Better yet, take Mom with me
Monday January 10th 2022, 11:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,History,Knit,LYS

Early on in this whole pandemic thing, when everything had been on lockdown and particularly so in our area, the county north of us decided that a customer could buy something online and the shopkeeper could hand it to them outside now. You could have that close a contact, briefly. Youcouldn’t browse, you couldn’t go in, you couldn’t touch their credit card machine, but you could do that.

This is when they were still trying to figure out the details of how covid-19 is spread.

I talked to one of my local shops, saying that what I wanted was two bags of a particular blue Malabrigo Rios that matched so that I would have enough for an afghan. I knew that officially it’s ten skeins per bag equals one dye lot; rumor, though, is that they’re matched up in groups of ten but that the mill produces more than that in each lot. But that’s a rumor.

So.

I wanted twenty skeins. I’ve found matching bags in the past, but I wasn’t going to be able to go in and eyeball anything.

Turns out the whole supply-chain mess meant the shop didn’t have and couldn’t get them in from Malabrigo for months.

But maybe her yarn rep had them on hand, she wondered.

Turns out she did.

Once those were delivered, I swung by the shop, they handed me the bags out on the sidewalk rather than frisbeeing them from, y’know, six social feet away through the car windows and all that and it was so good to see actual human faces again, not to mention old friends.

(Unspoken: Still here. Still here. And you too! Stay that way. Thank you for wearing those masks. Pray those vaccine researchers get their studies finished fast.)

I waited till I got home to see if my initial quick impression was correct. It was.

She’d been so relieved that the two bags matched like her rep had been sure of.

Now, here I interject a quick story about my folks visiting the dye works for a tapestry weaver in France at a time when they decided they needed just a bit more of this one color for their project, so the dyer was asked to create more.

He asked Mom if this and this matched.

She said no, not quite, and why. But no, sorry.

He hadn’t thought it was discernible but since clearly it was, he added just a touch more to the pot. There you go.

So blame it on the genetics. Here I was, staring at those blues, going, but they’re just not quite the same. This one’s more vibrant. This one’s darker. You can put them in all kinds of different lights and it doesn’t change the fact. It’s certainly not a huge difference, but…

So instead of becoming the next big project they’ve sat there for all this time because I can’t use them together unless I separate them by enough other colors and space that the difference might not matter, in which case I would no longer need twenty skeins of Matisse blue because half of the afghan would be something else altogether. Which has had me wondering if I should ask my friends who do diving and photography if they have a particular reef photo I could use, to riff on last year’s fish theme.

I’ve been musing about trying to match the one or the other, but I don’t know if inventories are back up yet.

Here, let me finish this other project first before I worry about it too much.

I just like to know what’s ahead.



Brake for the cone
Sunday January 09th 2022, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit

I was in a knitting group meeting by Zoom today where they asked everybody, What is the yarn that you’ve been hoarding and not knitting that you most love?

I told them that Colourmart had some heavy laceweight 150g 98/2 extra fine merino/vicuna yarn that was really nice stuff, but that every now and then–twice that I know of–they’d popped up a few cones of some with 7% vicuna content. It’s cobweb weight but it sells out fast.

So, having knit two 7% cowls, one for me and one for a friend and swooning at every stitch–nice stuff!–I’d been stalking the site to see if any more showed up, y’know, like during an inventory check or something. For months. (This is after I’d plied it on my wheel and sworn I’d never do that part again–I should have paid the five bucks for them to do that on their machinery. Cobweb weight is super fiddly to get right when you can’t see what you’re doing because it’s black and my spinning was wonky, although in the finished cowls, who could tell. Or care. So soft!)

Suddenly one day there was this one single cone of not seven but 10%, and not only 10% but it was blended with extrafine cashmere. No sheep.

I ticked the ply box and picked a number: twelve strands, the maximum, for a thicker yarn to work with. $55 total for 5.29 mill-end ounces, when pure vicuna retails for $300/ounce.

As one of my friends described it later, I bought it so fast I showed speed streaks.

It’s black, of course, which my eyes would rather knit later rather than now, but the thing that’s actually holding me back is that there’s only the one cone. When it’s gone there may never be another. How would I risk letting anyone feel left out of receiving the one best thing, and how on earth would I choose who should get it?



It will be an inside job
Friday December 24th 2021, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I was kvetching at myself for not getting anything done on the afghan all week.

It somehow snuck up on me that, wait–actually, I finished a hat this week, knit another, started a third, and stumbled across a half-done beaded silk cowl and finished that, too, because it was Christmas week and you never know when you’re going to need extras. (Suddenly thinking, y’know, if I’d knit those hats in stainless steel yarn I could have added an inside pompom for a clapper and made my own carol bells. Cool! Watch out next year!)

A very Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and peace and good will and beautiful music to everyone.

With thanks to Margo Lynn for the heads-up, this is really cool.



When teeth work better than pruning shears
Thursday December 23rd 2021, 8:36 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

A Shaun the Sheep ad for wool, just for fun and so I can find it again.

Remember when I named a lace pattern (after not finding it anywhere else) Rabbit Tracks? Search engines having had their limitations in 2003, I looked for pictures of actual tracks made by rabbits to see if it fit and found no definitive answer–drawings in children’s books didn’t count–so I just went with it.

Well, I got a little help today after looking a little closer at the lace pattern certain claws and teeth were making in the mud out there. Again, it wasn’t quite definitive but it looked like a decent approximation. Alright then.

My yard looks like it has chicken pox and I’ve never seen anything quite like it out there.

So I had this post hopping around in my head gathering momentum about how I guess the whole rabbit thing is okay because they’re eating the weeds that I’ve been trying to fight off ever since the first time they told us not to water our lawns for the previous drought. The grass died. The weeds held a rave.

Worse: a few years ago, my neighbors planted an invasive but decorative tall grass that grows in impenetrable clumps with a bajillion poofy seeds that fly off like dandelion puffs, and all the sudden last summer it was everywhere in my back yard. Everywhere. Despite zero watering. The roots go deep and I found out the hard way that the stalks rip your skin off if you don’t wear gloves and when they’re growing under the thorns of the low-branching pomegranate tree and threatening to outcompete its roots, I had me some doubt as to how far this was all going to go.

Apparently, non-native flora or not, those rabbits really go after the stuff.

And the grass, our grass, real grass, is actually starting to make a comeback because the critters don’t touch it.

I was thinking, hey, I can live with that, as movement caught my eye and I looked across the yard.

A third one.

All in view, point A, point B, point C.

Three. And spring is a long way off yet.

Yow.

Well, they’d better get back to work, then, those shoots aren’t going to get any younger nor more tender. (LEAVE MY FRUIT TREES ALONE.)



Not mumbling
Friday December 10th 2021, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

High-frequency hearing loss is by far the most common type. And what it means is that you lose pieces of words, because consonants are done tongue against teeth and at much higher pitches than vowels’ vibrations in the throat.

So you hear the song of someone’s voice but not the lyrics, and more so the more background sound you add. This is one reason why the hearing impaired are good at picking up other people’s moods rather than what is being said. A crowd is an orchestra warming up. (For Bartok’s Etudes at times.)

I remember sitting on my brother’s bed when we were teens while he played some of his music collection and worked through with me what Elton John was actually singing. And then a song from the next artist and the next but one can only do that for so long in a day.

Now the words are all out there for the reading, and I have to admit I’ve had some serious disappointments on some really beautiful music. Not to mention it’s a pain to have to go look up my earworms before humming them out loud because you never know what they might mean to someone else who can actually, y’know, hear. Being a deaf musician has drawbacks.

So.

There’s been a crew of five prepping and painting our house all week. The kid across the street 35 years ago who bought a paint sprayer to set himself up in business and got our former owner to hire him to douse the house really quick? Uh, no: these guys power wash, scrape, scrape some more, primer, paint, second coat of paint. By hand. And it looks fabulous where they’re finished.

One guy out there in particular is quick to laugh, quick to sing, and occasionally whistles. Now, I wouldn’t know what he was singing anyway and I don’t think it was in English and as I sat there knitting away, singing being a compelling thing, I had visions of adding in a tune or two myself.

In French. Because then the words would be as nonexistent for them as any in English or Spanish might be for me and we’d just meet at the purity of where the tune carries us. Right?

Except the only French song I can remember the lyrics to are–I apologize in advance–Frere Jacque.

Think Chopsticks on the piano.

How about I not.



I may have picked that up along the way
Saturday November 27th 2021, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Knit,LYS

(The colors are better than my phone claims.)

I finished another hat for the work crew; I’ll run the ends in when they’re here so they can feel like they got to see part of that one happening, too. Man, it feels good. And I did get to Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco and stocked up on guy colors and started in on the next.

The skein that’s still in the hank is the one that arrived as expected from Imagiknit, along with the usual business card.

But the other side of it is no longer blank.

Imagiknit got bought out this past summer by one of its former employees, and one can only wonder in astonishment at what some customer must have said to elicit this.

And then I laughed, hard, thinking who this got sent to, because, yeah.

 



Oh any day’ll do
Friday November 26th 2021, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Knit

Imagiknit let me know my Pocion Mecha yarn is on its way. I bought a single skein to leave the possibility open of getting to a LYS tomorrow and picking out more hat yarn in person but I wanted to know that that colorway would be here before the workers return, and tomorrow it should be.

On a random note of practicality: I read somewhere that the best way to freeze unused sourdough starter is to spread it out on parchment paper and then as soon as it’s frozen, crumble it into a small freezer container, giving it an easily-accessible form for later. So I just did that, wondering if it would pour out all over the place but it didn’t and finagling the parchment into the freezer space contained the starter, so, cool.

And randomness for its own sake: the Washington Post offers its subscribers a scanned-in shot of what the front page was the day (please fill in this form thank you) one was born.

Okay, I figured that was just trolling for data, but still, I was curious.

Below the fold, there was a story of a judge who’d had twenty young azalea bushes stolen from his yard while he was having a weekend at the beach, carefully spaded out of there.

It lists his home address, notes his tony neighborhood and the prices of the houses, and says the thieves even got the ones behind his ten foot fence.

Who on earth is allowed to have a ten foot fence?

His neighbors were hit that same weekend, and they, too, were at the beach. Their roses too were left untouched.

A truck was pulled over near that street with a hundred azaleas in back, and the authorities were requiring the driver to offer proof of having purchased them.

Okay, today, that would mean the newspaper doxxed a prominent judge–on the front page, no less.

The kicker is that the date on that newspaper? I was a crawling baby aspiring to walk. So per them, I was, in fact, born yesterday. And more than.

Edited to add: since I wrote that they have corrected the link.



Theron
Sunday November 21st 2021, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

A friend’s mention of a concert she sang in years ago sparks this memory.

When my kids were growing up, the middle school had a fantastic music teacher: Tim loved the kids and he loved the music and everybody wanted to be in his class. Rumor was, though, that the program pretty much dead-ended when you graduated.

Fortunately for us, my oldest started high school the year they hired Theron. Theron was a master teacher himself, and suddenly the band and orchestra room was the place to be–our kids were in great hands.

I think it was his third year there that Theron, tall and thin, was found to have a 15 lb. stomach tumor.

This was in the bad old days before the ACA: you had to keep going to work to keep your insurance to cover your treatments when you got sick no matter how sick you got.

I knitted him a handspun afghan in a Tree of Life design from wool my folks had bought me for Christmas that year after I’d found a one-time source for a merino lambswool that was finer than cashmere and fur-like in its softness. Memory wants to put it at 14 microns. It just felt like it was meant to be for him.

The other teachers in the district donated their sick leave to save their colleague’s not just insurance but his very life.

But someone still had to teach that jazz class. Someone still had to lead the high school marching band. Tim drove over from the other school to fill in. He knew the kids already knew him and that it would be a comfort to them as well as him in being a familiar face while doing what he could for his friend.

Theron recovered and for awhile it looked like they were right when they said they got it all.

He was there for Back To School night–but I knew. As I said to him later, I don’t think anyone noticed who’s only always been healthy. But to my eyes, he wasn’t just leaning on the music stand because it had been a long day, his face and his body gave him away.

He was on sick leave again almost immediately. He was 35.

At his funeral there were pictures of his life that were a surprise to me but not to some of the kids, even though Theron had never spoken about being gay. His family sat on the right at the front of the chapel, shooting angry glances to the left half in the direction of his partner and friends.

I found that unspeakably sad for all of them. I did not get a chance to introduce myself to them–it felt to me like they didn’t want to talk to anybody they didn’t know.

But I did afterward to the grieving man who did not deserve that extra hurt.

He realized that I was the one who had made that afghan.

In his grief he comforted me by making a point of telling me that Theron had requested that afghan be kept right there on the bed with him at all times his last week on this earth.

He had wanted me to know.

Tim stepped into the high school job altogether and working with the vocal teacher had the choir and orchestra learn Mozart’s Requiem for their joint December concert.

The final piece was If Thou Be Near.

The kids poured their love, their grief, and all that they had into those perfect notes and I found myself in tears. It was one of the most powerful musical experiences of my life.

I caught Tim afterwards and thanked him for teaching our kids, thanked him for choosing that music.

And, I said, he was. ‘If thou be near’–Theron was there. So proud of those kids, so grateful to you, so appreciating the music, so loving–he was there.

Tim’s eyes were full as he nodded, Yes. And then said it out loud: Yes.



Board house
Wednesday November 17th 2021, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I am not good at stopping a project to dive into a distractive one: I like to slog through till it’s good and done first.

That said.

I realized that this is the third week of what was originally going to be a two-week house repair and those guys have been working hard. While I knit stitch after stitch they’re doing hammer lift after hammer lift. There was so much to do, and as they ripped out damaged wood they found more.

I wasn’t sure if I should knit them each a hat–but I knew I wanted at least to be able to should the moment present itself.

The feeling grew until I found myself actually putting the afghan down yesterday, promising it it would only be a few days, and diving into a gray-blue skein of Polar Morn. Finished it noon today and started on the next. Jupiter. A skein with flecks of dark pink so it didn’t make it into the redwood trunk.

So now that’s 2/3 done and the pink stitches are pretty much drowned out by the browns around it and maybe it will do and maybe it won’t, but I like it.

Chris stopped by to check on things and looked at what they’d found. I signed another change order a few hours later.

We knew that with double-paned windows, you can’t replace them without repainting the whole house afterwards. What I did not know is you can’t just buy a new window. Someone who knows what they’re doing has to come out and assess how green a tint my supposedly clear glass has so that it will match the other windows, because that’s just how it is and mine are old.

Me: I’m an art dealer’s daughter and I did not know that?! Glass has green?!

I wonder if my sister’s twins remember cracking that one while rough housing. It’s been sitting there behind the curtain that way for way too long.

That roof plank has to go. And that one over there.

Seventeen grand again and it turns out I had more time after all to decide whether his workers were knit-worthy.

And the afghan says, Told you so.



Row by row, inch by inch
Monday November 08th 2021, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Knit

Coming along…



Tableclothed
Saturday November 06th 2021, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Knit,Mango tree

I looked at the forecast and did a sudden oh, right, I have to get in the habit of doing that again, and ran out with a bright flashlight and got the mango tree double-covered for the night to protect the fruit. Winter might come after all.

Meantime, a Ravelry link: my hands don’t love knitting cellulose fibers but that would be worth it. There are no instructions, just a seat-of-the-pants this-is-sort-of-how-I-did-it.

I think I could kluge that.

It’s fabulous. A beaded lace dress with a solid bodice, using an oak lace doily pattern that Lacis in Berkeley published eons ago for the skirt, sleeves, and inset. Make it A-line and floor length and it would be a wedding dress for the ages.

Kaethe Kliot, the founder of Lacis in Berkeley, knit doilies as cotton tablecloths to sell to American soldiers to send home after WWII and saved just enough to emigrate. She established a shop and museum and essentially a bookstore for all things lace, run now by her daughter, last I knew. She collected very old doily patterns including the ones she’d used and published them in several books so they wouldn’t vanish from history.

That dress took one of those doilies back to tablecloth size and showed what it could do. Wow.



Baby moth butts yarn
Wednesday November 03rd 2021, 10:41 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

I started an afghan months ago that was three shades of earthy pink/claret/burgundy, from some 95/5 silk/lycra I’d bought at Colourmart seven years ago. My thought was, I’m finally going to use this up; I wanted something simple after finishing the incredibly finicky fish afghan; and it could go to anyone who might be allergic to animal fibers and they would be so thrilled. Because silk.

I knew from experience that the stuff shrinks by about a third so I’d started it on size 10.5s: big needles to use up my stash and create that yardage fast.

Silk likes to jump off needles, and three strands at once? It was not fun. Twelve plies per strand spun tightly together and yet each individual one just waiting to snag on your hands if you had any rough spots that day?

I wanted it done, I just didn’t want to do it.

So it sat there at about eight inches long and not useful for anything. For months. It didn’t help that I thought I only had one more threesome of those cones, which meant I would not be able to make it as long as I wanted.

In the middle of the summer I stumbled across more cones. I DID have more! That shawl I’d made hadn’t stopped me from having enough! I could actually do this. I got about five more inches done on it.

Malabrigo in the hands it is not. It sat forlornly in a second timeout.

The redwood blanket. Done. But what if Kat, if I were to ask directly, were to confess she loves the idea of it but not how it looks? What if she’s allergic to wool? Shouldn’t I be prepared to offer her options? This is about making her happy, not me. I started wondering towards that silk, was it really so bad? (Do they have a pet whose claws will shred the snot out of the stuff?)

And then the phone rang yesterday. It was an employee of the contractor who had originally planned to come in September along with the roofers to repair the termite damage, till life had thrown the boss a curveball; could he come by in an hour and go over the parts where the work needed to be done? It’s the fascia all around, right?

Blink.

And so he did that. Appraised the situation–yup, the woodpeckers went after the termites there, set up stuff for the morrow and left, telling me they’d be here between 8 and 9 a.m.

I dug out that silk afghan project. I’d stored those rediscovered extra cones with it. Phew!

I got up this morning and another employee was sitting in a truck out front waiting for it to be 8:00 so he could start.

And while that wooden fascia started coming off from all around the house, I knitted silk. I took breaks of course, but basically I tried to feel productive to live up to their example. I decided I was going to finish off that first set of 656-yard cones and at about ten p.m. I finally did.

Twenty-nine inches. Not bad. Not bad at all. And all this time it was just waiting for me to get a move-on, fer cryin’ out loud.



We’re fine
Monday October 25th 2021, 10:13 am
Filed under: Knit

This is the first year we’ve gotten more than a single Page orange on that tree and yesterday’s storm blew nearly all the leaves off the thing.

I don’t think that works.



Eyeballing it
Sunday October 10th 2021, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

This is definitely one that needs a daylight photo. I’m wincing a bit at this one but it’s what I’ve got.

On the right, the redwood was growing into the fence and the roots had tunneled underneath towards our house maybe four feet away.

I had k3, *(yo ssk k1)¬†doing the diagonal on the right with a knit 1 at the center and then (*k1 k2tog yo) doing a reverse of that diagonal on the left–which meant that when they met up at the center bottom where I did a double-decrease every other right side row three times, it was going to push the fabric upwards visually and physically a bit in that spot, pointing an arrow at the tree above. It was where the roots lifted our sidewalk. But that change of direction at the center also balanced the side edges climbing pointing upwards towards each other, and I wanted that.

With no boughs nor needles nor hawks nor squirrels nor fog the stump is just a bit bare so far. But man does it feel good to be making serious progress.



Happy Birthday, Anne!
Tuesday October 05th 2021, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Early last year, I picked out a mug online from Mel and Kris Kunihiro and rather than having them bother with shipping it to me from Oregon I told them I’d pick it up at Stitches West, since we were going to see each other there shortly anyway.

That was the Stitches that I ended up missing because I had, as my doctor told me later, a clear-cut case of covid. (No tests at the time for blue states, as Californians well remember.) I could have turned that big knitters’ convention into a super spreader event all by myself had it been held a few days earlier, before I knew I was coming down so sick.

So. Anne admired and even owned some of Mel and Kris’s pottery and she volunteered to pick it up from them there and drop it off at my house. It meant a great deal to me that she was going so far out of her way to make life a lot easier for everybody.

And that’s what started it all. We’ve known each other for years as passing friends at the yarn store, but she set the stage for a far deeper connection than that.

All these many months where, like most of us, I saw only a very few people in real life at great intervals, it seemed like whenever I most needed it to save my sanity one of them, standing outside, masked and at a distance, was Anne, totally putting up with my deafness that the masks make worse. Popping by to say hi after fair warning to make sure I’d be there. (Like we were going anywhere. Like anyone was.)

Two? Three? years ago? Before we had any idea what was about to hit us all, she gave me a box of yarns that she wasn’t ever going to knit, no matter how pretty they were–and told me not to knit her a cowl or hat.

Totally on to me. Busted.

And yet…things change.

I’m both excited for her and more than a bit devastated for me that she and her husband are moving to Portland in, unfathomably, two weeks. I’ve been covering that up to myself by looking at houses, sending her links, going, Isn’t this one so cool! Or, Can you even/what were they thinking/can you believe nine bedrooms/2 baths seven fridges taking up what was left of what used to be a living room, extension cords everywhere, with a trapdoor in the closet to a gun safe/wine stash in the otherwise nonexistent basement. A frat house maybe?

When she commented on this cowl picture I posted a month ago I suddenly knew why I’d bought that color combination that was a bit too yellow for me. At the last Stitches I’d gone to, from the Yarn Truck parked inside at the edge of the convention center floor.

If only she’d let me.

So I asked.

And she admitted that she had been hoping that, before she leaves, I would knit her something.

She stopped by today. I pulled out a bag of finished projects: purple wool, blue baby alpaca, ecru cashmere, the finished wool cowl she’d admired, and one in a similar colorway but with more blues and almost no yellows.

She went straight for this one. Still her favorite. “I like the yellows,” holding it up under her chin for me so I could see for myself that she was right, that was the one. She asked me the yarn and I didn’t remember, so it’s a good thing I wrote it down while I still had the label at hand. Yarnloveyarn.com’s Magic Forest.

It had been for her from its beginning and had been waiting for the two of us to figure it out.