With love from Chateaux du chapeau
Sunday February 05th 2023, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift

I couldn’t just sneak a new one for it because it had been worn too much for me to get away with that.

At eleven, he was bicycling over to my house during Christmas break to cover and uncover the baby mango tree night and morning while we were out of town. He protested that I was paying him too much (I wasn’t) and got one of the first mangoes ever to come off that tree.

Two years ago? I think? I knit him a hat, to his great delight, in the oft-repeated Malabrigo Mecha in Teal Feather, as soft a wool as you could ask for and washable.

Two weeks ago at church his mother asked me if I could repair it.

I’m guessing he didn’t want me to think he didn’t take good care of it. But it’s okay. Things happen.

Last week I showed them a bag I’d found of all the little balls of leftover Mecha in that color: I had saved them for future hat stripes but really just in case of an emergency like this. I asked them to help me find the best match because my cataracts mess with my perception of blues.

They decided the mom could do this and took the bag home, while I was left thinking, but I wasn’t trying to put that on you!

This morning the young man himself came over, pointed to the darkest mini ball in the center of the bag, and said decisively, We think that one.

The hat was back in the bag.

I was delighted–I’d really wanted to do that for them and had been a little sorry at the misunderstanding. I knew it would be a much easier task for me than her.

Got home from church, and thought, Do not get distracted. You know they’re waiting. You know he had to wait this extra week during a cold snap to get his clearly loved hat back–do it now.

So I sat down with it.

Oh. This wasn’t just the cast-on end working loose, now that I looked closely, that yarn was torn. (Their cat maybe?) This was going to be more than I thought. Okay, that and that are the torn ends and there, in between, it no longer has its cast-on-row stitch. Hmm.

The dad is the grandson of Ukrainian refugees. I told them later, The irony is that what I did is called the Russian join: I took the new yarn (leaving a dangly end) and ran it through the interior of the broken yarn to catch it and hold it in place.

(I didn’t bother them with the detail that the full term is the Russian spit-splice–they didn’t need that visual in his clothing.)

I reworked a few more stitches on the wrong side to try to really tack down those random fibers, and then I ran the two ends up the edges of the purls in the ribbing. I could do it pulled tight so that it looked good–tried it, went nope–or looser so it felt good. Definitely looser. As you can see, but won’t when he wears it with the brim down.

The kicker is that where the yarn had broken was in one of the lightest spots because the dye hadn’t fully penetrated the yarn. But I think, yes I do think, it came out quite okay.

I emailed the parents to ask when I should bring the hat by and my doorbell rang so fast before I even got around to looking up their phone numbers. Mom, dad, son: they all wanted to be there to see it come back to life.

I said to Eli as they leaving, Thank you: that hat is clearly well loved and worn and I never know if people actually use them. You made me so happy. Thank you!

It made his day and he walked down my walkway after his parents with the biggest smile on his face.

That, I tell you, is a young college-bound man who is knit-worthy. His parents raised him well.

Belly button knitting
Sunday January 29th 2023, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

More green than this, but, yet another Malabrigo Mecha Teal Feather hat to have at the ready once I get those ends run in.

I think I have a single skein of Mecha left–there needs to be a yarn store run this week because what else would I use for the fidget-spinner projects where you don’t even have to look at your hands to keep going and going and going while actually producing something someone will love.

Questions to throw out there: does anyone else tighten up their stitches more and more the further into the decreasing it gets? It’s so easy to accidentally leave a gaping stitch as you switch back and forth between the needles after changing from the one circular to the Venn-diagram effect from using two.

Does anybody use the long-tail cast-on end as you go up to mark the beginnings of the rows? Moving it only a few times as it gets ridiculously far back there, in my case. I kind of had a hanging umbilical cord and belly button there before I pulled it out to take the picture.

Got the car all done
Tuesday January 03rd 2023, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Should I take the unwieldy afghan that would get on the floor of the garage?

That’s a question I can’t answer, he responded, reasonably.

So, I finally decided, I guess the boring usual, then. Lucky me, there was one skein of Mecha that was already wound up. A dark teal green.

Which got me thinking.

I don’t spend a lot of time in waiting rooms these days, but sometimes, and so somehow I did, I had three plain Malabrigo beanies sitting waiting to find out whose they were supposed to be.

I checked their website. The three of them had been running the garage since the original guy who’d opened it in 1952.

It’s not in walking distance and I had no ride so I was just going to sit and wait while they worked on the car. I could call Enterprise Car Rental if it came to that; they pick you up.

Oh–are you waiting? she asked me. (For so long they didn’t let you; now they’ll let one person under the relaxed covid protocols.)

They got right to it, then.

I pulled out my needles and cast on.

I did the nine rows of ribbing on the usual 70 stitches of Mecha.

Someone else popped in to give his key and say his car was here.

I kept knitting.

I did some of the solid area above the brim, and at about 90 minutes in the mechanic stepped into the office area, glanced over at my knitting a moment, and said my car was done.

And then he shook his head with her a moment talking about the 24 year old Buffalo Bills football player who’d dropped on the field in cardiac arrest–so young, so young. In the ICU. But it was like that basketball player, he said.

Len Bias, I piped up to his surprise.

Either there were two basketball players or he didn’t remember that name; it’s been a long time.

He went back to work on the next car.

Len Bias was in Maryland, I told her, and I’m from Maryland.

Ah, she said, and rang up my bill.

While wearing a shirt and jacket in the very colors of the feminine one of those hats. The other two were in Vaa and Solis, darker green on the gray side and the other a bit brighter. I was knitting teal green. I was wearing two layers of green sweaters. Tuesday’s for the color green, today.

Two guys back there? I asked, just to confirm.

Two guys back there, she confirmed.

Having waited for my bill to be finished so it couldn’t affect it in any way, I pulled out the three hats and thanked her very much.

She’d just seen me making one of those. She instantly knew I’d made those. Her jaw dropped, and then she hurried to go share as I waved goodbye and headed out the door without even asking if they liked green.

The guy who’d worked on my car hurried out the big garage door to catch a glimpse in time but I was on my way.

I drove off feeling like, where have I been? Man, that felt good. Do it some more. You’ve got some catching up to do, hon.

Almost halfway
Thursday November 17th 2022, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

This was one and a half repeats last Friday.

I just broke out the icepacks again.

In a warm house
Tuesday November 15th 2022, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift

If I do a full repeat every day, I’ve been telling myself, I’ll have it done before the wedding.

Fully aware that if they do come to their cousin’s wedding, too, their luggage will be weighed down with baby gear while they’ll be wrangling a one-year-old and the last thing they’ll need is to have to stuff a whole blanket in. I should ship it.

But one takes the motivation and the deadline one has. So far, they know nothing about it.

I was pretty proud of myself for how much I’ve gotten done the last four days–it just had to get past that point where the bottom curls up against your hands like a toddler grabbing your legs and whining when you know all they need is a meal and a nap.

Today I did the most of all. Momentum and all that. I finally decided, okay, give the hands a break, put it down, you want to be able to do this tomorrow. Pace it.

That was when I looked to my left and saw what had been quietly waiting all day for me to notice. I don’t know how many times I’d walked right past it.

I had moved the bag just yesterday and there were a bunch of I thought roots: y’know, I really need to plant those…

That’s no root. All that (matching lavender!) color happened today. I almost missed it. I almost missed discovering how divine saffron crocus flowers smell.

I will need to remove those bulbs very carefully from that bag.

Tomorrow. It’s way too cold out there right now.


Feels weird to have it all done and not have it to do anymore
Sunday October 02nd 2022, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Well huh. Colourmart’s cardboard cones are supposed to weigh 36 grams. I think I have enough yarn left over that I could have done one row more if I’d been willing to risk it, but I wasn’t. I did have another cone but I couldn’t absolutely guarantee the match on the color.

Then I weighed the cone out of curiosity to see how close I’d come.

The scale said 32.

The next step is to scour it in hot water to get the mill oils out. It will bloom and fill out and look prettier and brighten up and lay flatter and once that silicon coating is gone, it will be so very very soft.

It’s not perfect but you know what? I like it.

So close
Saturday October 01st 2022, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

57×45″. It is amazing how much progress you can make when you’re sitting for two-hour stints watching LDS General Conference, and Sunday, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Pacific, I get to again–and will clearly finish it, assuming my hands hold up.

The middle tree’s a bit distorted here. There’s a raptor needing one more row to the left above it.

I really, really want a decent daytime photo.

50/50 cashmere/cotton. I have roughly 40 grams left of the original 900 on the cone and I think I’ll make it without having to use any of the next one.

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

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

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

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

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

I had, as it turned out, enough time on the plane and enough yarn on the first of my two balls (I think it was shade 3251 there) to do two last repeats and that was all it needed.

The plane did some descending. I was casting off.

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

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

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

I told myself, don’t be dumb: don’t save the ball band for some possible future project and recipient when you have one right in front of you that you won’t have time to say a word to about anything. It says hand wash only as well as what it’s made of and she needs to have that information and I don’t have pen nor paper. So I did, I took the band from the one and wrapped it around the new cowl by way of introducing her to it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right now they’re on the fourth.

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

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

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

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

I’m going to hold them to that.

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

It’s getting there.

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

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

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

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

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

The man’s mom and grandmother came.

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

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

Now they do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe as high as a redwood!

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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