At Green Planet
Thursday January 19th 2017, 10:29 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Family,Friends,Life,LYS

Green Planet Yarn had a meet-and-greet today: TNNA, the Stitches-type get-together for wholesalers and yarn store owners, was going to be here this weekend and thus the owners of several yarn dyeing companies had agreed to come to Beth’s shop with samples of new lines and just to get to meet some of the people who actually use what they create.

My going would mean being at least an hour and a half late picking Richard up from work. He encouraged me not to worry about it and just go. (A co-worker offered him a ride home in the end.)

It wasn’t just that I wanted to see the yarns: I specifically wanted to thank the folks at Blue Sky Fibers. I’m sure I’ve told the story here before, but not recently I don’t think, so here goes.

I was in the early stages of working on my lace shawls book. Meantime, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was coming to Berkeley for her first-ever book signing in California–Stash, I think was the name of the place–and Jocelyn and Cris and I carpooled together to go. After knowing Stephanie via the Knitlist since our kids had been little, I finally got to meet her for the first time.

Stash did a brisk business in books and yarn that night, and I came across some Blue Sky baby alpaca/silk that was both new and like nothing else out there. Wow. SO soft. Luminous, too, just gorgeous (and it is still one of the nicest yarns I know, all these years later.) I snapped up two skeins but definitely needed more to make a shawl.

Please, they told me: we know we have more of it in the back. We’re swamped. Can we just mail it to you in the morning?


I got a very embarrassed phone call the next day: no, actually, they did not have any more, and there was about zero chance of getting an exact match on the next order. They were so sorry.

And that set off the great yarn hunt. I needed more and it needed to be that dyelot. There weren’t as many yarn stores online then nor that carried that particular yarn, but I called a few and emailed more and did what I could.

I’d seen ads in Interweave magazines for a particular shop back East that seemed to have a good inventory, and they said they would check and they asked for my phone number.

It did not occur to me to mention to them that I was three time zones away.

And thus the infamous story within the family of their starting the day by making sure I knew before I should head out for work that I had to keep looking.

Richard groaned awake in the dark, one of many times when being able to take my ears off at night has been nice for me but for him, not so much, and he reached over my head for the old Princess phone placed there on the small chance I might hear it ring if I really really had to.

“It’s your New York City boiler-room yarn pushers,” he growled as he shoved the handset my way at 5 a.m. “They want you to know they don’t have your dye lot.”

At that, I gave up and appealed to Blue Sky directly: did they have it? I was quite sure they didn’t do retail, but could I buy it from them anyway?

They actually had an exact match. I asked for two, they sent me three, and they refused to let me pay them a dime. Even when I protested.

I thanked them but it didn’t seem enough. Today was my chance.

Linda, the owner, was not there, but three of her staff were. As I found them one by one in the crowd, I showed them the shawl that had come of their generosity and gave them each an autographed copy of Wrapped in Comfort. Each one, independent of the others, asked to see what page it was on. They let me tell them what a difference they’d made to me and were delighted to take a fourth copy home for Linda.

Ran into old friends–including Jocelyn and Cris. Caught up a bit, had fun…

And noticed that one guy had been standing off by himself for awhile now and nobody was talking to him. Well that wouldn’t do, these things are supposed to be fun. Turns out he wasn’t a knitter. Turns out he was Michael, a businessman who was the husband of the Mrs. Crosby of Lorna’s Laces fame.

And as we talked, old friend and Green Planet employee Laura came by with a bag and offered me my pick. She worked the room and then came back towards me with another bag.

“It’s not my turn!”

She laughed. “Goodies for all! Take one!”

The first was a skein of Woolfolk from Blue Sky. The second was a bluegreen one-off dyeing of Shepherd’s Worsted from Lorna’s Laces, and I exclaimed to Michael over his wife’s beautiful work.

One brown hat and one bluegreen cowl as the next carry-around projects. (I had my oversized afghan project shoved halfway down into my tote, where it did not want to stay. It was a little ridiculous. But it did prove that I do like blues and greens together.)

And then the event was officially done and it was time to beat it home quick before the next downpour.

Shade Garden shawl
Sunday July 10th 2016, 11:13 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,Knit

Bigfoot came back tonight.

Now, in hindsight, there are a whole lot of better names I could have picked for that pattern, even if it amused me enough at the time to think it was actually a good idea. It was when someone told me, “Well, I can tell *you* have small feet” (and I do…) It’s been out there that way for nine years now and, um, oops. Sorry.

The longtime owner of the original brushed-kid-mohair shawl, the yarn dyed by Lisa Souza, told her sister (who delivered it since she lived closer) to tell me she loved it, she treasured it, but in our warm climate she simply never wore it–it made her too hot. She’d decided she was just finally going to ask would I mind? Was this okay? She was sure I could find the right person to re-gift it to and she really really loved it but it was a shame to have it just sit there.

(I couldn’t for the life of me have told you what I’d given her.)

Oh! Right! That one, the one that was actually in the book, dyed in Shade Garden colorway! Sure, I said, stroking its softness, although I might, y’know, actually keep it and wear it myself. Or not. We’ll see. Was it okay if I wore it?

That got me a laugh.

I’ll add a picture in the morning; we had a great visit and it’s late. (Ed. to add, there you go. And I would have given it to the sister who brought it back to me and let it stay in their family but she’s a redhead who does not wear purple.)

The Musk Ox Farm in Palmer, Alaska
Wednesday June 15th 2016, 11:00 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Family,Friends,History,Life,Lupus,Wildlife

Sam, a knitter herself these days, asked us if we wanted to see the musk ox while we were there? She’d never been.

Hey, couldn’t keep her from having that experience, right? And so Saturday we went to the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer and took their walking tour of the grounds.

Domesticating a species takes 250 years, they told us, and we’ve had 50 so we’re on our way but we’re not there yet–so please don’t put your hands past the fences.

(A few days later at a different farm we would be told, as reindeer walked freely among us and looked us in the eye while licking alfalfa from our hands, that the difference between caribou and reindeer was that the reindeer had been domesticated for about 250 years. Alright, I see where that number maybe came from.)

Parents were asked to keep small children close so as not to spook the animals into thinking small creature=wolf. On the flip side, when the man who set up the farm with its first set of animals 50 years ago was approached by a small dog, the musk ox had taken their human’s small size relative to their own as meaning he was defenseless and they closed ranks in a circle around him as they do to protect their young, horns pointing outwards and ready to charge the threat on his behalf.


The white along the tops of the spines of many of them: the guide said they weren’t sure but they think that’s to reflect the sun away during the summers so they don’t overheat.

The curves in their horns? Those tell you about how old the animal is. Short and stubby, you’ve got a young’un; the next year they start to turn forward, and at I think she said four you get those iconic half loops in front. Most of theirs have their horns trimmed to protect the humans but she pointed out this one old guy over there that had the full set.

Back in the museum/gift shop, my sweet husband was the one who picked up the musk ox-topped knitting needles and asked me if I didn’t need these? Then the grampa in him wanted me to take a soft little stuffed one home. And we couldn’t come all this way without some qiviut. We just couldn’t.

We’d just been told about the musk ox playing with a fifty-pound ball given to the farm after the oil pipeline had been built, y’know, something for the animals to play with or rub their backs on or something.

They’d managed to get it rolling down the hill, and bam! Right through the fence! Oops.

So for now, mine is playing with a ball. It’s a deep red. It’s a mere ounce, because I just could not bring myself to spend that much more money on yarn when a single ounce would make me just as ecstatic.

The book? While we were out in the fields (yay sunblock and hats and I’ve been holding my breath but no major flare yet) I’d asked them if they had it and explained that Donna Druchunas, the author, had been the text editor for my own knitted lace book.

They were delighted at the connection and told me enthusiastically, Oh yes! It flies off our shelves!

I had previously wondered what on earth was holding me up that I hadn’t already bought it. Now I know. It was waiting for me to support the husbandry of the very animals Donna had written about as well as Donna herself with that purchase. It was worth the wait.




Saturday May 10th 2014, 10:23 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,Knit,Life

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

An old friend. A message today out of the blue with a request for a copy of my book  for a friend of hers. A new address–wait. Katie! You’ve moved back to the area?!

Turns out an old friend of hers who lives across the country had inherited a house here and Katie is house-sitting for her while managing the fixing up of the place.

She showed me the sweater her friend had once made her and was pleased I wanted to show it off to you all: she knew I would understand why that friend needed to have my book in thanks.

Katie’s husband died some time ago and I planned to quietly tear up her widow’s mite of a check, but darn it, she insisted on paying me and she insisted on handing me cash and she allowed me to give her no discounts.  I tried.

The quick visit turned into several hours as she offered us homemade ginger molasses cookies and her little dog decided we were harmless and took a nap in front of the hearth. It was so good to see her.

And we got to see that magnificent old house. Eighty years ago, it was a spacious barn for drying a farmer’s apricots in: an open loft towered in view above most of the lower level, hemmed in at the edge only by sheets of added-on lucite maybe 18″ high. Not a place for a child and certainly not up to code. Yet. Add a barrier to falling there and at the stairs and call it good. Maybe divide that massive first-floor wall of a window across at waist level like we had to do years ago, but the contractor will let her know. We talked about how to do what needed doing without disrupting its sense of history.

The hanging lights were ornately crafted, from a very different era. Ironwork?

There were ancient willow trees out the windows, streams of small leaves dancing gracefully in the breeze. The furnishings, including a grand piano, spoke to Katie’s descriptions of the now-gone owners’ love of a good party dressed in one’s finery. In a valley full of the tear-down and the so-modern and the crowded, this was space and slow pace, a glorious home.

And it brought our Katie back near us for now.

Knit stuff
Monday February 03rd 2014, 10:15 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Knit

The pistachio buffalo blend. The lace pattern is from the Tara’s Redwood Burl shawl in my book. I’m guessing it’s their Skies yarn, not currently in stock.

The red hat is one strand Malabrigo superfine Finito in the calm Cereza and one strand Malabrigo Silkpaca baby alpaca/silk in a brighter red to add sparkle and near-worstedness to the gauge. Amazingly soft, both, done here in the Water Turtles lace.

And… Okay, the backstory is that we’ve had problems with our mail delivery for years. There’s a new guy on the route and I have high hopes for him.

The doorbell rang at about 6:00 pm, the mailman with a package to be signed for for Richard.

I smiled at him, “Isn’t there a blue package for me?”

No, no, just this.” (Oh wait! And he fumbled in his pouch.)

As he brought the familiar blue Colourmart funky-shaped plastic bag into sight, I exclaimed, “There it is!” He looked at it like how did that get in there? He turned it over to read the address while I noticed that the top of the bag had been slit wide open with the top of the cone of silk pleading, Save me AlisonKenobe, you’re my only hope!

The customs declaration said yarn and yarn indeed it was. I must be Alison. He relinquished custody and smiled and waved me good-day.

Tuesday October 08th 2013, 10:50 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Knit

The picture does not begin to do it justice, way too blue and too sedate–here, try theirs… (Running and Googling so I can link up.)

Well huh. I guess they don’t carry Gaia anymore. The grass colorway isn’t quite as deep but it’s the closest.

So what it is: I splurged on a single bright jewel-green 100g skein of shimmery worsted weight goodness at the Phydeaux Designs booth at Stitches West this past February: half silk, half Falkland Island wool. Which reminded me of our second apartment and our new and first baby and the Newsweek cover by the easy chair that read, The Empire strikes back.

Best-written headline of its day.

And then it bugged me that I didn’t know what to do with the yarn.

And then Sunday I did. My cowl is done–although, I’m thinking I need to undo that cast-off, it seems a little tight. (I didn’t break the last of the ball off yet.) Blocking would say yay or nay on whether it needs that, but I like the fabric as is so much that I didn’t block it tonight and just might not. (Or maybe that’s all inner code for, I’m done with it for the night don’t bug me.)

Let me see what the morning says.

Ava and Donna
Thursday September 20th 2012, 11:02 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,LYS

I was knitting away at Purlescence tonight, chatting with friends, and about a half hour into it Ava was standing behind me and got my attention.


She lives in Colorado. I’d totally forgotten she was going to be teaching a class here tomorrow; she’s shop-owner Sandi’s former mother-in-law and still Mom and friend forever. And she was to be teaching the class with–I mentioned as she and I talked that I would *so* love to meet–

–She’s in the back, Ava told me.

I exclaimed loudly, jumping: DONNA DRUCHUNAS was my TECH EDITOR for my BOOK!!! as I leaped to my feet to go back there along with one very happy Ava.

They’d been neighbors and knitting friends together where they live. (Donna just moved away last month, though.)

Donna greeted me with the hug I had so much for so long wanted to give her. We had long promised someday we would meet. We worked so much together via email on Wrapped; I told Ava, as we all chuckled, that at one point on the write-up of the how-to-knit-lace section at the front of the book, she’d emailed, puzzled, Do you really *do* that?

Me: Wait. Do you really do it that way?

Yes, we did. And her way and mine both work just fine. We had quite a laugh over that, six years ago and then tonight, all three of us.

Donna did a ton of work on that section. Those visuals? Hers. The charts that I cannot write nor work from due to a brain injury? She wrote them. There was a listserv for designers pre-Ravelry and she went on that list and proclaimed to the world of professionals in the knitting industry that she had never before tech-edited a book with zero errors in the instructions. Mine was the first. And then she told everybody they had to have that book.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I owe her. And I finally got to meet her. I am in awe of her, and I finally got to tell her thank you in person!

And to see Ava Coleman again, after her health struggles and mine since the last time we saw each other in person. She’s a generous, gentle woman I aspire to be more like.

Wow. What an incredible day. And it’s my mother-in-law’s birthday: celebrations all around!

A leap of fate
Saturday January 21st 2012, 12:50 am
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Knit,Wildlife

I was curious to see how the lace pattern from Tara’s shawl would look in a hat. One skein of worsted baby alpaca, 3.5mm needles, there you go. (I’m told Martingale now sells a pdf of the book; Purlescence has physical copies and ships, and I’d be glad to sign one if you don’t mind waiting till I get to Knit Night on Thursdays.)

And on the wildlife front.

Young squirrels don’t have object constancy before maturity. I have thrown a nut into a large flower pot as they’ve watched and they were unable to figure out it was in there. Come Spring and a year old, though, they will.

A clearly new-around-here young gray spent a fair amount of time today trying to figure out how to reach a treat I’d made quite inaccessible; then, having spotted what he thought was a good idea, he explored how to get to the top of the barbecue grill. Which was not close.

It seemed to throw him that it didn’t feel like a tree. He wrapped a paw around the leg. Didn’t like it. Finally, after many tentative steps and much scouting around that took quite some time (can you climb up inside a closed plastic pipe? No you cannot), he managed that little bit of rocket science leap by leap to the shelf and then, standing at last on the cold metal at the top, king of the mountain, he turned his head this way and that, taking a good look around.

That huge sugarpine cone full of suet and seeds was still dangling above the porch. Getting higher up, though it might fulfill an inner squirrel imperative, hadn’t gotten him one inch closer after all. Dang. But… But…! He’d worked so hard for it!

But then…wait…how do you get out of here? He seemed to have forgotten how he got up in the first place. Down was not an option from that height. He studied how far away the olive tree was, the fiberglass ladder (he’d clearly already figured out you don’t want to leap onto that.)  It was leaning against a lopped-off trunk we’d left for the woodpeckers. And there, over there there was nothing but grass.

He was stumped.

And then I happened to open the sliding door. He panicked and took a massive leap to the tree trunk near that ladder–eight, quite possibly ten feet away. I was stunned. He was at the downward part of the arc by the time he landed and scrambled up, but he made it. Olympic Gold! The crowd goes wild!

The Washington Post declared it squirrel week, asking for photos; included in there is a black one with the outer rings of its ears and the bottom half of its face bright white, so odd that I had to look closer to make sure it was actually a squirrel. There are many reminders there of why these little animals are so funny to watch.

Do the unexpected
Saturday December 10th 2011, 10:39 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,Knit,Knitting a Gift,Life

Part One.

I had no idea what the place was going to be like or even quite where it was going to be. Which was okay, I was going to be the passenger.

My friend Nina was taking part in a small–very small, as it turned out–holiday craft fair in Sky Londa today, immediately down the hill from Alice’s Restaurant.

Phyl was sure it was going to be held indoors and safe for my lupus, and it’s always good to see Nina, so up twisty Highway 84 we went.

Well, there were doors, that much turned out to be true: a stand-alone room of a building with the doors wide open and most of the crafty goings-on out in the fresh air, with Christmas trees over to the side being picked out and bundled onto cars, attracting people driving by to or from the coast. Come.  You see all these trees all around? Bring one home with you, pine-sized. Buy a handknit woolly scarf while you choose in the chill.

The sky was a dense fog, the ear-popping elevation not limited to the tops of the redwoods. I had on two layers of sweaters, wool knee socks, and a good wool hat. Nina was cold in a down jacket and thick hat and I realized that my heating-impaired house had gotten me more used to colder weather than I’d realized. (One site says it was 46F there today, one, a bit more.)

Checking the blog, it was Wednesday that that skein of Malabrigo Rios jumped onto my needles for no reason I knew of and just absolutely demanded that I knit it into a hat, and fast. NOW. And there seemed to be only one stitch pattern for it. That was that.

It wasn’t for my Christmas knitting queue, either. Don’t ask me how I knew that, but it just felt obvious all of its own. Well, huh.

So it got made. I knit it into the pattern that surrounds this blog, except done with yarnovers to make fern lace. I ran the ends in to finish it this morning right before Phyllis came to pick me up; whoever it was going to be for wouldn’t mind if I wore it just this one day, would they?

Ferns grow freely among the redwoods, the fronds echoing the green needles above; the Azules colorway echoed the California coastal sky, bright blue and foggy mixed together. With a touch of green. The ferns.

There was a seat just behind the window next to the door. After admiring Nina’s knitting for sale and visiting with a few friends, (side note for them: my brother Bryan’s Jeppson Guitars is here) I sat down there, figuring the glass would give me a little bit of UV protection on one side at least, pulled some yarn out from my purse, and started another hat while listening to a singer with his guitar who was seated in that room too and whose sound had drawn me in there in the first place.

I tell you, he was good. I looked around for signs of CDs I could write a check for but saw none.

Another man had told me there would be four musicians together later, and I’m quite sorry to have missed that but I can only be outside so much. But while I could be there, the one playing then, I could have listened to forever.

Yarn winding in time around wood as he played helped keep me warm.

I (in my sun worries) thought we were there about an hour and a half; Phyllis later guessed about 45 minutes. Judging by rows finished, she’s probably right. She came to me to say she was done just as I was finishing up a needle; okay, cool–and just as the musician finished his song and said what he was going to be playing next.

He had a blue canister with the word TIPS painted prominently in bright yellow.

I was standing up to go but turned to him instead, glad that I could say something without interrupting–the timing had come out perfect. I said very briefly I had no cash with me (much though I wished) and major home repairs waiting. But this I could do: Malabrigo. Some of the finest wool in the world. I had just knitted this (and I took off my hat). I had made it up as I’d gone along, and it is a woman’s, but I was sure he could find someone to give it to; “I want to throw my hat in the ring” to thank him for his music, and with that I put it in his tip jar.

The new warmth in his smile was like no one else’s.

Part two.

We were pulling out when I went, “The honey!”

“Oh, right,” answered Phyl, offering to let silly me pay her back later (I did) and she pulled off to the left to where someone was selling local honey across the side street.

He had blackberry! My favorite! I told the man I couldn’t go to the Kings Mountain Art Fair anymore where I used to buy it; too much sun time.

He asked if I were sensitive to the sun?

Turns out he and his doctor have discussed whether he had lupus on his arm. He seemed grateful to be able to say that to someone who knew what the word meant.

I explained there were two types, skin only and systemic. If he has it there, don’t let the word scare you.

He told me as we left, “You take care of yourself.”

“You too.” And I assured him that systemic notwithstanding, I’d had it twenty+ years; I’m doing fine.  He was visibly comforted.

Part three.

Costco run. I grabbed my piano hat on our way out the door. If I was able to stay warm enough on that mountain I didn’t need more than a hat thrown on down here too, right?

There was a woman in the store’s motorized wheelchair wearing a set-up that I recognized from when my son had knee surgery: her leg looked tinker-toyed. She was offered a sample of smoked salmon and wanted to buy some, but it turned out to be set on a shelf high above her head and the person giving the stuff out was too swamped with customers to notice.

But I did. “Do you want me to reach that for you?”

“Oh, yes, please! If you would.”

Now, I have spent my time needing that chair before. I know that people in wheelchairs like to browse too: like not just having help getting something down, but also like not being forced to buy it or stash it in the wrong place after looking it over simply because there is no physical way to get it back up high again, the helpful person by then long gone.

So I hung around the salmon a moment, just in case, thinking, browse away, hon.

She asked me if I were a pianist?

(I didn’t say, not like my concert-pianist grandmother nor my organ-performance-minor son, but) “Yes.”

She was too! She LOVED my hat! Wait–I’d *made* it?!

Hey (bring on the brag). I’d designed it.

I showed her the inside: how I’d wrapped the yarn across the backs of every single stitch so it wouldn’t have long lengths to snag on things. But that had made it so the black shows through the white keys a bit across the front, and for later hats, I’d gone with the long lengths. (The floats, to a knitter.)

I did offer to put the salmon back up if by chance she needed that. She loved that someone understood how it was to be seated.

However long later, Richard turned back to get one last thing for me and then we headed to the checkout. With him at the cart, he picked a line.

Which turned out to be next to that woman. Her young sons had joined her by then, one quite small, one maybe six or seven. I knew it couldn’t be easy to have Mom having a hard time getting around for awhile, especially if that’s a change.

I said a quick inner prayer, wondering. In response I felt this: could I re-create the hat? Sure, in a day, two, tops. Could I re-create this moment? Not on your life. And so while she was turned the other way I whipped my hat off my head, stepped over and tucked it into her cart just as she turned back.

She was stunned. “NO!” in disbelief. A delighted butbutbut.

May I?

She shook her head in how can I let you and joy and are you sure. Yes I’m sure.

She exclaimed some more and her older boy admired it and put it on his head. She told me he played violin.

“I don’t know how to knit a violin yet,” I laughed. (Thinking, but just wait…)

Her husband joined them right about then and the next thing I saw, all of them were laughing and happy, and then the older couple behind them in line were happy for them and admiring their hat and loving being at Costco right there right then.

I had been exposed to enough UV earlier to burn my cheeks and wonder what my T- (ed. to add, and B-) cells would do next. But as I once told my friend Scott, “Sometimes you just have to LIVE!”  I was hoping the Decembery conditions would be enough in my favor, but it was a risk and I knew it and I weighed it and I took it. Maybe, hopefully, I’ll be fine. Some things are worth what you pay for them. It was a day well spent.

But that very awareness pushed me to choose not to be selfish but to grab the moment given me to make that family happy.

As that musician had made me happy by the depth of that smile that had lit up his whole countenance. He, too, had played his part to help make it happen for them.

We all arrived of our own choices where we were supposed to be.

Nina’s talk
Tuesday July 26th 2011, 11:36 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends

Silicon Valley Women was presenting a talk tonight: it was to be given by my friend Nina of the shawl named after her. No way was I going to miss it.

Phyllis (of that story too) did the driving.

I was sure I was going to be the odd person out in the audience, though, out of a group like that; between my kids and then the limitations of illness, I never did step into the full-time other career I once thought I’d be well into by this point. I tucked a copy of my book (ie, a reach for a visible sign of success) in my knitting bag along with–hold on, I needed a mindless project to work on, what to grab, what to grab, okay, that one. Hand-dyed silk.

We arrived, Phyl and I took our seats, I cast on.

Nina spoke awhile and then went around the room, asking each person to talk a little about themselves, what they were doing, what they were hoping towards, coaching them on how to get there.

I knitted away.

I hoped the others didn’t mind the distraction. I thought again how I once thought I would never stay home with my children–till I had children. I once thought I’d be well into the next role of the working wife by now, certainly, till lupus etc got in the way. As the old joke goes, the way to make God laugh is to tell Him your plans.

In my case, He handed me yarn for the punch line.

I was not expecting to hear my younger self: a few younger women talked about how hard it was to put their old work world aside to stay home with their kids now while their little ones needed them so much. I knew that my choices and experiences of years ago offered validation for their current ones. This is not to argue working/nonworking, rather simply to affirm yet again that we are all in this life thing together.

Now it was my turn. Nina bragged on me. Bragged on my book, told them how it had come to do so well, what I had done right, and how cool it felt that her shawl was in it. She held me up as an example of doing what you love and the good will follow.

That praise in that place coming from someone who has lived the successful Silicon Valley executive life, who did the working-mom thing, who went back for a new degree mid-career like I never stayed well long enough to do–someone whose path has been so different from mine, but who is also my friend–that meant more to me than I expected.

Thank you, Nina.

I said that every mother of small children needs something that Stays Done. Another middle-aged woman in the room thought a moment and then laughed that yes, that’s true!

And at the end everybody wanted to see the book, one woman was going oh cool at learning that lace could be knitted as well as crocheted and another pointed out that the pattern (and to a lesser degree the colors) I’d been working on that whole time…

…matched the shawl on the cover of the book.

I did a doubletake.

I had not noticed at all.

Monday June 27th 2011, 10:07 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Family,Food,Friends,Knit

I bet you Sue knows what I’m going to write about tonight.

1. But before I get there, I knitted a little Camelspin on the side today in a sudden hurry to get that done yesterday.

2. Nope, no phone call today from the doctor, or at least not while I was home, and no messages were left while I was out foraging for chocolate.

3. My daughter had a co-worker who, last Friday, was having a horrible, rotten, no-good-I-think-I’ll-move-to-Australia kind of day. (That’s the refrain on most of the pages of a certain children’s book–just to make that clear since one person who’s going to be reading this has a loved one who *did* move to Australia and who clearly has turned out very nicely for it.)

4. So I offered to bake a chocolate torte for them. (Here’s the recipe.)

5. Tomorrow is that person’s birthday, it turns out.

6. Well then!

and, 7, since I always make two of them, and since today’s our anniversary, and since Michelle can’t eat dairy, I substituted hazelnut oil for the butter, coming about two tbl short out of two cups needed for two cakes–close enough. We’ll call it the low fat version. I can’t begin to tell you how heavenly it smells.

8. Richard and I are home now from going out to dinner so we might go cut into that second cake if I stop typing a moment.

9. We went to the restaurant where Sue works, hoping to see her; for those of you who’ve read “Wrapped in Comfort,” (still available at Purlescence) it’s the first story, and yes, that Sue. Nope, they said, wrong night, not here, sorry.

10. On our way out I explained to our waitress why I’d so hoped to see her: how, when we moved here we came here a lot while on a per diem the first month, and how 20 years later she still remembered what my then-small kids had liked to eat. She loved my kids and we all adored her.

11. At that point, a different waitress exclaimed, “She’s here now!” Sue and her husband had decided to beat the heat and go out for dinner too, coming to this really great place they happened to know really well.

12. Hugs, love, intro to her husband, and then Sue told him that our kids were the best ever. “Some kids in restaurants, you know, but yours were always perfectly behaved.”

13. They were just shy of 1, 3, and 5 at the time; I don’t remember them being perfectly behaved. But I do remember them as being perfectly loved around her. Every parent of a small child needs some other adult who feels their kids are adorable: it helps the children and it helps the parents, too, to all rise to the occasion.

Sue was there. Our occasion got even happier. She laughed to her husband about my four year old who liked lobster. (It was a moving-expense per diem, the corporation didn’t care in the least what she ordered as long as it was below $25. Come to think of it, four-year-olds ordering lobster several times a week because they miss New Hampshire would be memorable.)

14. Happy anniversary, Richard! With no skunks this time.

(If that one of the three budding amaryllises turns out to be white, I’ll know it was the one Sue dropped off at Purlescence for me back when I was sick. Thank you, Sue!)

Love you, Richard!

Aunt yarn
Tuesday June 14th 2011, 11:24 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends

I wrote in my book about my friend Lisa who, when I was diagnosed with lupus, offered to trade off babysitting our preschoolers every morning so I could do swim therapy and then she would go work out, a gift of her time I could never hope to repay–when all she had to do was put her toddler in his stroller and run if it had been only about the exercise.

Her little boy David used to religiously leave a toy or some small object of his at our house to make sure he’d be able to come back.  It took us awhile to catch on to him; it was such a funny little thing to do. And he did it just about every day he came over.

My husband’s aunt lives in the hills nearby and her youngest is two years older than our oldest, so we got frequent and very welcome hand-me-downs from her.

I would come across some stray whatever and wonder, where did *this* come from?! Must be an Aunt Mary Lynn that I just don’t remember. I would check with Lisa on the phone later, or David would reclaim it quietly the next time–and stash something else behind a dresser, under a bed, or whatever hiding place appealed to him that day.

The so-called Aunt Mary Lynn objects became a regular joke between us, and when Lisa and her family found they were moving to Michigan she lamented, But who there is going to know what an Aunt Mary Lynn is?

I drove over to meet Robin at her brother’s house today and we sat and knitted awhile together. Then after a phone call or two and some time meeting two small nieces waking up from their naps as their mommy arrived, it was a good time to go pick up Kunmi.

Going to the door, Robin had her hands full; I offered to grab her knitting for her, tucked in a plastic bag and just a few steps from me.

Sure, thanks!

I had my cane in one hand, my purse and big knitting bag in the other and then hers and decided the easiest way to deal with this was simply to stick her knitting in with mine.

We went off to Green Planet Yarns in Campbell (hi Carol there!) and had a great time. Robin found just the yarn for hats for those nieces: soft baby alpaca with sparkles. In pink. It doesn’t get better than that.

I came home quite tired. “Mom? What are those red spots on your face?” Lupus rash. A little too much sun. Time to take it easy for a day or two.

Robin and Kunmi’s flight home to Maryland leaves early tomorrow morning.

And I sat down on the couch, pulled out my knitting–

–you saw this coming–

–and out tumbled Robin’s Alchemy sock yarn and half-done project in its bag.

Aunt Mary Lynn yarn. This is a first.

(Richard told me I was too tired to drive it back over there and to just mail it to her; I called her, and she reassured me she was quite happy to knit those hats with that new yarn and not to worry about it.  Robin is a dear.)

So now you know she has to come back. It’s the rule.

Teasing my old friend back
Monday March 14th 2011, 11:28 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,Knit

Nina, whose Ann Arbor shawl graces my book (OOP but cover-price copies available at Purlescence), called today; she needed to stop by after work a moment.

During our short conversation, she decided instead to go home, grab her knitting–yup, got her addicted too now–and so we sat and chatted for about an hour, wondering why we didn’t do this more often.

I showed her Lorraine’s qiviut scarf and the little lace scarf I’d made out of one skein of the Arctic Blend. Ten bucks for a qiviut blend. It is lovely stuff.

Nina had the same reaction to Lorraine’s handiwork that I did: she immediately put it on and declared that wow, she felt like a million bucks. It looked smashing on her, too, she was absolutely right. Just her colors. I so wish I’d thought to take her picture in it.

I showed her the matching big skein of yarn, not yet knit, as all the Warm Hats stuff and baby blanket got ahead of it in the lineup.

Well now.  I could totally knit that gorgeousness up for her, she thought out loud. (With a grin.)

I explained that, editors willing, it’s to go in the next book.

She laughed, “You can tell stories on me again. After all these years, you’ve got lots of stories to tell on me!”

Wait–was that a hint?

Perfect pitch
Thursday February 03rd 2011, 12:39 am
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Family,Knit,Life

I finished my Abstract Fibers scarf, though it’s bleached here by my flash. There is no pooling other than what I created by how I laid it out.

And while I was knitting–221 yards’ worth of fingering weight this evening, the math side of my brain needed to figure out repeats vs repeats done tonight vs weight etc–I was listening to whatever random CD came up on the player. If the music keeps playing the needles keep dancing.

The album cut by the old high school jazz band started up.

Okay, I think I’ve mentioned this before, but… When my son Richard was in middle school, his jazz band teacher also taught jazz in the high school and he aspired to join that group in a year or two.  They won a place in the high-school jazz competition at Monterey, so we drove down there that Saturday to cheer them on–and they were good enough to be invited back later to play as professionals in the main Monterey Jazz Festival, thus that album. *That’s* what a great teacher can get kids to accomplish.

We cheered on the kids on another team that had driven in a bus all the way from Maine for the competition. Now that’s heart!

We later went to the end-of-year school concert too, and again they played a piece that I’d liked so much: Bedtime for Bigfoot. I think it was the one that had been written by one of the kids as an AP Music assignment and it was hard not to get up and dance to it on the spot–you knew those kids were having a ball when they played it.

Richard-the-younger and I did a quick grocery store run afterwards, and as we got out of the car I asked him to sing the first note of that song.

He nailed it. Perfectly on pitch. The kid is good, and I about burst with pride.

When I was naming one of my shawl patterns, it seemed only fitting that making a giant version of my Rabbit Tracks lace should be called Bigfoot by comparison.  It wasn’t till later that I realized why I loved the word so much.

A teacher who believed in his kids.

Kids who learned what they could really do.

A rocking, happy song that celebrates that.

And I bet you my son could still sing it starting on exactly the right note. And his new son is trying to tell us he could too, just let him get the talking thing out of the way first.

Maybe cane-abalize the plain old maple one
Monday November 22nd 2010, 11:33 pm
Filed under: "Wrapped in Comfort",Friends,Non-Knitting

Stepping away for a moment from the intensity of a new knitting project…

So. I have this cane. It’s made from sassafras wood, it’s spotted and hand carved and very cool, and my childhood friend Karen found it at a shop in Williamsburg, Virginia. (Yes–that is her on the left in the original Water Turtles shawl; new book copies available at the cover price+shipping at Purlescence.) I’ve used it as my main cane for five years now; I have to admit, the upper curve in the handle is looking rather well used by now.

Shown in the picture above, I have another one from Karen, who finds just the coolest ones, this one from Africa with painted animals on it and an ankh symbol for a handle: zebras, the perfectly-colored and -spaced spots of a giraffe, it’s got it.

Some small child got entranced with it at church recently and a zebra lost an ear.  It’s not very noticeable, except to me, but, so that one got put away for special occasions for its own good. Hearing aids for wooden horses are in short supply.

I went looking today out of idle curiosity, my local shop seeming to have gone to ugly aluminum only last time I checked, and where’s the artistry in that? I say, if it’s a permanent part of your life it needs to earn it a little bit.

And so I found someone who took an old cane and had fun with it. He steampunked it!  There’s a gear here, another few there, leather added to the handle, and, of all things, a lace-up black leather corset going up the shaft. It’s really, really cool! (But I can’t buy it without seeing if it’s comfortable with my hand leaning on that metal there, and I need  35″ and have no idea how long his is.)

I tell you. With apologies to my fellow knitters, this way beats the candy-cane stocking cover that every year about this time I start to daydream about knitting it for the season. Or maybe it’s just that that idea has lost its novelty for me by now.

Hmmm… How would you decorate one?