Unless you know of one?
Wednesday July 17th 2019, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Knit

Does yarn ever leap out at you and jump on your needles and ignore you telling it no?

Yarn is secretly cats.

Yes the baby needs something soft and small enough to drag around behind her.

I was afraid the single-ply baby alpaca might shed a few fibers.

I was wrong. It sheds like a Maine Coon in summer . The silk percentage does not anchor it in there.

But oh mannnnn. That stuff is SO soft. And SO pretty.

So since everything there goes through the laundry the fibers will just felt in place, and, bonus, it’ll even cover over the yarnover holes to keep the baby warmer. Knitting this is fine to do because it claims that it is as it races ahead. It’ll be great.

Right? Right?

Now I just need a pattern of a moose. There are lots of patterns of moose.

Just not in lace.

It’ll wrap around someone just a bit smaller
Friday July 12th 2019, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Every knitter needs a UFO stash.

No, seriously.

So: about three, four years ago? While visiting with a cousin of mine, she clearly had something on her mind but couldn’t quite say it. She almost–but no.

We were about to leave for the airport. She knew this was her last chance and she could only ask such a thing in person, if even then, where she could see my reaction and back off fast and apologize.

I could see those wheels turning and grinned. Out with it!

There was suddenly an even more tortured look in her face mixed with such fervent wishing.

Knowing who she was and how much I adored her I added, Of course I’ll knit it, before she’d even answered.

Which is exactly what she was hoping for while knowing it was too much to ever ask so she wasn’t going to. But she was about to move to England and she didn’t have anything really against all the cold rain she anticipated there….

A scarf and a hat? Sure! Color? Purple? What kind of purple?

Oh I like all purples!

(Well, that doesn’t exactly nail it down…)

So I found some purple yarn, and it was Malabrigo, which I love, so, I bought it.

And it was Arroyo, which I quickly found I didn’t love when I was going to have to do a whole long wrap around your neck it’s cold here and it might not be warm enough and then I’d have to do a hat, too, and then worry the same things about it. I wasn’t the least bit sure that that hand-dyed aspect was her thing. Solid was a safer bet. So I found a thicker, worsted-weight very soft plain-purple yarn with some cashmere added to the wool that I wouldn’t have known about nor found had it not been for her request and she got a lovely set that she adores.

And a bunch of other people got nice things made out of that yarn before it was discontinued.

I still had the beginnings of that Arroyo.

Many times I thought about ripping it out so I could use the needles for something else but that would have meant my hours spent making something perfectly nice but not yet useful were worth less than a $7 pair of cheap ones. So, lacking some better immediate use for that yarn, it stayed.

Until today.

I picked up a few dresses I’d bought for the baby to get an idea on pattern sizing, which answered my question as to whether I needed to continue the lace part further: no.

I went down two needle sizes and started ribbing, because babies grow and ribbing stretches. I decreased for the armhole edges, then eventually at the neck, on up to the shoulders, and there you go: the front of one baby sweater, about six months size. Easiest fastest start to a project ever.

How to deal with gophers
Monday July 08th 2019, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

Ten more rows and it’s done, ten more rows and after a hundred+ hours of work it’s done and that’s my excuse for not fixing this silly sideways picture tonight… Seed stitch rows, but there are only ten of them and you can do anything if it stops at ten rows. Ten more rows and it’s done…

Meantime, Bill’s (the guy in yesterday’s post) late dad is the person who, twenty-five years ago, told me about gopher plants and where to find the seeds. So I went to the little ’60’s-hippie-holdover Uncommon Ground place (now a high-rise) and bought some from a man who was serious about gardens in a way that I in no way was at the time. It was a little intimidating, though I’m sure he only meant to be helpful.

They’re biennials, which means they do all their flowering and seeding the second year. And boy do they. Their roots give the gophers the equivalent of poison ivy and they stay away, so, two years for the price of one.

I planted a few. I got one particularly big one and then some more joined it.

This is after having followed another neighbor’s advice and having stuck my hose in the ground to flush them out to get them to move on. The only thing that did was make my Californian water bill jump by a hundred dollars that month. Yow.

So, the gopher plants.

They seemed to work. Cool.

And then they got determined to take over everything, which would not do. One must take them out carefully. They’re not overly friendly above ground to people, either–wear gloves, you don’t want to find out you’re one of the allergic ones.

So I spent a few years discouraging them from coming back and eventually all that ran its course and was over. (With the exception of one plant nine years ago.)

I did, however, see evidence of a gopher again near my fruit trees in 2016 and fought them with the newly-Internet-approved cinnamon sprinkled down every hole and cinnamon sticks on top to be emphatic about it, and that seemed to work, too. This year’s new peach got planted in a gopher-proof wire cage (bought there along with the tree) to be on the safe side.

I haven’t seen any sign of them since the mountain lion came through the neighborhood. Although, truthfully, a hungry raccoon would probably go after them, too.

Look what I just found popped up behind my Fuji apple.

It’s late and it’s small but it is standing guard and I know if I let it, it will soon command an army.

Um, let’s not this time.

On a side note, just for fun and so that I can find the link again: an Alexandra Petri column on state flags that made me laugh.

Happy Solstice
Friday June 21st 2019, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Knit

Since I am alternating rows to blend dye lots, I am now on skeins 13 and 14, at, unstretched, about 49″ square.

I had to pick something up the other day that I knew was going to be good and heavy–and to my surprise it wasn’t so much this time.

I guess all those dozens and dozens of hours of lifting and moving and shifting all that wool in my lap as I worked across those rows is paying off!

Warm comfort
Friday June 14th 2019, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Knit

So there was this big, soft, lace shawl. The yarn is lovely, dyed by Lisa Souza. I made it awhile ago, and if I were making it now I’d finesse a few things on it pattern-wise but it is what it is.

For quite awhile I’ve thought it would be just the colors for J. She would love it. It’s pretty.

And yet nothing came of that–it sat there, when it could actually be doing something for her, and that bugged me.

And yet every time I started in the direction of mailing it to her, somehow…it…fizzled out, and I could see no excuse for that. I would search for faults in myself as to why, faults in it, wondering if not that then what was I going to make her and, in the middle of my major afghan project, when?

Yesterday, and from my physical distance where I don’t see her day to day I wasn’t expecting this at all, she opened up. A little, but also a lot. About dealing with the anniversaries of, separately, her mother and her 20-year-old son, and it was not a good day. I knew her father had also recently passed. Things were sufficiently hard that she wasn’t sure that she could continue on through the pain.

We talked about that a little, with me saying there are people I do not and will not know how to comfort the same way she can. I’ve never had to order the plug pulled on my loved one. I’ve never borne that heavy a weight. Only she can help the next person through it. The world needs her and the compassion she brings to everyone around her.

And then I told her I would give her a tracking number in the morning.

She instantly knew what I was up to–what it would be she had no idea, but, she’s totally on to me. Which was part of the point: giving her something in tomorrow and the next day and the next (since it’s the weekend) to look forward to and then have as a reminder for all of her life to come of just how much she is loved. I plan to message her another tracking number next week with something different. One. Day. At. A. Time. Till it gets better. It can. It will. I’m there for her.

That trip to the post office was one of the most important I have ever done and today is the day it needed to happen.

A swashbuckling Purse’n’Boots
Sunday June 02nd 2019, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Wildlife

(Afghan progress: halfway there.)

Yonder daughter came by and homemade strawberry pie she’d made was enjoyed by all.

Later, I was reading the paper and mentioned out loud the story in there of someone in Florida hearing something messing around downstairs in the middle of the night and they got all brave and stepped out the bedroom door to look over the railing to find out what on earth was going on.

The downstairs was being wrecked. By an 11-foot alligator that had broken in through a window.

I said, Y’know, when I was a kid those were almost extinct from hunting, and now they’ve really made a comeback.

Daughter gives a wry grin and says, You can tell your blog: it is much better to live where there are man-eating cats where you hike. Much better! Man-eating cats!

And she turns back to what she was doing, chuckling, joking/not joking.

Wednesday’s post I forgot to post Wednesday
Thursday May 30th 2019, 5:47 pm
Filed under: Knit

Costco-sized Tonka truck, rocking chair, and two-yard niddy noddy for scale in the 4:15 pm light.

I knew the bottom-edging seed stitch was going to ripple somewhat from the cabling drawing up the stitches, I just didn’t expect it to be that much. The seed section would have been longer, which would have tamped down the rippling somewhat, but it was just taking too much yarn at the time. On the other hand, I figure rippling for a girl is not the, um, tragedy, yeah that’s the word, that it would be for a boy.

Two skeins
Monday May 20th 2019, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Knit

Last row of the repeat: I blacked that line out extra thoroughly when I got done.

As for the work, it will stretch and curve out as it comes to weigh more and once it hits water. Right now it’s either 7″ long or 9″ with a slight smoothing out or who in the world knows once I get done. But, bigger. Definitely bigger.

Had a brief scare where the upside down V in the chart suddenly looked like a right side up V to my brain and I wondered if I’d just done three+ days of work wrong by misreading it? Those are very very different instructions, decrease two vs increase one. But no, the stitch count was still 30 per repeat.

Don’t DO that to yourself! (I did get it right the first time, but by the time I figured that out I was going, well if I goofed it worked so I’m going to keep doing it that way.)

Physicist’s knitting
Sunday May 19th 2019, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Knit

Knitting used to demonstrate physics and to work out things such as new plastic surgery techniques: here. (New York Times link.)

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.”


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.

Monday May 13th 2019, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

I haven’t mentioned the peregrine falcons all season and the San Jose ones are about to fledge.

Video taken today here, a few baby feathers hanging on as the eyases look over the edge and see some of the world outside their concrete outdoor hallway, with everything new.

Photos from when they were banded last week here. Two males, one female.

And the afghan? I started in on that pattern.

Goofed, tinked back all 279 stitches I’d just done, put the project back in its ziplock, and decided to let it breathe for a day. Discovered a ninth pomegranate on the tree.

The picture-frame stitch
Saturday May 11th 2019, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knit

(Needle at left turned sideways in search of a 90 degree angle.)

There’s this cabled lace pattern I’ve always loved but it only came charted and my brain injury doesn’t do charts.

After twenty years of owning the Barbara Walker charted patterns book anyway (because: Barbara Walker), this time I wanted to make page 146 enough to confess my shortcomings to a group of knitters–who instantly came to my rescue.

I swatched it. What was my problem. (!!!) This is easy!!

Before I could get started, though, the baby afghan was going to need a border. Garter stitch would match some of the inward pattern–but garter stretches laterally and the cables were going to shrink the width every so many stitches and I could just see the rippling–the top and bottom would never lie flat. Ribbing might distort the edges the other way by pulling them in too much.

So I went for the tried and true, even if it is my least favorite to knit: 1×1 seed stitch. Twice the motions for the same length of fabric and hard on the wrists, but it makes for a perfect picture frame effect around just about anything. Even if it absolutely devours yardage. I bought the whole bag of ten Rios skeins but I may end up trying to match my Hollyhock dye lot.

Knitted stitches are wider than they are tall, so ten rows is not enough to match the ten side stitches that I’ve set the thing up for: I’m not done. My hands definitely are for the night, but, I’m finally getting started!

I’ve got it. I’ve got that Barbara Walker Lacy Cables pattern and for my granddaughter-on-the-way’s sake I’m finally going to do it.

With a little help from my friends, and I can’t thank you all enough.

Wednesday May 08th 2019, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Knit

Deb’s generous offer had me wondering: maybe that’s something we could do with this old leather-hinged kindling box we inherited? Make it an owl box? I don’t know enough to know if it would work; obviously, you’d need an entry hole the right size. Would the slats rule it out?

Meantime, this morning a ball of bright turquoise Rios threw itself at my hands and demanded to be knitted. Now. I have not a clue why, but I did. My yarn is the boss of me again, and it feels good that it is. 

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.

Everything in its moment
Thursday May 02nd 2019, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

 I so love this picture.

My daughter and her son at the Anchorage Museum, a place that preserves and offers the past, the present, and (with displays under construction and areas where we thought we knew what to expect cut off from our view) the future.

On a less philosophical note, they do still have the best qiviut I know, and this time I bought a skein. I was told they do ship.