Gosh, I could have had a baby by now…

That is, if I wasn’t WAY past having babies. But it’s been longer than that long since my last post.

I haven’t forgotten about posting – it’s just been basically impossible. So many reasons, but mostly tied up with my mom, and her house, and her bills, and her incredibly strong wish to return to “my home, my church, my friends, my town…” I think I say that little litany in my sleep now, since it is mentioned at least every other time I speak to her.

Note to Self: Try to plan for your old age, and if you can’t do that, at least try to keep your sense of humor about it. Understand that things aren’t going to be exactly the way you want, that your body isn’t going to work exactly the way you want, and that there probably isn’t going to be enough money. RIGHT NOW, practice keeping your face in a smile, because if it’s used to being frown-y, that’s probably where it’s going to go when you’re turning inward and homeward. If life gets smaller, make sure you make yourself as happy as you can in that smaller place.

Please understand, I don’t mean to criticize my mom – I’m just worried that I’ll go down that road and forget the things I’m observing right now. (I think my daughter might be a little worried about it, too…). As hard as this stage of life is right now, it could be SO much more difficult; we are really lucky in several ways, which I won’t enumerate because I’m a bit superstitious and not looking for trouble. As for my daughter, I just continually remind her that when I’m very old, and living in a yurt in her back yard, she must never make me knit with bad yarn.

Even though I haven’t been able to actually write a post, I have been watching the stats on my blog, and I’ve learned something interesting: Aside from the times when I write a comment on the Yarn Harlot’s blog (God, I love her!), or the few others I follow (Agujas, The More the Messier, A Verb for Keeping Warm), apparently the most interesting thing to anyone out there who’s clicked here is – matching self-patterning socks! Second to that, the Hitchhiker scarf. I find this fascinating. First, that searching for those terms would actually lead anyone here, and second, wondering whether anyone actually got any help from my babbling about the socks.

Anyway, it’s gratifying to see that people in many countries also had questions about matching self-patterning yarn.

I have knitted through this last few (okay, dozen) months, throwing myself into lace shawls, a giant Hitchhiker made with a gorgeous Yowza Whatta Skein from Miss Babs – wish I could tell you for sure which color it is, but I lost the band. I think it’s called “Believable.” Bought the skein at Stitches West in Santa Clara. On the way home on the train, I decided to just QUIT trying to conquer the Color Affection, set it aside, and hand-wound the Miss Babs. (That’s an accomplishment in itself!). It was actually a joy to knit the Hitchhiker, but at the time I began this post, I hadn’t had occasion to wear it yet. Didn’t quite know how to drape it (it’s BIG), and the weather was too warm here anyway. I was looking forward to fall and the opportunity to wear it, and Holden, and my Pilsner Pleated Scarf. And the little number that is pictured up top.

Pilsner Pleated Scarf. Ewetopia

Pilsner Pleated Scarf. Ewetopia

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Hitchhiker, Miss Babs Yowza Whatta Skein. LOVE THIS YARN!

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Holden! All those picots! And I met a new friend on Instagram when we both posted photos of Holden the same week…

My conscience says I have to admit that I hadn’t blocked the Pilsner Pleated Scarf when I originally wrote this post, with the sheepish explanation that for at least two months I had no living room floor because there were about 20 boxes of my mom’s stuff that had no place to go. Why should this matter, you ask? Because that’s where I block everything. I spread out a piece of gingham yardage and lay the wet finished object on it, using the gingham pattern to align edges, and pin through the (shag!) carpet and padding. I am very interested to see what this has done to the floor when I finally prevail and we remove the carpet to expose the old, probably ugly and pieced-together hardwood underneath. A few blocking pin scratches will likely be the least of our worries.

Still, there were a lot of Actually Finished Objects here waiting to be Actually Worn. Which brings me to what I suppose is a problem for many knitters as selfish as I (me? I?…). I have LOTS of knit objects, because I have a very hard time letting go of things to which I’ve given a lot of time and effort (y’know, kind of like, say, children). And I live in Northern California, which, while not as relentlessly sunny as SoCal, is still considerably more temperate than a lot of places. I see that our beloved Yarn Harlot speaks of her knit items being “in the rotation” – perhaps that’s the answer, and as soon as it gets even just a bit cooler here, I now make a concerted effort to Actually Wear my Actually Finished Objects. And maybe this year I’ll start knitting things that can be worn in warmer weather.

And I should probably mention that I finally finished and have actually decided to frog the Color Affection. It’s huge, and out of scale even to itself because I messed with the pattern and now it’s just a massive (really, massive) disappointment. I’m not even at the “maybe someday…” point with this thing. Sad – lots of money and time and frustration in there. At least I can reclaim the yarn and make something nice with it. Knitting is wonderful in that way!

Unblocked, HUGE Color Affection. Yuck.

Unblocked, HUGE Color Affection. Yuck.

Currently on the needles:

Yorkshire Shawl, a Purl Bumps Design, in Sweet Fiber‘s Sweet Merino Lite (Tea Leaves). Bought this at Stitches West as well. The yarn is delicious. I was trying to make myself work from the chart, got through the set-up chart and one set of 20 rows, but suffered terribly. Lots of time in the Tardis, tinking and re-knitting, not making much progress. Now I’m working from the written pattern, but I’ve set it aside for a bit because there were some hard feelings.

For therapy, noodled through a pair of toe-up, two-at-a-time socks of indeterminate pattern and nothing fancy – of course, had to re-learn everything and adjust for not having a real pattern to reference. Using a Patons Kroy Sock FX, very lovely, in Cascade Colors. Forgot my own instructions to buy 3 skeins of this yarn for 2 socks, but am keeping a good thought. I like to do a funky color on the toes to offset that issue, but the toes were first and it’s too late now! So if it comes to it, there might be a funky color at the top instead. Knitting Nazis, shut up.

(Update – finished the socks, they’re ridiculously long. I’m confused.) (OH… now I get it. Used a bigger needle. Socks fit, but they aren’t nearly as cushy comfy as the pair I knit with 2.75 needles, and they are WAY long. I can actually feel the stitches when I wear them. Boo.)

LONG, kind of uncomfortable socks. Pretty, though... ;-)

LONG, kind of uncomfortable socks. Pretty, though… 😉

And, so excited to add this – finished my first Swirl, Winter Waves, in Mayhem, a lovely Yowza Whatta Skein (about 3.5 of them, actually) from Miss Babs. This was a Christmas gift for my daughter, but was surrendered to her as soon as it was blocked and finished. It took me a little more than a month to knit it, and I absolutely love the way it came out. It looks incredible on her; starting my own now. This is a LOT of knitting…

Swirl the First... Snuggly!

Swirl the First… Snuggly!

Between finishing her Swirl and Christmas, I did two Travelling Woman (Women?) shawls for my sisters-in-law who were coming for Christmas. One in a lovely merino from FishKnits, the other in beautiful Grace cotton from Patons (for the dear lady who is allergic to wool). And I think I’ve found the answer to my issues with the chart on the Yorkshire Shawl – my husband gave me his small magnetic dry-erase board, which I used to hold the charts for Travelling Woman – with a long straight magnet that shows me the row I’m working. Yes, I know I can buy one of these several places online, but this was so perfect, and “free”! And a total revelation – loving lace knitting, now! (Picture me smacking my forehead, please).

Travelling Woman #1, Merino, FishKnits

Travelling Woman #1, Merino, FishKnits

Cotton, Grace by Patons

Travelling Woman #2, Cotton, Grace by Patons

Then there was a last minute inspiration for a hat for my niece, and subsequently another like it for my nephew in shades of brown.

Copied from a baby hat my niece posted on Facebook... So cute on her!

Copied from a baby hat my niece posted on Facebook… So cute on her!

And then, because you can’t leave anyone out (except my daughter’s boyfriend, because of the “knitting for the boyfriend” curse, and my husband, because he understands) – two after-the-fact hats in a color-of-their-choosing for my brothers.

Black and Navy held together

Black and Navy held together

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Chunky Walnut

Done and mailed on 1/6 – Twelfth Night, so technically, on time for Christmas?

If you’re reading this (thank you!) from somewhere terribly cold and snowy, I apologize for the gorgeous sunny day the outside photos were taken (today!). Please understand that our record-setting beautiful weather here in Northern California is actually a pretty bad thing right now – we’re in the middle of a terrible drought, our lakes are drying up, and water rationing is right around the corner. Would love a little bit of rain/snow, the sooner the better…

Happy to have had the moment to catch up – hoping to be more regular with posts. Probably should calendar an annual one about matching self-patterning socks just to keep the readership going!

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Well, Hello There!… again…

It’s been a long time coming, this post. I’ve been distracted by a number of things, most especially the need to address a health crisis of my mom’s – she is 88, and we’ve come to a point where she just can’t live all alone in the home she loves, but where none of her kids are nearby.

Yeah, I suppose it could be argued that it’s partly our fault – we followed our lives to places hundreds, even thousands of miles away, but they are our lives, and that’s where they are. We’ve been suggesting strongly for several years that it would be great for Mom to live nearer to one of us, but y’know, ya can’t tell ’em anything. Wanted to have her close by before it became impossible for her to live alone…

Well, it came to that point at the end of October, and it took till just before Christmas to find her a place near me that would take her kitty, too. This group-home, residential-care-world is a whole new thing to me; amazing how many there are, amazing how regulated and yet still so different, amazing the range of abilities/disabilities/attitudes of the residents… I know for certain that I could never, ever run one, but I do have some opinions about the ones I’ve seen so far, which I’ll save for another day. Along with the story of transporting a 14-pound cat in an airline-approved carrier far better suited to a gerbil-sized pet. (He appears to have forgiven me.)

So Mom is here now, about 7 miles away instead of 800. There are definite advantages in this, but there are also some extra constraints on my ability to blog, to knit, to just contemplate projects, or my navel, or whatever… I wake up in the middle of the night and fret about things like when is the new supplemental medical insurance going to kick in, have we done the right thing, what if, how come… And still, it’s great to know that I’m going to take her to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit tomorrow – I’m going to find her a place to get a pedicure and take her there soon – we can take her out to dinner once a week – I can go with her to her medical appointments and be her advocate – there are things we can do now that she’s so close that we just can’t do when it means a 12-hour drive or getting on an airplane.

I just wish she’d stop saying she’s going home next month. But she’s determined… And ya can’t tell ’em anything.

On the knitting front, Christmas has come and gone. Photos of the things I made for Christmas:

A manly pose for some manly mitts...

A manly pose for some manly mitts for my nephew… (“Hulk LIKE puny human’s baby alpaca Aire mitts! SOFT!”) (I think Devyn is a natural hand model, don’t you?)

And the lovely feminine mitts for his lovely lady...

And the lovely mitts for my nephew’s lovely lady… And yes, the single stripe was intentional. Mostly.

Love this infinity scarf, and the niece who received it. Here modeled by my darling daughter.

Love this infinity scarf, and the niece who received it. Here modeled by my darling daughter.

Lovely blend of silk, merino, and cotton - fiddly to work with, but great drape. And it's very long for my lovely tall great-niece!

Lovely blend of silk, merino, and cotton – fiddly to work with, but great drape. And the scarf is very long for my lovely tall great-niece!

It's subtle - do you see it?

It’s kinda subtle – do you see it? There’s one on each end of the scarf. Grafting. Ick.

I do love knitting things for other people. I love the whole process of deciding what they might like, of making something especially for a certain person based on something about them. I love the feeling of thinking about them, of wishing happiness for them (maybe it’s even like a prayer) with every stitch. Especially for those who may have been having a rough time, I hope they somehow feel all the love that is knitted into their scarves, mitts, hats, etc. It’s my way of sending a hug, a pat on the back, an encouraging smile. I hope they “get it.”

The blue scarf’s subtle pattern is adapted from Knitty for Dr. Who’s dishcloth pattern. The other two scarves were my own creations – the infinity scarf did seem to take infinity to complete, but almost every knitting project has those moments – the mitts I love because hey, NO THUMBS! I also did some mittens for my mom in the baby alpaca Aire – so soft, so warm! But I forgot to take a photo… And I whipped out four pairs of (thumbed) mitts for my niece, her husband, son, and sister-in-law – also forgot to take photos, but they were remarkable mostly because they didn’t get them till January 21. For my great-niece, I made a slightly different pair, based on a character she uses in her animation:

Harley's giraffe mitts!

Harley’s giraffe mitts!

And for my cousin Karen, who has gone so far above and beyond for me and my mom and the rest of the family, I made a Hitchhiker that I hope perfectly matches her coloring and her suede jacket… Each stitch of this beauty (I’m pretty proud of this scarf, actually) represents a thank you and a blessing. And I’m not one to throw blessings around willy-nilly.

Sadly, there's no way to crop out my baby-blue camo pj's and still see the lovely 42 teeth...

Sadly, there’s no way to crop out my baby-blue camo pj’s and still see the lovely 42 teeth…

Finally, my niece who is an actor was in “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” at Madison Square Garden this Christmas season (cool!!!). While I was doing mitts, I was inspired by her costume and made her these:

Mitts a la Trixie..

Mitts a la Trixie Who…

Currently, I’m working on my first pair of toe-up, two-at-a-time socks. Got them about halfway done and realized they were gonna be way too big for a human, and I also probably wouldn’t have enough yarn to get past turning the heel… Pulled them out and started over. Upside of that is that I think I really know the Judy Becker magic cast on now. Brilliant! Love the yarn, it’s the stuff I bought from Fishknits back at Lambtown (seems so long ago!) – the color is Forest Creek, Strong Heart 2-ply fingering weight.

Love self-striping yarn!

Love self-striping yarn! Love the YO-K2TOG little holes, too!

My daughter is coveting them, which makes me happy… and will probably eventually make her happy, too, when I give them to her. Because that’s what moms do.