this glorious braided Piuma cashmere from Colourmart and had wanted ever since to make herself one to match. She had some of the peach, which she loved, but that mill end was long since sold out.

How much did she need? I went looking. I did! I had a cone and now I knew why, and dye lot would never be an issue from them. I mailed it to her. She insisted on paying me. I’d gotten it on sale. I told her, how about paying it forward instead by buying something from someone in Ukraine? With Etsy waiving fees there, it all goes to them. She really liked that idea, and did, and made a point of telling me what she’d ordered so as to share that happy anticipation and sense of reaching out to good people far away who were going through so much.

And I thought, I haven’t met you, but I feel like we would be instant old friends if we ever did.

Awhile later I found two more cones, offered them in case it would help–very much so, thanks!–and I let her pay me back that time.

Months later, I found out she still hadn’t started her sweater. (I totally get that there’s this fear of losing at yarn chicken that can get a project shoved to the end of the queue.) I only know because I went looking for that conversation again to see if she had her sweater yet, because, put away in the wrong spot, I’d found one more cone of that lusciously soft Piuma. I’d had no idea I’d bought that much of it, because it was never my color. It had always been planned to be for other people, so, hey, it was for her.

So that was around Thanksgiving.

Late February, I was rearranging yarns and finished projects, going through seeing what hats and cowls were in the stash ready to go, which ones needed ends woven in–when I discovered, smushed between other things inside a ziplock, that long-forgotten twin to Nanci’s.

It could be backup to the backup to the backup, but what it would be would be the matching-yarn cowl to get that sweater off the ground because I knew how much she wanted to have it. Sometimes you just need a nudge to get started.

Not that it’s any of my business whether she ever does or not. I just enable.

I wrote her a note telling her happy birthday–I was sure she was having one some time this year–and that no, she could not pay me back this time. This was from me, it had been waiting all this time to go where it had been meant to go and now I finally knew. If by chance she lost at yarn chicken on her sweater, I was entirely fine with her unraveling this for it.

I mailed it off.

I didn’t hear back, which was unusual, because in our earlier emails back and forth she’d always been quick to respond.

Then I did, I got a note saying she was out of town helping her mom move into her (likely final) address (my heart instantly went out to them both), and her husband had told her a package had come for her from me and that it felt like yarn and she was pretty excited about that and he was going to fly shortly to come help with her mom and bring it for her to open then. She couldn’t wait to find out what it was.

And then I didn’t hear back.

And I didn’t hear back.

And I thought, well that’s fine. I got the satisfaction of sending it off and knowing she would love it and that it went to the right place and that she’s happy, that’s certainly all I needed.

You know all this weather we’ve been having? You’ve seen the pictures of the 600+ inches of snow covering everything up in the mountains near Tahoe–burying the ski lifts!–and how impassable everything’s been?

Turns out her husband had not made that flight. Nor the next nor the next nor (repeat repeat repeat.) He was snowed in, without power or water or heat for some of that and no way out but with neighbors who needed help so he did. For three weeks. How he managed through all that I do not know, and I am in awe.

Finally, finally, he got out and to where she was and handed her her long-anticipated package.

I’m picturing that moment of all those weeks of anticipation, of hard physical and emotional work for the both of them, unable to be there for each other in person through it all, all the worry, all the goodwill towards those around them that kept them going: finally getting to be back together.

And opening my silly little package as something they’d both been looking forward to.

And finding it wasn’t just yarn. It was the time of a stranger, just a little, but offered freely as they had offered their own.

And that is why I hadn’t found that cowl earlier: this was when they needed the experience of it.

While I marvel at the project that would have looked good on several people along the way but refused to be so much as thought of until the right one at the right time. At the Love that answered his and her love.

As far as I know (with a nod towards Stitches West) I’ve never met her nor she me, but oh we have. We have. As best as we know how.

One way to get a project done
Saturday February 18th 2023, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Mango tree

With all the microclimates around here, no matter what the weather sites say, after a really cold night you wait for the frost on the awning roof to start dripping down before you uncover the mango tree in the morning. That, and, somehow I just didn’t want to go out there this morning. But it had to be done. Be careful.

The top frost layer still had a bit of crispy crunchy glittery to it and I could feel the last ice crystals breaking as I pulled it off the lower layer.

Which was dry and felt cool rather than cold. Those old incandescent Christmas lights underneath are still doing their job.

But the top layer was heavy with liquid in whatever form, and I was putting my whole body into dragging it away from the mango to where it could dry out.

Which is why (and I know better, I’ve done this before) I was at the wrong angle with arms and legs opposite the direction I was leaning in when my foot caught a dip in the ground.

As I told Richard, my instant thought was Don’tfalldon’tfalldon’tfall as I tried to right myself in time.

And then you fell, he said, reasonably.

My back bounced off that vertical piece of the raised bed. But it wasn’t my head!

Ice. Immediately.

He was right, and I did, and I was a lot better off for it.


After dinner I said, I don’t see how I could have broken it.

Is the pain more localized now? he asked.

I wiggled my foot a bit. Actually, no, more diffuse, which makes more sense anyway because it was a twist not a smack.

Broken bones localize.

Yeah. Um, yay.

I found my old ankle brace but it’s still tough getting around. Elevate. Which means the UFO 1×1-stitch-switching intarsia hat that is a joy to give but a pain to make is now almost done. Yay!

Looks like four more nights of frost warnings coming up and then hopefully we’ll be done with that till, I dunno, maybe Thanksgiving?

I had a great title for this post but I don’t remember what it was
Tuesday February 14th 2023, 8:35 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

(The top straightened out after blocking. I was running low on yarn and stopped there and never did take a finished picture of the beach, the shorebird tracks across it at the sides, the steps going up the hillside, the opening in the base of the redwood trunk to the right big enough to read a book to the child in, the raptor above. This was for a California baby with multinational grandparents. I was trying to make the design with as few yarnover holes as possible for the baby to tug hard at and I only had this 50/50 cashmere/cotton yarn in the one color.)

So. The second box.

The held mail had been delivered in one of those big white Post Office bins, like they do–and it was full of leaves and clearly had been outdoors for some time. Not sure how that happened given that I had opened the front door to the mailman seconds after he’d put it down, and there are no tree leaves left around here anyway.

I was exclaiming over the quilt and the incredible and unexpected generosity of my old high school friend Susan (thank you so so much!!) and almost forgot it in my excitement–but at last, oh, right! it was time to open the second surprise box.

The printed gift note said thank you for the blanket for Alice.

I took it to Richard going, Do we know someone with a baby named Alice? An adult? Did I get someone else’s package? We compared notes. No, her baby’s Emma. No, that’s…

Finally I happened to turn the note over to the back and wait, there was more.

They’d announced their baby girl’s arrival when she hadn’t had a name yet, and then since we weren’t in the range of close friends we never did hear and that was okay. It was from Michelle’s close friend from high school, the one I’d made the California afghan for.

Inside their thank-you gift was the once-a-year special that Dandelion Chocolate does in February, with three boxes inside for parts 1, 2, and 3 of celebrating a particular origin cacao, which this year happens to be a particular favorite of mine. Sent from the factory in San Francisco.

Now for some back story: when Michelle was working in San Diego, L. was single and living in San Francisco and every time our daughter flew into town, they met up at this nearby new shop that had just the best chocolate ever.

That is how we heard of Dandelion. So when I found a book by them, I bought it for her for Christmas. Amazon then went, People who bought this also looked at… And that is how we ended up giving a melanger to ourselves for Christmas and started making our own.

Which will never live up to Dandelion’s but we did learn a lot about cacao varieties. We’ve gone up there for fun and special occasions ever since. Favorite place, wonderful people, happy memories, the best pastries, and it was a total delight when the NY Times put them in their top 10 chocolate makers in the country.

I didn’t see the big hole in the side while opening it. I did quickly see the ones in two of the three inner boxes; I started to lift them out and open them and hastily put them back in and that’s when I saw the side of the shipping box.

Rodents had not only gone after that sweet food at the post office, but the proliferation of shredded wrapper paper after they’d gotten inside meant THEY WERE STARTING A NEST IN MY CHOCOLATE. This expensive, exquisite chocolate that the givers had spent a small fortune on.

What do I DO with this?

Tie it up in a plastic bag, he offered helpfully.

Okay. Did that. (Like they couldn’t chew through that? Who are we kidding?)

It seemed inadequate and even that word is itself inadequate, and a few minutes later I came up with the brilliant idea that baby mice (in case there were any) couldn’t jump high enough to get out of the bathtub, so I put the bag in that. (If baby rats can, don’t tell me.) I did not want more critters chewing through the plastic trash and recycle bins outside–and they can if they want to enough. But most of all, I did want to be able to take more pictures if the post office required proof. And there clearly weren’t any adult critters running around this thing now.

So now I knew why the mailman was in such a hurry not to talk to me–there wasn’t much he could do about it anyway.

With a late-to-the-party thought a little later, Richard casually opined, It could have fleas in there.

AAAAAAAGHHHHHH!!!! I ran to wash my hands just because it was something I could do.

I sent Dandelion a note explaining the situation and that I did not want to tell the people who had done this very very nice thing for me–but they needed to talk to the post office. And could I possibly get a replacement?

Because much though I love their work I, I, I just can’t…!

I got a very nice note back today about trying to make it right.

And then I sent them this picture and they went oh my that is exactly how you described it.

I had already checked–the Esmerelda’s Special is sold out.

They are scheming with the team to figure out how to make a whole new set just for us.

They are amazing. Absolutely amazing.

So now we get to be surprised all over again and find out what they come up with. But whatever it is, it’ll be good.

And now they know why I offered to drive up there to have it not go through that post office again.