Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I gave my first official walks at Año Nuevo today. Everyone said that they'd had a good time, and we even saw a minutes-old pup. We were on our way to the last overlook when there was an explosion of gulls around the seals, which is the infallible marker of a birth. So the group before us saw the actual emergence of the pup, and it evidently made its appearance at exactly midnight, Spanish time, according to the Spanish guests on the tour.

I even got to do some knitting in between walks, the project I started to take to my knitting retreat this weekend. It's a raglan pullover in Artfibers Alfabeto, which is a silk-mohair blend, knit at a loose gauge. It's supposed to rain on Friday, but nothing like last year, I hope.

I wish you all peace and joy in the New Year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

From the archives

As you might expect, this is a house of handknit Christmas stockings. In fact, one of the very first things I ever knit was a stocking for my husband. It was back in the day when I didn't take into account things like different weights of yarn, and didn't know that there were two kinds of decreases that slant in different directions.

The heel and toe are twisted, because they're shaped with only k2togs. I think that all the stitches are twisted, too; I used to knit into the back loops. I was so proud of myself for figuring out a way to work intarsia in the round. I cut lengths of yarn, and I'd start using each in the middle, then use the second half on the following round.

And, of course, I charted the moose and the tree myself.

My mom had friend knit a stocking for my son, but, sadly, the friend died before my daughter was born. So I knit her a stocking myself.

Somewhere, I have a photo of two-month old Naomi in the stocking.

And then I had to make a stocking for my own self. I have one from my childhood, made just for me by my aunt. It's sewn felt, with a great dimensional Santa on it, and my name in glitter. But my mom won't give it up, and she's stopped bringing it up for me to use. So I used the lengthwise technique and made some colorful stripes.

I've just put a bunch of old winter knits in my Ravelry projects, too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We'll pretend that he is Parson Brown

As I was driving home from San Mateo yesterday afternoon, along 280, I was struck again by how inappropriate the usual white Christmas iconography is for California. Once the winter rains start (which, admittedly, was very late this year) the brown hills turn green. Winter is a season of birth and renewal here. By Valentine's Day, the plum trees are already in bloom.

However, today I've decided that we can celebrate a white Christmas after all.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Product vs. Process

I've got the bulk of my handknitted gifts done; it's so satisfying to see them all lined up.

First off is the sweater for my son.

It's very blue outside today; the colors are actually much brighter. I'm pleased with how this came out, having made my peace with the impossibility of preventing Lorna's Laces yarns from pooling. It has a tie-dyed effect, ¿verdad? I used one of the cool Riri zippers with the multicolored teeth

After I cast off the sweater, I grabbed a crochet hook and made a rainbow beanie.

(I'd forgotten about Mr. Glass Head until today's photo shoot.) This is for my best friend's son.

Then I decided that his sister could also use a crocheted hat, so I followed my own pattern for Balai. Fortunately, I didn't need to refer to the tutorial, but I had to refresh my memory of what I did at the color changes.

Since this is a Stash Reduction Christmas (mostly,) the gold yarn is leftover from the afghan our knitting group made for one of the people who makes our yearly retreat possible. The variegated was actually the oldest yarn in my stash. I bought two colorways of it in Siena in 1989, my second year of knitting. It was a Filatura di Crosa yarn, I'm sure, and I knitted an allover cabled sweater with these two colors of already-multicolored yarn. Way too much going on in that sweater. I never did wear it much. (I should point out that I was living in Tucson at the time as well.) But it looks nice in broomstick crochet.

I was going to make my best friend herself a pair of fingerless gloves, but I found a beautiful handmade wire bracelet at a local artisans' sale, so I knitted a little pouch to put it in.

And, finally, I finished my cashmere Fan Neckwarmer last night.

Again, it's not really that blue. This is going to my son's science teacher, who is a knitter herself, and my favorite person at the school. I love the reclaimed cashmere yarn; I'm trying to decide what fabulous thing I can make for myself with the 1 1/2 skeins I have left.

I'm not done with presents. I have a flannel shirt cut out for my dad, a pair of flannel pants to make for my son (a loud plaid to go with the loud sweater) a couple more cloth grocery bags for my mom, and then two more things to knit. A pair of fingerless gloves for another friend and something for my daughter's teacher. She wears handknit sweaters from her own mom, so she appreciates handknits, too. Luckily, only the teacher gift is that time-sensitive. People are coming here for Christmas, so I can be working feverishly until midnight on Christmas Eve if necessary. I'll let you know.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Unlike gloomy today, yesterday was beautiful. We all went to Año Nuevo.

My kids probably won't stand for going on a real guided walk, once the breeding season starts, so we went at our own pace. I gave a bit of my spiel, but I certainly need to work on it more before I give my own mock walk at graduation on Saturday.

We did see an alpha bull.

He was breathing through his nose and making it shake like jelly. He also scratched his flippers together, looking like a 5,000 lb Mr. Burns. The seaweed he's lying on was the stankiest thing I've smelled at Año Nuevo, and that's saying something.

I've put an elephant seal widget under all the patterns in the sidebar; we'll see whether it gets updated as the season progresses.

One of my fellow docents in training is also a very near neighbor, and, while it is technically correct to say that we've been carpooling, it is more accurate to say that she's been driving me back and forth these past three months. As a thank you, I'm knitting her an elephant seal scarf.

I must have spent at least six fruitless hours trying to construct a chart for this first attempt at shadow knitting. And yet, once I took up needles and yarn, I realized that I could just follow a regular two-color chart, that the complexity was misleading. He's a little elongated, my alpha bull, but I think he's pretty cool. My kids were gobsmacked by the appearance of a seal from the unassuming stripes.

And, since it's now officially the festive season, I've got another project on the needles, too. This is the Fan Neckwarmer, using Ellie's Reclaimed Cashmere, as advertised.

And I won't haul it out right now and take another photo on my messy desk, but the slip stitch sweater for my son is almost done.