Got that one right
Sunday July 14th 2019, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

I’d been thinking…but I hadn’t quite convinced myself that that was the right choice for her and she wasn’t there anyway, so, never mind.

Church was over and the navy cowl was still in my purse as people were standing around chatting, the crowd gradually fading.

I still don’t know a lot of the new people but at least their faces and personalities have started to become familiar.

Then I saw the woman I’d given the most recent cowl to and she was talking to one of her friends from back before the ward boundary changes; I walked up to them saying, I was looking for someone wearing blue!

The first one laughed, the second had no idea, the first started to tell her what she was about to be in for (man, she caught on to me fast!), and then there was the “are you allergic to wool?” out of me.

Handknit wool and silk. In a perfect match to her outfit.

She went home thrilled.

I need to start the next one, because that was just way too much fun to miss out on next week.



Give it a new life
Thursday July 11th 2019, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,Politics

I’m a one project at a time person, but huge projects beg for a little puppy of a one in the purse wagging its tail end and begging for attention and the occasional treat of a few stitches here and there. You can’t lug the Pyrenean Mastiff of wool everywhere.

This one had been ongoing for over three weeks and it was bugging me: I wanted both the longterms done now. No cowl of mine should take nearly a month. I wanted to be able to start something new.

So I sat down this afternoon and worked for four hours straight to the end of the ball. I’m reluctant to name the source of the merino/silk yarn because their politics have become known and what I would consider indefensible–some of the very peoples that they denigrate help work in the mills that make this stuff.

But the yarn was in my stash, it’s quite soft, and it was pretty. Such a lovely drape to it, too.

And now it will make someone else pretty, somewhere where it will only be about the love in its making.

It was time for it to go.



Let there be purple!
Wednesday July 10th 2019, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

Hear ye, hear ye: be it known, that at 5:44 pm Pacific the two alternating strands were cast asunder from yonder baby afghan and the US 7s put aside with the knitting pronounced Finished, on this the day of my sister’s having finished her 58th year on this beautiful planet Earth, blessed be its wool.

The afghan shall hereafter be known by her name in her honor. (Well, for today, anyway, I’ll let the kids do whatever they want with it. Let me just go run in those 32 skein ends first.)

Happy Birthday, Anne!



They took a long time to fill
Friday July 05th 2019, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Knit two afghan rows, make myself put it down and do something else for twenty minutes for my hands’ sake, repeat. That’s been the pattern for lo these many days.

Which is how I quit knitting and saw the note on Facebook from my friend Michelle in San Diego. We met when her fussy toddler was made happy by a finger puppet at Lisa Souza’s booth at Stitches years ago.

I went straight to the USGS site. From 8:16 to 8:50 pm tonight, there were four earthquakes where yesterday’s was in southern California: 5.0, 7.1, 5.5, 4.9. Felt from Mexico to San Francisco to Sacramento. (We didn’t.) Yow. That last one happened in between when she posted and when I signed in a few minutes later.

Remember when they took out the concrete floor to the shed to get at the roots after the neighbors cut down the redwood tree a few months ago? We had two water containers, 35 and 50 gallons, that they had to empty so they could move them out of the way. We’ve been putting off refilling them because we don’t have a new floor to that yet–we were waiting till the neighbors are done with their addition to their house before throwing more contractors’ trucks in this block. We didn’t want to have to empty them again to move them again to have to fill them again. One does not waste water here.

Dude. Four earthquakes in a half hour and the biggest one in twenty years: you know that’s increasing pressure elsewhere in the system.

We did what we should have done from the beginning and, flashlights in hand, washed off the very dirty tops of the lids and refilled those tanks, relieved when we could finally put that second one back on. Done.

The idea of having the storage for a water emergency but with no water in it after such a strong warning was unfathomable. Yes you don’t waste water, but we are so much more than the worth of 85 gallons.

We will rest a little easier tonight knowing that’s done.

Okay, so, back at last to the afghan. I’ve got time for one more row.

(Edit, there was another 5.5 at 9:18. That’s a strong aftershock.)



Hi, Lori, here it is
Tuesday June 25th 2019, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift

I talked to an old friend briefly and she wanted to know what I’d been working on of late. I invited her over here to come see.

And then realized I’ve talked about cherries and hawks but it’s been awhile since I’ve showed pictures of the afghan I started last month. Nothing has changed except length, of course, and the pictures don’t show the depth the cables give it, but it’s slowly getting there and I’m quite pleased with it.

Also a bit ready to go work on something different soon, even while I know I’ll miss working on this once it’s done.



It’s a race
Friday June 07th 2019, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

The men putting an addition on the house next door can see right into my family room every day.

Where I keep plugging away at the same old thing just like they’re doing; we started at about the same time.

We nod or wave hi and smile every time I go out the back door, because hey, why not.

This is ~37″ long, laying flat, and ten skeins. I’ve got seven to go.



They knew the place
Friday May 31st 2019, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,LYS

The real simple solution: I put a lid on the trashcan this evening. Stifle it, eat-eth. (With apologies to Carroll O’Connor.)

The yarn store in the beach town: I went to Fillory this afternoon to show my friends who go there on Fridays that “this is all your fault” as I showed them the afghan project with a grin.

It is safe to say they approved.

One of the staff there didn’t know how to cable six across seven stitches or how the fourth one stays the middle one going straight up as the others pass over, so now those two have helped someone else learn something new as well.

While I was there, I mentioned last Friday’s incident about the tangling yarn on the skein winder, and when I got to “she went to cut it” the three women nearest me gasped audibly.

I told them thank you. It wasn’t just me, then.

But I had done nothing about it after getting no answer from my Facebook private message asking if I could send a note to the owner, and I still wondered what the right thing to do was. Just leave it be? I mean, I could imagine a new mom running on no sleep doing something stupid in a moment without thinking straight.

Or it could be what it looked like–that a depressed clerk didn’t care and she wasn’t going to put up with any more of this. But I don’t know, and I don’t want to blame nor judge. I don’t want to be mean any more than I want her to be.

We discussed how best to bring it up.

What it came down to, as it had at the first, was, if I were the owner I’d want to know. And as they pointed out, People don’t want to go back after something like that.

Exactly.

Okay, so, I guess that means I will try after all.

But they loved how the afghan they’d helped mentor into existence was coming out, and that and their own projects were more fun to talk about.

Then I came home just in time to watch, from inside, a Cooper’s hawk do a figure eight around the awning poles fifteen feet away in pursuit of dinner and then a loop back around the first pole. Whoosh! And away!



That settled that
Tuesday May 28th 2019, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift

One other thing about yesterday: when we got home after the yarn store/chocolate store/hardware store/electronics store jaunt (he got something out of that trip too, it was only fair), I was trying to figure out the math. Let’s see, I’ve knitted four, have six more, have seven of the new, do I do a fade of so many increasing/decreasing rows of new vs old and try for thirds of old/mixed/new, how many skeins, then, with that middle third going twice as far or using half as many of each but you don’t want it to look like quarters because the eye is pleased with odd numbers…

Richard’s take on it, was, I know how your brain works. You need to put the skeins out and see them. You need to look at them. He knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with it till I did.

He was right, and I dumped the whole shebang on the rug.

Six–there. Seven new–there. I could…

But there was only one way, clearly. Alternate pairs of rows the rest of the way through, ending with a solid last ball of the new in the seed stitch. Nothing else would look as good–even if I didn’t want the hassle of untangling strands from across the work and back for the rest of the project.

I like it. It’s looking good. Hassle? What hassle? What was I worried about? You need to do it to make it right you just do it.



Yarn then chocolate. Priorities.
Monday May 27th 2019, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Knitting a Gift,LYS

Alarm went off, we got up, got ready, got out the door, got onto the main road…

And in a split second of wait, where is everybody, had a good guffaw at ourselves and turned back into the neighborhood. Oops. Yeah we had a nice vacation day Friday but today’s one, too, remember? Not to mention what it was a remembrance for. With real thanks to all those who’ve served and the differences they’ve made.

Not long after that he asked me what I wanted to do with the day, then, now that we had it.

Well, we’d already avoided holiday beach traffic for good reason, so I threw out an in-my-dreams: Imagiknit and Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco.

Was I serious?

Well, actually, yeah, I’d love, but only the purest of love would make him offer to take me to a yarn store, much less one that far away… I’d bought these three extra skeins at Fillory that were just plain too off to feel good trying to mix dye lots with and I’d been trying to reconcile myself to the thought of not only buying more but buying quite a few more. That project devours yardage. And I had to see it in person.

Imagiknit’s website said they had nine. If it didn’t work we could check Cottage on the way back to see if they’d gotten more in stock. So because my husband really is that much of a peach, off we went. And he knows that that’s one yarn store I particularly do not get in and out of quickly even when I’m trying to be good–they have all my favorites. And I so rarely get there.

I spread the afghan-so-far on their counter and the young woman manning the register pronounced, simply, Wow.

That right there made it worth the trip to San Francisco.

The other, gray-haired woman went looking for the last skein but it had apparently been bought while we were on our way there. She sent us to the second room with the stronger lighting to get a better look at the colors, apologized about that missing skein and said that if we call ahead next time they’re happy to reserve… I assured her it was okay.

I had the afghan spread out again and this time Richard took a good look at it.

I’d bought ten? That’s four skeins? That’s not enough! he said decisively (he was right), and urged me to buy all seven they had that matched.

This time, (with the shop’s permission), I took one of theirs outside into the direct sunlight to see if it matched there, too. I’d made that mistake a week ago and I wasn’t going to repeat it.

The one difference, which the older woman pointed out, was that the shop’s was more nearly solid of a color while mine had more little bits where it was lighter here and there.

I could alternate rows.

The purple was the right purple, and what were the chances I’d get that so perfect anywhere else. I bought them.

They had a ball winder and swift set-up but winding the skeins was a do-it-yourself over in their classroom space. Back to the brighter room.

I had memories of friends telling me their ball winder’s gears had been stripped by people who’d cranked it too hard and the wrong way. I was not about to ruin theirs, and I’d kept him long enough; I was ready to just go.

But it was a mechanical thing, and mechanical things are toys to entice and figure out and use and feel great about and my ever-loving sat down with that first skein, got the nod from the woman to make sure he was doing this right, and set to it.

Six skeins later his arm was getting tired and he asked if I’d mind doing the last one. Not at all.

He got to wind the soft wool for his baby granddaughter in happy anticipation of getting to meet her soon, and being able to be participate in that afghan meant a lot to him.

Four hours of knitting later, sun light, artificial light: if I didn’t know where the second dye lot comes in every second row, I wouldn’t know of it at all.



Ella
Sunday May 26th 2019, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Finished the fourth 100g ball of yarn on the afghan last night, put it down, picked up the dusty purple cashmere cowl project I’d gotten from near-zero to half during Friday’s driving and thought, I’d really like that finished for tomorrow if it is in any way possible. 120 stitches a row…

And at 11:00, hands and time demanding an end, I finished the castoff and broke the yarn. Done. It was a good length after all. Gave it a quick rinse and spinning out and set it to dry overnight, wondering who it was for.

The person I thought would pick it went straight to the Rios Anniversario cowl instead.

I was walking out the door, church over, wondering how I’d just walked through all those people and not felt that spark of hey you.

Glanced to the right and walking out the door with me was Ella.

I knitted for her once before: she was four.

I had gone to her widowed great-grandpa’s funeral. She adored him. He was part of her everyday life. He’d driven himself to a game at Stanford to cheer on his team, gotten in his car to come home, had felt the heart attack coming on and had had just enough time and presence of mind to steer away from the car in front of him on that fast busy street and plow into the unoccupied parked ones along the side instead. And he was gone.

Ella held up remarkably quietly through the proceedings for someone who was so small.

Until the moment they started wheeling his casket towards and then out the chapel’s funeral door (so named because it opens extra wide precisely for that reason) at the front of the room.

She leaped onto the bench, reaching with her arms and her whole soul towards what she suddenly seemed to have realized was gone from her forever in this life, crying: NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had this thick, cushy Robin and Russ yarn in my stash…

I overdyed it to her favorite color. It wasn’t as perfectly soft a wool as I would have liked; those were harder to find back then and outside my budget in that particular slice of time–but it was okay, and I knitted her an afghan. Her late great grandma had given me some wool yarn just before she’d passed; this was softer. Ella had had a knitter in her family and I could be her hands for her.

Ella has just finished her first year of college.

I tugged upwards at the dusty purple in my purse, and asked her, suddenly quite sure of the answer, Do you like this color?

I LOVE this color!

It was time she finally got something as soft as she deserved. I didn’t say that. I didn’t want in any way to put down the earlier gift. But man it felt good.

(I just posted this, got up to walk away from the computer, when it finally hit me: the afghan was purple, too. Just little-kid brighter, is all.)



Well, then, something to look forward to
Wednesday May 22nd 2019, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Yesterday was mostly a carry-around-project day, so today was a bit of catch-up on the afghan.

And I’d show you a pretty picture to brag about it, if the computer would just do what I tell it.

(Added in the morning: there you go.)



Knitted till the hands had to stop
Saturday May 18th 2019, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Ten skeins to a bag of hand dyed Malabrigo Rios in Hollyhock, 07 07 07 dye lot, one skein down, four inches. Granted, the non-seed stitch area will take the yardage further, but that’s still going to be well short of what I was shooting for. I was afraid of this and looked for extra skeins at the time but this was all there was of it.

My understanding is that each bag is its own unique dye lot. I’m going to need to go looking for a close match and then alternate rows of the two when I do.

No luck at Fillory, either.

Still, it’s definitely a better problem to have.



At last at last at last. Thank you Carol!!!
Friday May 17th 2019, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,LYS

First, I want to thank those who tried to help me online.

A few days ago I spent an hour carefully knitting–and then ripping back, one loop at a time–a single row, the 279-stitch first pattern row of that baby afghan.

So I thought I’d ask Holly for advice, but we had so much to simply talk about and catch up on in each other’s lives that it just didn’t factor in. It frankly would have felt out of place to interrupt with something so mundane.

Plus I knew I had Friday afternoon as my backup plan. That’s when Carol and Krista would be at Green Planet Yarns/now called Fillory under the new owner. Surely, if anybody…

There was an open seat by Carol. I pulled out the yellow third Barbara Walker treasury and asked if I could ask for help. Sure! (I looked behind me: the little table where the old version of the shop had had a consultant whose time you paid for was gone. I’d never needed that but I would have been happy to on this.)

I told my friend, I have counted this every single way one could and it doesn’t work: you can’t knit a three by three cable with seven stitches!

The gleam in her eye–she knew what she was about to do and how it was about to feel for both of us.

But you can, she told me: you go back and forth past a center stitch.

I looked at the book. “How? You can’t have an odd number between.” I didn’t see anything other than a normal 3×3 crossing. Everything was symmetrical, there was no wobbling from an extra stitch nor from one side not being cabled when the other one was. “You do need that extra stitch further up in the pattern, but not at the bottom. Right? So the count should adjust for that, right?”

She wished for a cable needle. I reached into my purse for one. She took up my knitting and pointed at the book and showed and told:

“See that one square that’s outlined darker on the chart?” (It was at the sides, where the repeat began and ended.) “That’s the center stitch. It doesn’t move.

Now. You put four stitches on the cable needle and put it behind. Not three. You knit the next three stitches from the left needle, as one normally does; then you knit the first stitch on the LEFT side of the cable needle, then the other three right to left like normal. That one stitch stays at the center between the two sides that way.”

I had never heard of nor seen such a thing. Not that it was hard. It had simply never occurred to me.

“And it would make it so you have the right number of stitches for the lacework above that cable.”

“Right!”

Then she had me do it, too, while I only just managed not to grab it right out of her hands to instantly try it the nanosecond she was done explaining.

I felt a great kinship with my old friend Monica, the longtime knitter who almost yelled, That’s IT?!! when I showed her how to do a simple cable and how all cable work was a riff on that.

I had wanted to knit page 146 for–well, I’d had that book for twenty years. Only for the baby on the way had I finally wanted to enough. Only for her had I gotten to where I could, with Carol’s help. It was so easy. I had been so stumped.

“My granddaughter-on-the-way thanks you.”

“Your granddaughter-on-the-way is very welcome. It’s funny how we have gaps in our knowledge,” said Carol happily.

And then, with the help of a great teacher, suddenly we don’t. We don’t at all. We are all filled up and brimming over.



The Cereza on top
Monday May 06th 2019, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

So there was this burgundy-red soft Malabrigo Mecha hat, the carry-around project I’d cast on to have at the eye doctor’s last week so I could do simple knit stitches around and around by feel while my eyes were dilated.

Someone I know through Facebook posted a cri de couer last night while having a particularly hard time of it.

I immediately offered to finish knitting that hat expressly for her. I told her I wanted her to have a warm hug from me, that she mattered and was loved. I took a picture of it in its barely-begun glory, and then a second photo where I put it with three others (yay for all the recent hat-knitting time spent on airplanes) for comparison and asked her to pick her favorite.

Or to name any color and it would be hers.

She said it was one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for her. I wanted to weep and throw my arms around her from across the country.

There is no shame in depression–the truth is that it took great courage and strength to voice it so as not to be defeated by it.

I told her that years ago… That the gift that such an experience leaves us with is that it feels imperative to tell the next person that they are not alone. That they matter. That they are loved. I cannot say those words enough, I can only put them into wool.

I finished that hat this morning and went back to the computer at noon at last to sign in, having asked for her snail mail address. Wondering if she would allow me to have it. Holding my breath a little for her.

There it was.

She liked the hat in the upper left the best.

An hour later, she had its tracking number. Happy anticipation, I hoped: a gift in itself. Even if numbed right now, the memory won’t be.

And the burgundy-red hat waits its turn for its own recipient, ready.



Reds and greens
Saturday April 06th 2019, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

We’re having a Cooper’s hawk sighting nearly every day now. Cool.

Another Red Lion amaryllis from my dad–here, the hawk’s gone now, let me give you a close-up. Love love love these. If you have an amaryllis with four or more leaves it should bloom the next year, too.

The ground is so wet that digging a big deep hole and finally planting the Kishu mandarin I got for Christmas was surprisingly very easy. Like pushing a shovel into Play-dough.

If you live in non-citrus-growing areas and wish for a mandarin orange, plant this one in a pot to keep in or out depending on the weather. The tree is small and the fruit is golf ball sized, soft, seedless, and the peel pretty much falls off and you can just pop the whole thing in your mouth just like that. The fruit doesn’t ship well for grocery stores, you have to grow your own.

It ripens months before my Gold Nugget and thus stretches out the season for us. Not to mention it will create more ground-bird nesting habitat out of what was a bare spot.

Today was a perfect spring day and the Sungold cherry tomato that I planted in 2017 burst into even more blooms. Three years!

Note that it was originally set up inside the largest tomato cage I could buy but by now it’s simply carrying it up and away on its shoulders to wherever and there’s no disentangling the thing, all you can do is admire its Leaning Tower of Pisa impression from inside that happy thicket. (Those few dead leaves are from where the freezes got to the outer edges of the plant but it’s made up for it since.)

And to repeat the Red Lion red theme, while listening to two two-hour sessions of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I got ten repeats done on this cowl; I can get one last one out of this skein and then that’s it.

There will be two more sessions tomorrow, so it is time to pick the next project. Baby girl afghan is what I want to do, but I don’t think I have quite the yarn I want for it yet.