A Costco-sized bag of Hersheys
Thursday October 31st 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

So this is fun.

Or not.

I could just rip out all seven pine trees to get down to an easier do-over. Tried four times to make it come out looking right. Any variation on the concept will do at this point.

And then I ditched it for the evening, because trick or treaters were coming and you don’t want to have to break the concentration, right? Riiight. It does actually look a little better than this at this point but it’s amazing how much time can disappear into so few stitches. And no, just working them straight up as a solid piece and disappearing the dandelion forever won’t work–look how much extra yarn there is by the time you get to the top. All those yarn overs.

What it needed was a double-pointed needle at every stitch. Got it.

I didn’t want to lose 3000 stitches in a grand frog-for-all but at this point I probably might as well have.

Meantime, the neighborhood posted a map of who’s giving out candy, and in the large square block, that would be us and all of two other homes, the three of us being the points on a large triangle.

Not a single kid came. We were just too far out of their way. But I did get to wear my dad’s jewels-colored jester hat!

Color Guard
Tuesday October 29th 2019, 8:41 pm
Filed under: Knit
(Photo by Carolyn Richards)

Two men approaching. Turning in tandem just so. Lifting then folding the flag that had been draped over the coffin. Smoothing it down in a crisp motion. Again. Again.

The one striding in controlled, perfect steps to Mom, bowing low with the now-three-sided flag in his hands, thanking her for Dad’s service to our country and then placing the token in hers.

I was sitting next to her watching his eyes looking straight into hers and it was deeply moving.

I know it’s memorized and rehearsed. And yet–how often now do those two young soldiers get to pay their respects to the new widow of a WWII vet? To honor her as well. Our Greatest Generation.

May our country do the same for their families, hopefully seventy or so years away, when it is their turn.

Raspberry sherbet baby hat
Thursday October 24th 2019, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Knit

I’m still having a hard time squeezing my whole Dad into something so confined as a blog post or two, so a bit of knitting instead.

The yarn was a gift and not one I’d used before, but it said baby and it was a superwash wool and it didn’t require a trip to the yarn store to get, so, hey. I grabbed it for my carry on bag last week and some needles and finished a baby hat out of it just before the flight home landed.

Threes or even twos would have been better. But I didn’t pack them so 4 US needles it was. It came out more for cold indoors than blustery weather out, but that’s fine, there’s lots of indoors, too.

I ran the ends in and mailed it northward today.

(P.S. If you should happen to have a Procrastiknitting mug like this with a ball of pink yarn with two straight needles through it pictured on the other side, much though I like mine, test it. The handle got hot first in the microwave which suggests there’s lead in it, so I use it by the computer to hold pens. Particularly don’t put anything acidic in it to drink.)

It’s blue, anyway
Thursday October 10th 2019, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Knit

Well, if I want to say I added another hat to the pile for the guy to choose from I’d better go hurry and finish the thing.

Pouring the new chocolate
Tuesday October 08th 2019, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Knit

Saturday night, working together: hold the heavy bowl, pour, I can do that part your back’s bothering you you flatten with the knife–fill one mold, two, three…eight, nine…

And a half. Well we’ll just give it a bit of a swirl as we scrape the last cooling bits off the spatula so it’s not just random blops wherever.

The Madagascar variety turned out to be a particularly strong chocolate with an acidity your throat will notice. The Chocolate Alchemist had warned that it warrants roasting this one just right, so for once we’d let him do that part for us.

It wasn’t till the batch had set that we realized what we’d made. It so fits.

Turn the ship! Here Be (just one) Dragon!

Sunday October 06th 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Knit

The woman at Fillory who helped me find a sturdily washable worsted merino? She also happened to mention a favorite baby alpaca shawl she’d made, that she adored, that her husband was stunned to find that the shrunken mess he’d just pulled out of the laundry had been that. He didn’t quite believe it could be till she affirmed it.

I remembered how crushed my son-in-law was at how badly those first handknit hats for his baby had miniaturized.

I’d thought I could stretch any possible shrinking out because of the silk. I was so wrong.

That all stewed in my brain for a few days and then today at the start of two more two-hour blocks of Conference watching, I went into the stash room, pulled out an 1175 gram cone of that cashmere/cotton 50/50, and cast on.

I just couldn’t do that to him again. Or my daughter or their daughter. That baby alpaca/silk blanket was marvelous but it had to find its own purpose later.

The highest grade of both cashmere and cotton, the listing said. I believe.

I’ve gotten to see a baby blanket I’d made out of it after it had gone through a year of both washer and dryer. It wasn’t fluffy anymore but it was still very very soft. This was not going to be a come-down.

I don’t really have to worry anymore about the cotton part not being warm enough, which is the reason I didn’t use it in the first place–they’ll have moved away from Alaska by the time they get it, which I didn’t know then. But which is why they don’t already have the original: they didn’t want to worry about losing it in the move.

That’s still an Alaskan-born baby it’s for and I figure she still needs that landscape and her moose, and so does her daddy, who’s leaving the area he’s lived in since childhood.

I’ve finished the seed stitch bottom edge.

This time I have more than a sketch on a page to go by and the little details that I thought of after the fact that I wished I’d done I can now do. It will be better than the original.

Cold feet
Thursday October 03rd 2019, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Knit

39, 38, 46, 37, 39.

Our outside thermometer readings these last five mornings a half hour after sunrise.

Good thing I started zipping up the mango tree at night, but what on earth is it doing being in the 30s here in September and October?? The average low is supposed to be 55. Next thing you know we’ll be making snowmen.

Honey, honey, baby
Wednesday October 02nd 2019, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life
Lily on our last day in Anchorage

It was some peach baby alpaca spun loosely to keep it as soft as possible, with a bit of bamboo thrown in to keep it together. I saw it at Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco in August and my instant thought was, the Honeyladies owner recovering from being shot at the Gilroy Garlic Festival: she’s a redhead. Surely that would be a great color on her.

So I went home and sat right down and knit it into a cowl and didn’t take a picture yet and then forgot all about it in the drop-everything-and-run-to-Alaska-tomorrow thing after Lily arrived early.

I came home to a spoonful left at the bottom of the first bottle of Poison Oak Blossom.

Trying to avoid more fattening desserts, I’m again dipping a fresh fork in there several times a day. Skip the baklava and go straight to the heart of the thing. It’s less sweet than many types and darkly caramel and thick and lovely, but I’d only bought so many bottles at Andy’s Orchard.

The second one was going down fast. This called for reinforcements.

So after making sure I had the right place, today I went to the Honeyladies’ part-time store and bought a half gallon of the stuff because there is no honey like that honey.

I didn’t quite ask it right and the person who let me in didn’t quite understand why I would be asking so she didn’t get what I was asking and so maybe that was my answer. To, essentially: you guys rescue bees and property owners who suddenly find themselves with an uninvited swarm. Is the Poison Oak Blossom a one-time run and done with the bees now removed from there, or are there honeybees currently employed amongst such?

She answered in terms of seasonality.

That implies repetition from year to year, which is great! But I’ll ask more clearly later to be sure.

I waited till the woman had run my card through before saying I had a get-well card for Wendy.

In yarn. I pulled out the ziplock that had that cowl, said what I’d knitted it out of and wished them all my best.

I’d been a stranger and there’d been just a touch of wariness up till that moment, fully understood because a very different stranger had done them so much ongoing harm and pain.

But in that moment I saw it fall away from her as she looked forward to giving and making someone she cared about happy, just like I’d just gotten to do.

We are all in this life thing together.

Hanks for these
Tuesday October 01st 2019, 11:04 pm
Filed under: Knit

The blog innards are being weird (nonce? What’s a nonce and why did it make it go tilt?) so I’m afraid no pictures tonight.

So you’ll just have to take my word for it that there are four large, beautiful hanks of yarn drying in the guest (read: my teenagers grew up) bathroom: wound off their cones, scoured via unscented soap and the hottest water, some of them then put in cold water to try to preshrink them as much as possible and then back in hot to make them shrink more.

Several thousand yards.

All of which went from feeling like dried hairspray from the mill to the lovely, soft, natural-fiber yarns they were spun to be, inviting eyes and hands. It’s not knitting, it’s just preparation for such, but every now and then I just want to see that transformation take place. And then again. And then again.

I thought that was it, but nope, I did one more at the end of the day.

Colourmart got a new toy, a second-hand machine that chains the cobweb yarns they get so much of into an aran weight that more of their customers want, and that last skein was my wanting to see what it would be like when it grew up. I had a single cone. Blue.

When I cut open its bag it was definitely the finest merino: it went boing like a rubber band. But it’s more tightly chained than most such yarns and should have much less problem with catching the needle tips than many braided ones I’ve tried.

Colourmart needs to get that machine cranking because the washable Zegna Baruffa Cashwool spun up like that could turn into my favorite afghan yarn fast.

Time to get that head warm again
Friday September 27th 2019, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,LYS

The newborn size hat on the right was the one I made on the plane from the Plymouth superwash merino I bought our last full day in Alaska, knitted as a twin to what the white one had been.

I took these to Fillory Yarns today. One employee, when I described what had happened, said, well with the 50% silk content on the one you could maybe stretch it.

I guffawed and showed her the one on the upper left, saying, that had been my thought too till I saw it.

So my question of the day was, which wool could go through the washer *and* the dryer? Because it’s going to. And I don’t mind but I don’t want the kids disappointed again.

We read labels together. We both swooned over a particular superwash merino/silk/yak mix in the most gorgeous shimmering deep red, such perfect softness for a new baby, but there was just no way to know.

Finally she reached over to one of the less expensive lines and said, My grandsons do everything to the sweaters I made them out of this and they’ve come out okay.

It was the same Plymouth wool. I guess I lucked out up north after all. I touched a few skeins and somehow the bright red, a color my daughter loves, was softer than the white, which felt like my skein of white: certainly not bad at all, but not like cashmere. Huh. Usually it’s the dyeing process that diminishes the softness ever so slightly; I have no idea why this was the opposite, other than that red just got luckier in its choice of individual sheep?

A skein of it came home with me. I should already have mailed the white hat. I hope to get two to the post office come Monday.

Boxed in
Thursday September 26th 2019, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit,Life

Neighborhood Fiber Co’s Studio Worsted in I’m sure the Georgetown colorway, knitted for Mathias two years ago, wrapping Lily now and somehow he didn’t mind.

I remember the pattern as being both simple and annoyingly requiring constant attention, but you almost can’t tell what it is now after all the trips through the washer and dryer. But for an Alaskan baby it’s perfect: fulled and dense and warm and pretty soft. I was pleased with how the depth of color and the blanket have held up, so I thought I’d give a shout out to Karida Collins and her work.

Meantime, yesterday I went to get the mail. I put the heavy giant-burrito-shaped box (Huh. I wonder what that is) on top of the big one full of bottles of soap that I got lazy and simply ordered because hey, Prime, and then while balancing those reached for the envelopes in the box at about the same time I turned to go back up the walkway.

Burrito Box started to roll off.

It wasn’t mine and I could only assume it was highly breakable. You don’t want those resistors coming off that motherboard, or something. I jerked the lower box upwards to save it.

And instantly thought, No you didn’t.

No. I was being firm about this.

You did NOT just break your rib getting the mail. (Idiot.) Who DOES this??

I ignored it–till I admitted to Richard what I’d done, and later that every deep breath on the treadmill hurt.

We should go in?


Woke up this morning, rolled over, and felt some kind of snap. OH. Okay then.

And that is how I got to spend time with my new doctor today. She pushed and considered and ordered x-rays, and the verdict is that I managed to skewer the edge of that thing right into where the joint in the rib is–but I did not break it.

So no sharp ends poking around in there?

Nope. Bruised the cartilage, and it’s going to hurt for a few days.

Yay! Fire up the treadmill, I need me some walking time!

And (note to self after finding that the first of those bottles of soap had the lid almost entirely unscrewed, with the predictable mess) next time just go out and buy the stupid soap at Target, lady, willya?

Socks in box
Wednesday September 25th 2019, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Knit

(Carefully) rolling the box he’d climbed into made him giggle.

So the computer did it to my picture. Sorry, Mac, you’re just not as cute.

Full-ly expected
Tuesday September 24th 2019, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

The forgotten Blue Moon Fiber order from Tina Newton’s dyepots arrived the day before we left, a cheerfully vivid 50/50 merino silk. Not real practical for kids but a lot of fun and it would at least last a little while. Lily got a hat, and on hearing the next morning that Mathias had insisted on wearing it yarmulke style, I knit him one, too, fascinated at how differently the yarn played out in the two sizes.

The white: I had Shibui with me in I think baby alpaca/merino, when some cotton with a little silk is what I’d intended to grab. Again, at least Lily would get to wear it for a little while before it would have been outgrown anyway, right? I had time. I had needles. I had this yarn. Go.

I did know that everything goes through the laundry there; to knit with anything not machine washable was to know it would have a very short life. And that was okay.

I realized afterwards that I buy enough coned yarn that I deliberately preshrink that I hadn’t actually realized just how much laundering could affect yarn-store wool. It wasn’t going to just go down a single size or so.

They really did love them while they lasted and even though it was okay with me, the kids hurt that they’d felted them down to iphone-6 cozies.

Our last full day in Anchorage, then, Richard and I stopped by Far North Yarn and bought a skein of by-golly actual superwash merino. Their Rios shipment wasn’t in yet but I just needed a little something simple to start.

The replacement white lace hat, identical to the original but not quite as soft (hey Plymouth), was finished by the time the first plane touched down in Seattle on our way home Saturday.

Now I need to stop by the local shops to try to find a washable rainbow. Bright. It has to be bright.

It rained every single day we were there. There had been thousands of fires across the state and the air had been record bad, to the point that the doctors had been reluctant to send Lillian and Sam home into it and you could even smell the smoke from inside the hospital.

Rain, blessed rain.

We got to see the biggest rainbow ever, stretching across parkland from mountain to mountain and towering over the one in between.

Mathias and his baby sister need rainbow hats now that hold up to the elements.

Three airports
Saturday September 21st 2019, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Knit

We just walked in the door. The earthquake was in Alaska. My laptop was dead and I couldn’t access my email till we got home, but I can now. After 19 days I’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do–and pictures to share.

Crashing for now. Type to you tomorrow.

Yes it does
Friday September 20th 2019, 11:51 am
Filed under: Knit

Sunday: I startled her into a laugh, and it was a warm, welcoming laugh that left me wistful that I couldn’t stop right there and chat and become friends for life, because it instantly felt like we were now.

Up to that moment I had been a bit consternated, and the rain wasn’t helping any. Church was over, the building was emptying, and I was glad to have found someone still there I could ask as she finished clearing things from a children’s classroom.

“Excuse me–we went outside looking for our car and it wasn’t there; is there another parking lot on the other side of the building?”

I’m sure no one had ever asked her that before, and the chance to so easily make my day easier delighted her.

“Yes, there is,” she nodded as she laughed in surprise.

Richard, meanwhile, was already ahead, determined to find that car without having to be out in that rain any more than necessary. You have a problem, you apply logic, you solve it. Which is fine.

But I wouldn’t have missed that moment of mutual delight for anything.