A new start
Friday February 11th 2022, 9:11 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

It’s February. It hit 80F.  This is not normal. The air conditioning kicked on. I realized I had done repeats of 13, not 14 on the hat project and it was totally not working and after wishing for about two seconds for it to be something other than what it was, I started the ripping back, unwinding the tangling intarsia work slowly, slowly. I knew better and yet I’d done it wrong anyway. All I’d needed was to be a little less sure of myself and doublecheck. Well, okay, now I have.

But then seeing the first three peach flowers of the year opening up by evening and all the buds ready to pop where there had been nothing but gray dormancy a few days ago was just so joyful that it made up for everything, and I can’t wait to see how that tree looks tomorrow.

And the next tree. And the next one.

I chased away a squirrel that wanted to snack on the little pinknesses. Some things never change.


I mean, they’re pretty, but
Wednesday February 09th 2022, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

(Found the second color I was looking for, found the needles, and most importantly, the brain cleared from those falls to remember how I did it, so Emily’s replacement hat can finally begin.)

Warning: the rest of this post is a Get Off My Lawn.

I was googling to make sure I was understanding a particular architectural term correctly: floating. Because it was being applied to something that I didn’t think was, in order for the realtor’s listing to sound fancy.

Personally, I would say the correct word for this type of staircase has more to do with a direction and an article of clothing men don’t wear save with bagpipes in hand and kilt hose, myself. Do these bother other people?

Taking it further, I don’t know if it’s still there since they did some remodeling a few years ago, but we were invited to the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco with my folks by my cousin when they were in town and it was new.

The floor of the top floor was glass–if I remember right, in alternating stripes of opaque and clear. But what about earthquakes?! All that potential falling glass not to mention people. Wearing a skirt and looking down at the crowds below looking up, I emphatically did not linger. I did not wish to be Exhibit A. I did not want to be reminded of fourth and fifth grade when all the girls learned to layer up with shorts under their skirts in defense against those boys whose behavior was not corrected by the teachers nor staff.

I most certainly had opinions on what the gender of that architect had to be. I’m sure it just never occurred to him.

Or worse, it did.

I’ve been to the post-earthquake DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park since then, but not that one.

Emily’s turn
Sunday February 06th 2022, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Family,Knitting a Gift,Life

The sunlight only had a few minutes left and I excused myself from my knitting group Zoom a moment to step outside to cover the mango tree to hold in the warmth from the incandescent Christmas lights; it was 34F this morning, and since I had had it professionally pruned on Friday, I could only assume the cuts would make it a little more vulnerable right now. If it freezes it dies.

I always try to do that really carefully because those covers are big, it’s an awkward process, and it’s easy to trip on them. Not to mention I have no sense of balance.

I was not remembering that I must never be distracted nor in a hurry at this.

I found where my shoe had ended up as I took the measure of the outcome. Nothing seemed broken. Fingers unhappy. The rest will let me know (and it’s starting to.) I found myself unexpectedly a bit dizzy. Having fallen four days ago tripping over a box at the front door, one big toe was going, Are you kidding me. Again?

I came back inside and found myself suddenly short of breath as I was turning the camera back on to my friends. I didn’t say anything to them and in fact kept knitting the plain beanie I was working on thank you left hand but I did confess to my family after it was over.

I got me a loving but stern talking-to from both of them. I got lectured on the value of me vs the tree. I got told to be careful. (I know, I know.)

Tonight’s the coldest night in the forecast for the next ten days, and things should be warming up from there so hopefully we’re done dealing with this for the season.

And then.

I got a wonderful note back from my niece re the afghan I’d just finished for her daughter whom she’d given my name as her middle name: she is thrilled, it is gorgeous, and by airplane or mail, by whatever means they will all be very very happy when it comes.

She, hesitating and unsure in the asking, had one request, though: I had once knit her a hat and she had loved it very much. She didn’t quite want to say it but her mom/my sister had encouraged her and said she should, and–would it be possible I could knit her another one like that? Because it had been just so perfect and it had meant a lot to her. She had checked the Lost and Founds everywhere. It was distinctive, but no, they hadn’t seen it.

Her email yanked me right out of my self-pity and straight into happy anticipation at such an easy way to make her world right again. I’d needed that. The afghan needs the security of arrival by air by me after Omicron gets out of here, but seventy stitches’ and about fifty rows’ worth of a hat: that, I’d be willing to trust the post office with.

My left hand might want to wait a day or two to start.

But not if I have any say in it.

Friday February 04th 2022, 6:36 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

Morning light somehow captures the color best so far.

For my own notes: two strands of dk Cashwool in Mulberry (sold out) from Colourmart, two 900 gram cones with 208 and 162g remaining but that includes 32 grams for the plastic cones they’re wound onto, size 8 needles, 239 stitches per row and could have been wider but with lots of sideways stretch it will definitely do.


I did it my way
Tuesday February 01st 2022, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Finally, finally, and with some reluctance, I finished the last pattern row tonight. All that’s left is the ribbing across the top.

On November 23, I opened my yellow Barbara Walker charted treasury copy wide enough to photocopy page 146 to start this afghan. I only made one copy. Given the stress on the paperback’s binding and how I didn’t want to do that again, that was dumb.

So in all that time I’ve been keeping pairs of post-it notes to underline which row I was working from to keep my eyes and brain from skittering all over the page and losing their place from stitch to individual stitch. The stickum wears off, you put on two more side by side to cover the width of the written row, repeat, repeat, later join Wordle (yesterday!) and use the used-up ones for sketching quick notes on.

As for the pattern, that piece of paper is looking pretty ratty at this point. But better it than my book.

The brightness of nighttime lighting reflecting off the whiteness of the page made it hard to see the stitches and I was forever pushing it up a bit out of the way and having it slide back down to my lap. I was so close to not needing it–but with the complexity of that piece and the parts that are counter-intuitive I didn’t dare risk it.

Ribbing. It really only needs that ribbing. It’s kind of hard to believe.

Finally, finally, the thing let me get a better picture of the color as a going-away present.

And in all that time I never realized till I went to look up the page number for this post just now (since it didn’t print out on the xerox) that it was supposed to be garter stitch separating the undulating waves. I’d done all of that purl-side out. All of it. All that time I’d stared at all those little dots and x’s and slanting lines and the like, easily a hundred hours, I’d had no idea I was being a rebel.

Well, good, then, because I like it better this way.

Sunday January 30th 2022, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Food,Knitting a Gift

Applesauce Honey cake at Spruce Eats is the winner so far. Cocoa in boiling water substituted for the coffee.

The afghan: if I stop at the last row of the pattern, #40, then the top and the bottom won’t mirror. As written, it starts with pairs of cables and ends just before the cabling, because of course when you’re repeating over and over, but not so much when you’re coming to a stop. So I’m thinking I’ll end after a pair of cables and half a motif, meaning, row #32. Or #12 on a ninth repeat, which I have just enough yarn for.

My niece and her husband are both tall. Right now it’s 64″ unblocked with 5.5″ to go if I stop at #32 once you factor in the ribbing.

Which I really really want to do right now, but having gotten this far, if I need to go on I’ll go on and my rule of thumb is to match the person’s height so it can cover their feet. No skimping. Plus it came out a little narrower than I wanted at 48″, but with a lot of sideways stretch so no problem–except that that pulls the length downwards quite a bit.

And on a side note: it occurred to me today that I could go into the local paint store, buy a paint chip that matches it, and send that off to ask if they all like the color without giving away what’s up.

Because they would never, ever suspect me of knitting. Right?

So close
Thursday January 27th 2022, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I started the afghan Nov. 23d. It’s gorgeous, it’s a quarter of the way through the eighth and last long repeat, it’s almost done.

So why has it slowed down so much? I’ve been trying to figure it out. Is it because I just enjoy too much having this thing draped down past my feet as I work while it sweet-talks my ego? Because there are a whole lot more useful things it could be doing once done and I could be doing by now, like, getting on to the next blanket for the recipient after that.

Silly person. Now get back to work. (Actually, two months isn’t too bad.)

10,307 stitches to go. Not that I’m counting.

Fourteen times 239 times two
Friday January 14th 2022, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Two days in a row of 3,346 little white boxes with a dot, an x, a slant / or a slant \ or a V or the like as my eyes move across the chart and my hands around the needles, count one two three, or seven, or seventeen. Starting in the morning, taking rest breaks, continuing on till the brain rebels: any other color! Any other thing to look at! Read words not symbols! You’ve already iced your hands once today, stop!

And so with those 6,692 stitches done I have 21,510 left to go, along with 2,390 of the final edging.

My brain is a busload right now of middle school kids taking a long ride to a field trip destination that the chaperones knew they’d signed up for for the good of the kids and so now they just have to put up with their singing, 23,900 bottles of beer on the wall, 23,900 bottles of beer! Take a stitch down, wrap wool around, 22,899 bottles of beer on the wall!

Yeah when it gets to that point you know it’s time to park the bus and call it a day.

Already a warm blanket on a chilly day
Tuesday January 11th 2022, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

I love the texture of this, even if the cabling slows it down somewhat. It also makes the blanket denser and warmer: it takes, on average, about a third more yarn to make, say, a cabled Irish-type sweater than a plain, flat one–and that is why cheaper versions tend to leave the back boring straight-up stockinette stitch.


Seven repeats across plus the edging; the fifth 40-row vertical repeat is nearly done.

I had planned to do seven but may have enough yarn for eight.

And I wonder: why is it always easier to put more hours of a day into a project as it gets further along than at the beginning? Four and a half rows make an inch no matter where that inch is.

Actually, that’s not entirely true: as you add more wool and more weight, it seems to take more like four rows to get that inch to appear.

Row’ll on with the years and never stand still
Sunday January 02nd 2022, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

To be on the safe side because we were exposed to other people yesterday, we didn’t expose more other people to us today: we did church by Zoom.

Which means that during Sunday School I turned my camera off and picked up my needles that had ribbing and a few plain rows and made surprisingly good headway on the next random hat (thinking, and this is why I have a Malabrigo Mecha stash.) I did a bit more afterwards.

Then at 5 p.m. I had a knitting group by Zoom, and brainless patterns are definitely what you want while conversations are going on and you’re trying to read the captions–even when your heart is on that complicated lace-and-cables over there.

And so yet another plain beanie arrives in the world, needing the ends run in but otherwise ready to go. To… I’ll have to find out. But we woke up to 29F and deep frost this morning and someone out there badly needs some soft warmth on their head.

This Sunday hat thing could get to be a pattern.

What it was all about in the first place
Thursday December 30th 2021, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

After a day of distractions and things that got done that needed to but that were not knitting, I finally sat down and got a few long rows in on that afghan.

And was surprised at how joyful it felt. Any sense of work or long slog still to go or any of that just fell away and all that was left was, this is beautiful and she’s going to love it so much. So much. I can’t wait.

How now brown cow?
Thursday December 09th 2021, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life,Lupus

It was the last of that jug of milk–it tasted off. I tossed it out, sorry I’d swallowed a swallow and hoping I wouldn’t get sick from it; at least it had been early in that process. I opened a new one.

It was the same.

I wondered if it was the brand/the cow/the feed or what and did those two come from the same place?

Today was the same, only something else tasted not quite how I expected and it hit me with a clue-by-four.

Propafenone HCL side effects, I googled, not sure I wanted to, sure I would find out things I didn’t want to know but I’m one who has to know anyway, so, yeah.

Black box warning? Not my first such. No grapefruit with it? I am definitely not going to cry, although I will miss lime added to things because lime has a lesser amount of the same substance in grapefruit that interacts with various meds. Oh wait that probably means I can’t try my ripening tiny Page tangerines: they’re a quarter grapefruit.

But what I also read is that for people with structural heart damage, the drug is more dangerous, and for people with supraventricular tachycardia, it seems to be definitely less so–and starting it early on in the disease before the muscle weakens is a good thing. (Ya think?) This is all according to Dr. Google, so take it with however much salt you like in your dish.

I had not realized how often how off the beaten track my heart had started to be. The improvement is a welcome relief.

Oh, and, re the knitting: does this kind of sort of look like a spinning dreidel to anyone else?

Seven and a half left
Tuesday November 30th 2021, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Called that one right.

The guy who chose the bright purple hat was the only one who was not here yesterday, but then the only one who was today. So I got a chance to ask him in private: did you pick that color to make someone else happy? And can I have you pick one for you?

His daughter, yes, and, YES!

So he got the Prussian Blue that had just come off my needles (bypassing its camera moment altogether.) I told him, Now to be fair, the others need to pick one for someone they love, too, and his face lit up in happy anticipation for their sakes as he told me he’d let them know.


Winding up, winding down
Monday November 29th 2021, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

This hat is now done, a dark blue one after it nearly so, there’s a multiple-browns skein waiting that needs to stop being in a hank so I can get to it next and the crew again got to watch me working away as they did, too.

The damaged board is gone, so are the telescoping metal temporary-support poles, and my awning is back in one piece looking brand new because some of it is.

But the one who’d chosen a hat in a color so as to put someone else above himself was not there today so no surprise round two happened. It may yet; I hope so, but if not I’ll be grateful for the incentive to get those done wherever they may end up.

The wood of the new siding is not down flush against the patio like the old was, and the guy went over with me all the other ways they had protected that part of the house from future rain (as I tried not to think how the original contractor should have done every bit of that.)

After four weeks, the trailer was full, the cover was pulled across the top for roadworthiness, it was hitched up to the pickup, and off it went towards the dump at long last.

The house looks so, so much better.

Still waiting on the new windows. Still waiting for the skylights to arrive. Still waiting for the exterior painting. Still, someday, the kitchen do-over and the 27-year-old vinyl floors and the driveway….

Still waiting for the new roof to happen.

Still waiting for the rain.

But it’s a start. We got a great start.

Worker beanies
Wednesday November 24th 2021, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

Today, with Thanksgiving tomorrow, seemed a good time. Especially with one of them looking up at all the changes and saying with great satisfaction that our house was almost done.

But suddenly the two who were there most of the day and have done most of the work were heading from the back yard towards their cars, so on the other side of the house I stepped out the front door and after the one I could see from there.

He’s the one who shows up the earliest and often leaves last, determined to get more done.

Turns out they weren’t leaving yet, they were just putting a few things away, but what did I know. So let’s give them more to put away.

Romero’s face lit up, surprised, as I repeated my offer, holding out a ziplock crammed with colors. Whichever hat you would like.

He immediately went for the foggy blue-gray while telling me why. “I watched you make it!” (As I thought, Ah, I must have been working on that one while you were removing the nearby part of the awning. That sounds right.)

At that Armando stepped into view over by his car and I went oh there you are! and offered him his choice. He chose a fairly bright purple, and I never would have guessed that. Romero had followed me over towards his friend and put his blue-gray one on, showing off with the biggest smile.

The third guy, who has spent less time here, arrived a bit later and chose the Jupiter red. Armando, waving from the roof at that point, teased me that he’d like to pick one out too and I laughed.

It wasn’t till after they’d all left that the obvious hit me that his immediate reaction to my offer had probably been to pick one for his wife or his daughter he’s told me a little about, and that what he was really saying was, actually, he’d like to have one, too.

I can be slow at the wrong moments.

I’ll ask on Monday when they come back–if, but only if, I have an extra by then for all of them, so maybe that’s why I’d needed to be lagging on the uptake back there.

Said the woman who just dove into a new afghan project because I seem to be on a roll with those and even with the slow-going ribbing edging it’s already past 4″.