Birthday

Saturday was my birthday – not a big “milestone” birthday (that was last year). I went up to my cousin’s on Friday midday to beat (mostly) the weekend traffic thought the Bay Area, and we hung out a bit before heading out to a cute movie called The Biggest Little Farm. It’s an independent movie with that will help you feel good about the world and has beautiful photography as well:

The plan was to have pedicures with Marie and her daughters the next morning, but one of them got sick and needed to stay home to rest. So it was three of us getting pedicures, and we each chose a fun color!

Then Marie and I went to the grocery store and we got a few more things – it was a small casual lunch that we had, given schedules and sickness. Marie had left up the decorations from Lu’s birthday party a few weeks ago, so I too had a pirate-themed birthday!

The decorations worked with a little editing:

If I have a Power Rangers party when I turn 70, you’ll know why!

As the afternoon wore on, I realized that there is a special perfection to a quiet celebration. We explored the back yarn with Lu

and we blew out the candles on the chocolate cupcakes:

One could say that nothing happened, but that would be wrong. We spent unrushed time with each other and enjoyed a beautiful day.

It was the perfection of letting things unfold and not forcing a particular kind of celebration.

And while all of that was happening – my Facebook friends sent a lot of greetings too – from growing up days, college, Washington D.C. seminary, online friends, clergy and knitting friends. I am not thrilled about Facebook for a whole bunch of reasons, but this is one of the good things it provides!

 

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Third Time’s the Charm

No matter how long I knit, I make the most basic fundamental mistakes. The major difference from when I was a beginner is that I know when things are off, and either figure it out myself, or ask for help.

This past week was a reminder that the best thing about knitting is that you can rip it out and start over.

Project: Drunk Knitter’s MKAL

This is a shawl project of a certain unknown shape that is from something that someone in Game of Thrones might wear. Since I don’t watch the show, it’ doesn’t matter to me. The project is knit in brioche stitches, and uses the terminology from Knitting Fresh Brioche by Nancy Marchand and since I’ve knit this scarf from the book,

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I figured it wouldn’t be too bad.

The first two clues went well. Here’s what the first clue looked like:

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I knit the third one and my first problem was that I ended up with 43 stitches instead of 45 at the end, which meant I had started with 43 stitches. I mean, really, I didn’t even pick up the right number of stitches. Okay. Rip it out.

I knit the indicated section the second time, and have 45 stitches at this point:

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Which means starting the fourth clue should have been quite easy. As I started to knit it, though, I realized that nobody else’s projects had this quirky cross in it:

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I read the fourth clue’s directions, and I was following them to perfection, so I posted on the thread on Ravelry and asked for help. Within the hour, another knitter responded by telling me that I had knit the third clue incorrectly  – I had used the wrong stitch. And she was totally right! Which meant I had to rip things out again for the third clue and start over.

Today things are looking good, I’ve reknit the third clue

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and my foray into the fourth clue looks correct and I’ve ploughing through clue 5:

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I hope I can finish this with the rest of the MKAL knitters. But who knows what other error I may introduce into this project? Stay tuned.

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FO: Peanut

One of the joys in our extended family is that we have a new baby in our clan, little baby Lu. He’s simply adorable and funny and sunny and it makes your heart glad when he gives you a dazzling grin.

We celebrated his birthday on Saturday, and there were lovely decorations, and happy family members, and we had cake and he loved it.

There were also some presents – mostly things he needs like shirts and shorts, but also his aunt and uncle went all out and got him a dinosaur car and he’s already smitten.

As the designated knitter, I decided to do a small thing, since summer is coming and he won’t really need much knitwear. I knit him a vest, and put cats on it.

The pattern is called Peanut and it’s from a small booklet by Tin Can Knits called Max and Bodhi’s Wardrobe, with some fun small boy patterns. Peanut has a snowflake on the front and the back, so I substituted the “cat” pattern from the Alterknit Stitch Dictionary which is quite fun. My project notes on Ravelry here.

 

This is a pre-blocked photo, and somehow I don’t seem to have post-washing photos – it looks a lot better than this!

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Accessorize

Spring is coming – tomorrow we’ll be getting a day in 80’s which will be fun, even though we expect it to only last a day.

Which leads me to think about knitting in warmer weather – out go the heavy sweaters and the like. In come small projects and lighter yarns.

My selection of bed socks has been declining as some socks need to go out of rotation, so I used the impressionist yarn I bought in San Francisco for a simple pair of bed socks – just a 2×2 rib because the yarn is so pretty!

 

And my pastoral colleague Gerardo has had issues of getting wet while delivering food in our open pantry, so I made him a simple hat out of super wash merino yarn. I really like how it came out – it’s the Citrus Hat with a bunch of modifications in stitch count, length, etc. 

 

But wait, I’m not done. I’m currently working on a mystery KAL with Safiyyah aka Drunk Knitter. I started following her after a lot of the discussion on racism in knitting, and she’s lovely – she can handle talking about this stuff and then also is a fun knitter too. Her MKAL is related to Game of Thrones, and I was going to pass on it, and then Jasmin from the Knitmoregirls posted about supported these new voices, and I realized that I could do the project with stash yarn, so let’s go for it, even though I do not watch this show (weak on violence, sorry gang).

If you want to check out the MKAL go here: hashtag #dkmkal on Instagram.

This is my yarn wound, it’s a brioche project, and she’s done the homework to explain the concepts, has videos, etc, and is following the threads on Ravelry closely. I appreciate her attention to things!

So I’ll be good on accessories, well, actually I’m looking at knitting myself a hat in the Snapdragon pattern by Ysolda. In my defense, I lost my blue hat on my last trip!

But I also have a bunch of yarn that was intended for a Romi sweater until I came to my senses and realized I didn’t want the end result. Now I just want to knit a striped cardigan, so I’m looking for a pattern to adapt.

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Waiting for Spring

Here in San Jose at Casa del Revknits, we are enjoying the last weeks of winter, such as it is in the Bay Area – by which I mean it’s been in the 60’s and raining. Some folks are really ready for warmer weather, while I am happy to wear my sweaters and socks and have all the rain we possibly can. This is the usual for the Bay Area, but there’ve been so many years of drought we’ve forgotten that.

My friend Nhien went home, and I haven’t told you the new thing that she is learning. She wanted to do some stranded knitting, and since she was with me, we went to the yarn store and got yarn.

We decided on a cowl pattern that is stranded knitting in the round (because definitely no purling) and it wouldn’t be a huge project. The Helix Cowl (Ravelry link) is in a book I own, so that worked. And teaching Nhien taught me something – prior skill sets help. Nhien took to chart reading like a duck to water because her career is in textile design – so thinking in color with charts is something she has done in other fields. I tell you, she blew through the Helix chart so quickly it took my breath away, and we could focus on the tension and how to hold the yarn parts! I’m going to ask her to send a photo of her progress, I’m sure she’s doing well.

Since she left, I was in a knitting funk, so I knit a bunch more knitted knockers,

and now I’m knitting some sleep socks for me out of yarn I got at Imagiknit. I love the melange quality to the colors – we remind me of the Monet paintings:

Now I’ve got to do some swatching and the like for the child’s vest I want to make!

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When Knitters Visit

My friend Nhien visited me this past weekend. She’s a knitter and a long-time family friend, and we had the best time.

The plan was simple, knitting and art for a couple of days. It couldn’t have been simpler. She arrived and we went immediately to my LYS – Green Planet Yarns, who are good folks and helped us pick good yarn and even wound Nhien’s skeins for free.

That evening we got together with Dianne, a member of my congregation who also knits, and we had a meal at my house so we could knit, of course. Such fun!

On Friday, we had a new adventure – we took Cal-Train into the City (San Francisco)

to see Monet: the Later Years at the de Young Museum. And I learned how to do Lyft for the day (more on that later).

The train left and arrived right on schedule and we caught a Lyft to the museum, which is located in Golden Gate Park, next to the Japanese Tea Garden and amid buildings and gardens created for the 1894 California mid-Winter Exposition.

 

There were a LOT of paintings – and many that were done in a series – so you could see five paintings of the same view done for different times of the year, for example. I had visited Giverny in 2016 when I went to Paris, and it definitely took me back to that wonderful day. A couple of paintings looked like my photos

 

Because one impressionist is not enough, there was also a Gauguin exhibit in the same building:


Which was fine and I would have thought it a really good exhibit except we had just walked out of the Monet exhibit. Also, he was a jerk – he left his wife with five children to raise while he lived out his passion to paint, and basically had affairs with native women on the Pacific Islands he lived on and left them to raise his children.

After a tasty lunch, we hopped over to a wonderful yarn store near the Mission and Castro neighborhoods – Imagiknit. I found a new-to-me designer:


and a lot of fun color to enjoy, which was all the better for having seen world-class art before lunch:

We might have bought some yarn:

And then it was time to head to the train station where we caught the “bullet” (express) train back to San Jose.

All through this, Izzie and Brandy were happy to have company.

About Lyft: I know this is the “sharing economy” etc, but here are some things to know: none of these alt-cab companies can make a profit – the costs are too high and what they can charge is too low. Lyft recently cut the rates for its drivers, some of whom are striking. They went public and already the stock is below the initial IPO rate. Basically, the drivers are going broke (their car is basically at ATM machine giving them cash while the car is used up). I gave very good tips because I think it is bad news, and will try to never use this exploitive type of service again.

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Reconnecting and a New Tool

Back in town this month for our monthly gathering of Knitted Knockers of Silicon Valley. I love these gals, they are fun, but care about the world, and they have gotten to know me and all my idiosyncrasies.

I turned in some Knitted Knockers (38 knit for this year so far):

got some new yarn, and had fun with our group:

 

I’ve been working on the Phobos scarf, and like most simple knits, I managed to screw up somewhere and have to rip out several inches. Despite this, it is coming along well:

One item that I decided to get (even though the Revknits budget has been blown by unexpected vet bills, my vacation, and tax stuff), is something simple but really useful. It’s a square swatch gauge by Akerworks:

 

The gauge has little teeth at the corners to help it stay on knitted fabric, and having it clearly helps orient it. Measurements are in both metric and english systems. I think this is going to get a lot of use!

Weather-wise, it has been a great season to wear my knits, and I’m working on a small hat for little Lu – but whether he will get to wear before fall is questionable – the weather is expected to reach 70 today!

Our rain has done wonderful things here in the Bay Area, and having beautiful camellias in bloom around our apartment complex is one of them:

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No Stitches West for Me

This year, I had intended to go to Stitches West for the day to hang out in the marketplace and see some knitters and vendors. Unfortunately, unlike past years, it was not to be. I had gotten sick, and then my cat Brandy got pretty sick, so I had to use my energy and funds to help her recover (she has!).

Before Stitches, I had heard Jasmin from the Knitmore Girls podcast say, “I really don’t need anything,” and that’s how I feel right now about all my yarn – I have a LOT of yarn, pretty much all the necessary tools – although I may order some swatch-measuring tools that look useful. I have over 2,000 patterns in my Ravelry library, a shelf of stitch dictionaries.

So in the end, missing Stitches this year was about not getting to socialize with the knitters and see what was new and fun. Given the circumstances, it was the right call, and my knitting has not stopped because of it.

So what is cooking in Chez Revknits, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

First, I saw that @Ysolda had put out a new scarf pattern that was from one of her clubs last year, called Phobos. As I looked at it more closely, I realized that the custom yarn that Ysolda had made for it was very similar to a yarn from the 2015 shawl club (the Crockern Tor shawl) I had participated in, and for which I had purchased an extra skein because I really liked the yarn so much. It’s a British yarn with wool and Zwarbles, and it’s woolen spun lace and just so lofty. I think it is very similar to the newer Ysolda yarn, and the same yardage.

Praying I could find it:

And then I just purchased the pattern online, and away we go!

The beginning is a bit fiddly and complicated, but soon the pattern emerges, and there is a satisfying long stretch of “cruise” knitting where you don’t have to think very hard.

I am also wanting to get back to my idea of a very cute vest for the very cute little boy in our family. There’s yarn colors to use and some basic swatching. Time to dig deep and figure this little garment out!

Finally, last night I was texting with my friend Nhien about making plans for getting together, and she mentioned that she had just finished the wash, and had six pairs of handknit socks that I had knit for her husband Curtiss. Sweety that she is, she sent me a photo of the stack:

Curtiss is most appreciative of the hand knit socks, they are his favorite ones to wear! By my projects page, I’ve knit 8 pairs, one each year, and it’s pretty impressive that 6 are still ok to wear!

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Lost knits: to replace or not?

It happens to every knitter – a hand-knit item goes astray.

Sometimes a lost knit is a heartbreaking one, like the scrap shawl I made from all the fingering weight yarns I had used:

But other times it’s not a big deal. I lost a hat at the very beginning of my last trip (I blame having to get up at 5 am in the morning). There’s no good photo of it because was knitted in the pre-Ravelry days. It was a VERY warm hat – it was doubled Cascade heather yarns, with a fun decorative yarn for the edge of the brim.  I live in Northern California, and there’s very little need for amazingly warm hats. So I’m letting that go.

A few days after I came back I went up to visit my cousin Marie, who was a little ashamed to admit that she’d been on a walk with her daughter and grandson, and they had put a cowl into the stroller, but it had fallen out and gotten lost. It was this one:

Now this was indeed a lovely cowl made out of Lux Adorna Fun Size Bundle – cashmere! She wears it a lot too. Fortunately for Marie, I happen to have bought another bundle about a year or two back while I dipped into Imagiknit as I was passing through – as one does, right? When I got back home, I found it, and started to think about how this one might be designed.

The original one that I knitted for Marie added more stripes to the chevrons, because I could see how the contrast would get punched up by doing so. This little bundle has softer colors and less contrast,

so I did the Lila pattern just as printed

and I think it turned out great!

The replacement cowl got knitted very quickly because I got sick – a bad cold that kept me out of the office for a few days, and the cowl was about as much knitting as I was able to contemplate. In addition, poor Brandy was down with a kidney infection:

at the vets and not happy

She was so weak that I took an improvised kitty bed in the living room and snuck a heating pad into it so she could sleep and be warm, but apparently Izzie had other ideas about who this bed was for!

What, you mean this wasn’t for me?

Having now knit another Lila out of the Fun Size Bundle, I decided it was time for me to get one too – and all the color ways have changed over the intervening years, of course. So I decided to go on Ravelry and find an older color way that someone was willing to sell, and I did!

Which was a lovely thing. Even though Stitches West was a light-rail ride away, I was too sick and accumulating vet bills, so that was not in the cards this year. Fear not, the stash is there and I have plenty to knit with, as I’ll explain in the next post!

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On the other side

So, I went on some trips, and then I got sick. Sorry that it’s been so long since I’ve posted!

Along the way I saw awesome sunsets from the plane

Finished a cowl on the plane and then got to wear it then and there – CoPilot in Knitpicks Capretta

Learned some stuff in Princeton, where I lucked into a warm-up so I didn’t need the hat that I lost before I even got to the airport.

And then flew across the country to see figure skating in Anaheim

There was sun and palm trees

and snow on the local mountains

The skating was amazing!

And then I got to see family friends that I haven’t seen in way too long.

When I returned, I dove into work, and then got sick and have been at home the last three days, which has been odd, because that hasn’t happened in a while. Tomorrow (probably today by the time I post this) I’ll be well enough to work at home and go in for a bit, because the work doesn’t stop.

It turns out that the Recoleta sweater was the perfect garment to wear on the trip – thick enough to keep me warm, lacy enough to wear inside, a good layering piece. I wore it almost every day, but still have not got a shot of me wearing it yet.

The CoPilot cowl was also good – it’s another light piece that layered well, especially in a cold arena.

And now I am replacing one of two lost knit pieces. More about that in the next post! Question: when do you decide to replace a lost or worn knit item? I’d like to include others’ thoughts on this!

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