Zoom hat
Sunday January 14th 2024, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Knit

Oh, *I* know how to make a pompom! said the woman on the plane at Thanksgiving, and I rather regretted having cut and run both ends in because that left her with less yarn to work with.

I thought of her as I didn’t cut the yarn just now.

But I really do need to finish it. You never know when it’ll need to be right ready to go.

And then you just keep going
Thursday January 11th 2024, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

So, there’s two ways to do it, he was saying: take twenty years while you carefully weigh every possible variation of every possible part or event or choice–or build fast go smash blow things up and learn and then go do it again.

Like Elon Musk on the latter? I asked.

Exactly. NASA vs SpaceX.

This from a man who’s quite proud of having been part of a software group that worked on the Mars Rovers, so I guess he does have some idea of what it’s like to work with NASA, actually. (You should have seen his excitement over that perfect landing. But I digress.)

He was thinking I’d Musked it, but, no, not at all. I explained that (while knitting lots of hats and a few cowls) I hadn’t just dithered over it these last three or four months–I’d drawn, redrawn, googled for images for inspiration, drawn some more, but I just couldn’t picture it in my mind; that brain function was lost to injury years ago.

I told him, I pulled out the–remember when I made that landscape of Alaska in a completely impractical baby blanket for Lillian, out of baby alpaca and silk, and then made it over again in washable wool? I still have the original. I looked at it again today and again worked out how I could riff on it.

I even dreamed the silly project a few nights ago and got some of that visualization down and it has stayed with me.

I had collected so much cashmere for it from Colourmart’s half-price sales (and had quite a few lace weights plied into the weight I wanted for an extra $5. The offerings are few this month but there are some.)

So I felt like I had NASA’d the thing to death. I had long had the bottom edge finished and waiting.

But what it came down to was, I was afraid of it. I was afraid after all this build-up of totally botching the thing. (Thinking of Carolyn’s tire swing that I embroidered lawn scuff marks under so it would not look like–yow and never mind and I was thrilled when one of her neighbors marveled in delight, Is that the tire swing?!)

It felt like a huge triumph today when, first the Alaska, then pulled out the latestest sketch, the yarn, then lined the balls up together, okay that no no that one okay and that and put that back that no that’s going to be sky not river that won’t go but that one…

…and at long last I committed to it and sat down and knitted that first row of color work. It felt like cutting into one’s first steek (man, could someone who writes Autocorrect go learn how to knit?) But it just didn’t have to be that hard. At all.

I’ve wanted to do a creekside and it has wanted to be a mountain landscape for all this time.

Mountains it is.

For the first inch, anyway, unless it decides otherwise–proving that my yarn is still the boss of me–but I think. I think. I’ve got it and I can take it from here.

(Let’s draw it in colors rather than purl stitches, and change those antlers) okay, where should I put the elk?

I Kondo think it needs to go
Friday January 05th 2024, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Knit

Laying flat it’s 22.5″ across, 16″ shoulder seam to shoulder seam, 25″ long, and 26″ from bottom of the cuff to top of the shoulder seam.

I mean, it sounds like I did a pretty good job of following whatever pattern it was, but it sure doesn’t look that way on me. The yarn isn’t terrible but it’s nothing special; it’s either a third or a quarter mohair mixed with acrylic. I had just started knitting again after reading Norman Cousin’s Anatomy of an Illness after my lupus diagnosis and this was back when wool yarn was only described as wool, not sold by breed nor micron count nor softness (or at least not as far as I knew.)

The ’80’s were all about the mohair anyway.

So I have this very plain white hand knit sweater that swamps me, particularly those Princess Diana wedding dress-style puffed sleeves. The photo understates them: they are not shy.

If anyone wants to save this from whatever fate awaits it in the Goodwill box, let me know and I’ll send it right out to you. If you’d like it on you, it’s on me.

(Edited in the morning to add with a laugh, hey, you guys, didn’t mean to scare everybody away. It’s okay to come out now.)

Because-I-can’t-do-anything-else-about-it knitting
Monday January 01st 2024, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

The tops of hats are my least favorite part to do: to keep from growing any gaps between the knitted-together pairs of stitches and those around them, I pull the yarn consciously taut, and I tend to keep it taut all the way around those rows. It makes for a dense, warm top of the head, but it’s a pain in the hands to squeeze those needle tips in there over and over.

But hey, you’ve got two pairs of size sevens tied up till you do, so….

I needed to go finish yesterday’s hat. I didn’t really want to–I wanted to start something new, something brighter, something cheerful on a gray day.

And then the phone rang. It was my mom.

My brother is suddenly in the hospital and he’s going to have a rough go of it for the next little bit and we are all praying hard.

I sat down with that hat and realized it was offering a chance to control one small thing in my life and have it come out the way I wanted it to, right now, no waiting. Make it.

Even working the ends in felt like a relief. Whoever it’s for, including possibly a doctor or nurse taking care of him, it’s ready, and I need to go start another one.

Sunday December 31st 2023, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Begin the New Year as you mean to go on….

I hoped to see a particular someone at church today and gift him with a hat in thanks for a kindness of his, but I found myself wanting to make extra sure he got a color he liked.

Turns out he was off visiting elsewhere–but so were McKay and his bride, only, here.

McKay grew up with my kids, so much so that when he ran into my daughter in college someone asked her later if they were seeing each other and she told them, No! That would be like dating my brother!

His family moved away when he was in high school; I was in the hospital when they left, which makes it easy to remember it was 2003, and I hadn’t seen him since. Although I did get to send him and his bride best wishes via Facebook when they got married.

He wanted her to see where he grew up.

And I had two Mecha hats, no sign of that other guy, and plenty of time to knit more for him. But only one time to be able to hand these two theirs in person.

And with that bit of incentive, the cowl I was working on got finished this afternoon (picture pre-blocking) and the next hat went from an unwound hank of good intentions to 2/3 of the way done.

You never know when you’ve got to be ready for anything.

Wishing a Happy New Year to all.

We could totally Kaffe Fassett those
Saturday December 30th 2023, 6:13 pm
Filed under: Knit

Knitted. Boots. Made of a fine strand of leather. $4,100.

Huh. Wouldn’t those be scrunchy socks in no time? The designer’s gold button will help pull those right down.

Yeah, I did. I looked. 1 mm “yarn” is as fine as I could find but you’d want a longer skein of it than I was finding on Etsy. Kind of a fun idea, though, and leather slipper bottoms are easy to find.

What I want to know is, how does it look where they ran the ends in and does it feel okay to walk on them?

And just wait till next time!
Tuesday December 26th 2023, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

Maddie couldn’t wait: she wanted me to help her knit. She wanted to make a finger puppet. She wanted it to be one she had made.

And so I cast on ten stitches, did the first row, and showed her how. Only, this time she was half a year older than the last time we’d tried this and she had that earlier experience under her belt and she took right to it. It became a dozen stitches, sure, but she did nearly all of this by herself. All she needed help with was figuring out when turning the thing not to knit into the too-loose stitch-below-the-stitch at the beginning; yarn tension was not a thing yet.

She wanted it longer but asked if I could add the last few rows to it.

Sure. Did she want it folded lengthwise and sewn?

No, widthwise.

Oh, well then you’re pretty much there. A row or two, she watched carefully as I sewed it, and then it was gleefully declared done and tried on.

It didn’t need to have a face or wings to be a finger puppet to her, it needed to be something made by her. And it was. She’s a natural. It was the day before her ninth birthday and I hadn’t learned till I was ten, I told her (and a half!) She’s good!

Halfway there
Sunday December 10th 2023, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Knit

Cashmere/cotton cowl coming along.


Plain and simple hat pattern
Saturday December 02nd 2023, 9:37 pm
Filed under: Knit

A master hat pattern, DebbieR asks. Here’s mine: Malabrigo Mecha, 70 stitches, 1×1 ribbing on size US 6, switch to US 7 and knit in stockinette for 39-41 rows. Decreasing at the top: knit 8, k2tog around. Knit a plain row. Knit 7, k2tog around. Plain row. Knit 6, k2tog around. Plain row. Knit 5, k2tog around. Sometimes I put a plain row here, sometimes not. Knit 4, k2tog around. K3, k2tog around. K2, k2tog around. K1, k2tog, around. K2tog around these last few stitches as you bind them off.

Quick, dense and warm, wool, washable, and very soft.

I’ve done a lot of these using just size 7 needles but it fits better with the little extra snugness around the face from the 6s. I’ve also made them simply using 6s the whole length.

Note that I am quite a loose knitter, one of the reasons my carry-arounds are hats rather than socks. Your gauge will likely vary, but whatever you make will fit someone who will be thrilled to have it.

Virginia don’t make me wait
Tuesday November 07th 2023, 11:24 pm
Filed under: History,Knit,Politics

I wanted to see the moment that number hit 21, sealing the Virginia Senate for the Democrats. My yarn was red, my hopes were blue.

I glanced down at the next stitch, quickly back up, and in that amount of time there it was.

Their Senate and House both have a one-vote margin on the Democrat side as I turn in for the night and I have 6.5″ of a new cowl to show for it.

Trick or Treat
Sunday November 05th 2023, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Friends,Knit,Life

Somehow a third cowl is now done. (And wet because I forgot to snap the photo first.)

Last Sunday there was a potluck lunch after church; I took some pumpkin almond flour muffins in an old Tupperware pie-taker. I’ve found it to be exactly the right size for putting three rings of cupcakes in.

My friend Gail, who is old enough to be my mother, saw me carrying the now-empty container afterwards and her eyes lit up: that was perfect! Could she borrow it for Tuesday night?


I had all week to muse on that; in all her years only now had she found the best thing to hold out to trick-or-treaters? But I could see it, though: big but fairly flat so that all the candy showed rather than being in a pile, so that kids could see what they were choosing. Wide enough to put space between a small shy child who has to reach in for their goodie and a grownup they don’t know well.

It took someone well aged to help me see the potentials in that piece of plastic through the eyes of a little child. I will always think of Gail now when I use it, and next Halloween (insert a Please? sent upwards) I will offer it to her before she even asks.

She wheeled her walker up to me today, chuckling, and held it out for my reclaiming. I laughed too and we thanked each other.

Well, somebody!
Saturday November 04th 2023, 9:38 pm
Filed under: History,Knit

The Washington Post, owned these days by Jeff Bezos of Amazon, announced its new CEO and Publisher today: a guy who worked for Rupert Murdoch the last ten years.


Well, meantime. I needed a carry-around project and looking at the vastness of the yardage in that stash of mine, just had no idea. So I found myself saying a prayer: please direct my needles to where you want me to take them.

Next thing you know I two small but thick balls of Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk in my hand that were a mystery to me: maybe a Webs sale? (Yarn.com for a URL was pure early-internet-adopter genius.) Stitches 2018?

The first one got me to 6″, blocking will increase that, and two balls will be just right. I should be able to finish this Sunday.

Okay, so that answered the what, now we just need the who.

I’d almost forgotten how fun little projects are
Thursday November 02nd 2023, 8:20 pm
Filed under: Knit

Started with ten stitches per repeat, made it twelve after awhile so it could widen out and continued till the cowl would be able to fold in in triplicate. The eye likes odd numbers. Braided cashmere Piuma from stash and no I have no idea where it’s going to yet; I’ll find out soon enough.

It’s making ends meet at the moment but I’ll run those in as soon as it dries.

Apple leaves in October
Saturday October 28th 2023, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Knit,Knitting a Gift

At least that’s what the pattern looks like to me.

I always scour coned yarns to get the mill oils out, but I often wonder if one needs to with silk.

This afternoon I finished the ribbon silk cowl that had puttered along all week (deadlines being a helpful thing; I want it ready to give tomorrow.)

And then I washed it. Didn’t even wait for the hot water, just a quick tepid soak with suds for ritual’s sake.

The change! All those twists that had been running through my hands for hours and made it hard to get the needle in the stitches as quickly as I’m used to–it didn’t look like that now at all. It shrank a little, yes, but the ribbon had turned into a tube. It had depth. It had much greater softness. It had smoothness. No angles in the fabric anymore, it was all rounded everything. Such a transformation!

As I marveled at it I thought at myself, You’ve done this before. This is not new. It’s just been a long time and you forgot.

Silk usually dries very fast but this was so dense that I had to take a hairdryer to it to be sure it’ll be ready in the morning. It’s not done, but at least it’s closer. Here, let me go run those ends in.

If only those two women at the bone scan office could see it now.

A connecting ribbon
Tuesday October 24th 2023, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

Just sayin’, if a man were developing a pattern for an infinity scarf would his fellow knitters cheer him on with, Write’em, cowlboy!

So. I sat down in the waiting room for a bone density scan, pulled out my knitting–and two sets of eyes across the room were immediately on my hands. I smiled, did the first few stitches, and then the woman about my age whom I took to be the daughter got up and came over to ask questions about my knitting. Did it take very long to do that? What was it going to be? It was so pretty!

(She had no idea how much I’d needed to hear that. It’s nice stuff but ribbon yarn still isn’t my favorite to work with.)

Then her mom got up slowly and carefully, as the very elderly do, and with her walker made it the half dozen or so steps to come join us. The daughter explained to her that it was silk.

I knew she wanted to touch it so I held the project out towards the mom so she could feel the fabric that was coming to be. She was delighted and I felt like I had just made her day, which totally made my day.

“So soft!” said the daughter.

There was no language nor cultural barrier. Just a coming together.

Then they called my name, and mother and daughter headed out smiling and on their way.