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.



Checking out volumes from the yarn library
Thursday January 16th 2020, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Projects. I do them one at a time and keep at it till they’re done.

Except when I’m about to be traveling, in which case forget it. Mecha yarn for airplane knitting, don’t forget the second circular for the tops of the hats, try to match the colors to whom I’ll be seeing and try to leave room for, y’know, the actual clothes in there.

And then a ziplock of no particular glory caught my eye.

In no way was that Rios planned much less thought of: black? Who wants to knit black stitches on a very dark rainy day? But suddenly I was going through my needles looking for short-corded 5s for it.

It had to be that patten. Fair isle, with one color twisted around the other for every single stitch and then the balls needing to be untangled 84 times per row in the midsection of the hat. It challenged my “I can do anything for ten rows.” It always does. I always do it. But not very often.

I’m done with that part now and I really like it.

I started out with it wondering which of my late cousin John’s friends it would be for and how would I even know if it was but shouldn’t I be making this for his three siblings but there’s just the one of it…when halfway through that section there was this definitive lightning-strike moment.

I knew, and how had I ever not known, and of course, and man I’m so glad this is almost done now so that for sure it’ll be ready in time. I’m so glad I had those colors not only in my stash but put together like that, waiting for me to catch up.

Which is all I’m going to say about it quite yet.



Cashwool afghan
Friday January 10th 2020, 9:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift

Turns out, all it needed was for a Great Big Corporation to put me on hold long enough on speakerphone.

It’s not exactly how I’d do it next time but it’s pretty darn snuggly and good. Note to self: I needed to add a pair of plain rows before going into the lace pattern for the separate edging pieces. That’s obvious now and I should have seen it.

Now to go scour the mill oils out in hot water. I will not, however, run it through the dryer and totally fuzz it out–that’s for the parents-to-be to mess with (or not as they choose), I want to present it at its best.

Note to self: two strands dk Cashwool from Colourmart, size 5.5mm US 9 needles, 183 stitches, 51.5″ wide by 62.5″ long after rinsing but before scouring in hot soapy water, and it took 1125 grams (not quite two and a half pounds) to make. My swatch promises it will not shrink appreciably even in the dryer.

(Note: If you click the Show Items: All button in the upper left on the Colourmart page, you can see the sold-out Lavander (their spelling) color that I used to check against the Violet that’s in stock. Mine’s lighter.)



Cousin John
Monday January 06th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

John sent me this selfie, looking up, and it took me awhile to figure out what seemed so odd about it: it’s that I always saw my 6’7″ cousin from well below. The perspective was so different.

His father had Parkinson’s with dementia and his mother was becoming frail; he took them into his own home, and when it became clear that that was a full time job now he quit his to take care of them.

He never married, but his father is why my parents met: our dads served Mormon missions together across French-speaking Europe right after the war. Dad later went to Utah to go visit his close friend David, and David’s little sister heard an unfamiliar voice across the house and ran a few steps back to her room to dress in something nicer and then Mom came back out and met Dad.

Uncle David and Aunt Bonnie met playing in the symphony together, so music was an important part of their and their childrens’ lives. John played piano and French horn.

Uncle David died a few years ago; one year ago, I flew into town for Aunt Bonnie’s funeral.

Everybody wanted to thank John for all that he’d done for them and everybody wanted to rally around him in his loss–what do you do when everything is different now.

He wasn’t one to say much. But if you talked to him you knew he loved you. Period. Everybody. I just got off the phone with my older son who said, Yes, I saw him at Grampa’s funeral in October and we talked for several minutes and he was just the nicest guy.

John mentioned to me about twenty years ago that he was allergic to wool, although, other fibers seemed fine.

There was a cousins-only get-together after the service, a reunion for our generation. I asked John when it seemed a good moment for it if we could step into the other room where the noise level wasn’t quite so bad for my hearing.

He, a bit quizzically, followed me over there.

He nearly cried when I pulled out a keyboard for his head. Baby alpaca, silk, cashmere: no wool. I’d remembered. He was intensely grateful at being thought of, at being seen. He exclaimed in the rawness of his loss, “She was my best friend!” We held each other and I wished I could make it better.

I had no idea from where I lived that that fog of grief never lifted for him and that the depression was spiraling him so far downward. I would have done anything, we all would have. I was stunned when my brother called with the news today. It is unfathomable that my beloved cousin John, the one whose kindness and empathy were why I named my son after him in hopes of raising a man as good as he was, is gone from us.

He had lost how to love himself as much as he loved each of us.

I am gutted.



Sometimes you just need to dive in like that
Saturday January 04th 2020, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

(Photo from early on where I was trying to capture how the same stitches looked blocked vs not. Even if the one is upside down from the other. Water is magic.)

A friend who’s a grad student at Stanford asked for help and we invited him over for the resident geek to coach him.

It turned into an eight-hour marathon.

Which meant a marathon knitting session for me, interrupted by a quick trip for groceries and I made myself stop every now and then and go do something else with my hands, but essentially I knitted from ten a.m. past six. Icepacks were my friend.

I lined up the lightly blocked afghan with the not at all blocked bottom border, measured the blocked side border and counted repeats and went back and added one more to the edging piece. It’s now blocking. But not cast off yet, with the thought that if I need to add another before the sewing I can.

So now at least I know how long it will take to knit its twin for the upper side.

But that moment with everything lined up, standing back and taking in how it looked: there was this immediate sense of YES! *This* is how it was supposed to look! It made it all worth it.