First project
Tuesday September 27th 2022, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Knit

I cast on five stitches of Malabrigo Mecha for Maddy, a soft thick wool, and did the first row to get it started.

Random draping back loops and added and missing stitches later, she had herself a little rectangle (mostly) and asked me, But what do we DO with it? Knitting clearly made practical things as well as beautiful and she wanted to be part of that, too.

I asked her to let me add a little to it, and I doubled its length with some nice steady stockinette stitch and then showed it to her doubled over.

She instantly figured out we had a finger puppet there, and she was right! So I got out a yarn needle and sewed up the sides for her.

She is very proud of her finger puppet and how it lets her show off her knitting.

I debated dubbing it the Cookie Monster but quietly decided that was up to her; a seven year old might not want to be associated with toddler motifs.

Actually, it kind of looks like Her–now His–Majesty’s guards with the bear hats thing going on, only in blue.

Monday September 26th 2022, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

We’re going to take a detour on the story here to go to the ringing of the doorbell today.

I had ordered a dress two months ago for my high school reunion, which was to be next weekend–and which got cancelled last week because not enough people had RSVP’d. Oh well.

Tracking said it had arrived in town Friday; the woman in Ukraine who’d been doing some special tailoring had gotten it out in time for that event–

–but once again, there was no mention of when it might actually be delivered, just where it was. Right in town. Going nowhere. After my mail was held over the weekend, this morning’s Informed Delivery notification said no packages today nor soon on the way. Great, I thought, here we go again.

I opened the door to find the new mailman. He asked me my name. He asked me my address, which confused me, I mean, you’re right here, right. He asked if I knew Juliaa, looking briefly at the yellow puffy package.

Yes, from Ukraine, I answered, I’m expecting a package from there, (with my vyshyvanka silently backing me up that that’s something I do.)

He asked again just to make sure. I said Juliaa… Plumarii? That was her business’s name–which was not on there. But I told him it was a dress.

And then he explained why. I didn’t see till later that the Contents box on the label said Embroidered Dress. I’d clinched it for him.

Because, again, the street address had been bungled, with the first of the three numbers gone missing but at least this time it had the other two. He was very proud of himself that he had worked out that this was mine and clearly relieved at the certainty with which he could say that now because it could be awful if it turned out he’d been wrong. There did used to be another Hyde family at the far end of this street. He wasn’t about to risk handing something international and important to the wrong person and he was new on this route and didn’t know anybody yet.

I thought, what is it with Etsy and this street addresses thing? Is it the Cyrillic alphabet/Ukrainian translation? That’s two vendors now. I thanked him profusely for having gotten it to me.

We probably both knew in that moment about the fuss I’d raised over the package that is still listed as “in transit” on its way back to Ukraine that I’d tried so hard to retrieve first. The Post Office had sent me a survey afterwards and I’d wondered what effect my responses would have on our guy, because the lowest person in the pecking order always takes the worst heat whether it’s deserved or not. So I’d tried not to yell, but, This Was Not Okay.

I need to make sure they hear that I’m so happy at what he did for me this time.

I thanked him again as he left.

It came. It had gotten through. He’d gone the extra mile.

And the dress, oh, the dress: it’s perfect. All of it is. The color, the fit, the quality of the fabric and the work. I’d requested it be of a piece with no slit at the neckline and no opening above the knees like so many of the traditional ones do. (I fall a lot and ya gotta maintain at least some dignity.) They did all that, and the embroidery is on both sides of the seam, going all the way up to the closed embroidered crewneck rather than how it is in the picture. It’s exactly how I’d wanted it to be and the whole thing is just glorious. I will love it for years to come.

The motifs, Juliaa had told me, are representative of the bounty of the harvest.

It was too big for a selfie so Richard helpfully tried, but when someone is 15″ taller and looking down, even while trying to crouch down his photos still made my head look like a swollen basketball and maybe I’ll ask a friend so you can see it. Or we can try again when his back is feeling a little better.

Speaking of which. We did have such a great time playing with the kids on that trip.

The friendly skies
Sunday September 25th 2022, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

Just walked in the door, haven’t checked my messages yet, just a quick note before we collapse.

It’s the weekend before Spencer’s fourth birthday and we flew to go celebrate with the grands there.

Taking a cowl project out of my purse to get a few stitches in, I found myself with my seven year old granddaughter asking if she could work on it. More on that later. She first asked me who it was for, and I told her, I don’t know, as I thought of the times I’d worked on it during knitting zoom meetings and a doctor’s waiting room with that same question in mind.

Still not done, and it was still that grayish blue from stash that just didn’t do it for me so it had been in no hurry. I’d started it to try to make that yarn find its rightful home at long last. Someone out there would love it if I used it.

I had, as it turned out, enough time on the plane and enough yarn on the first of my two balls (I think it was shade 3251 there) to do two last repeats and that was all it needed.

The plane did some descending. I was casting off.

The plane went lower still, though the view out the window showed no signs of city lights yet.

I used the tip of the needle to work the yarn ends in as if I were knitting stitches into existing edge ones. Finally, I left little dangly ends that needed to be trimmed off because enough already, and I called it done with less than five minutes to spare. We touched down.

I eyed that ball band on that second ball: Plymouth Solstice, baby alpaca/extra fine merino/yak, squishy and soft.

I told myself, don’t be dumb: don’t save the ball band for some possible future project and recipient when you have one right in front of you that you won’t have time to say a word to about anything. It says hand wash only as well as what it’s made of and she needs to have that information and I don’t have pen nor paper. So I did, I took the band from the one and wrapped it around the new cowl by way of introducing her to it.

We were getting our stuff from the overhead bins, just steps from the front of the plane–and she’d vanished. Even just saying, Where is she? while looking to left and then right was holding up the long line behind me.

Turns out the tall male flight attendant was blocking the view. She looked up at my question and in that moment we saw each other, and I pressed it into the hands of this older black flight attendant who’d put on a good face to the passengers the whole flight, but up at the front, had looked like she just might cry in spite of herself at any moment. She needed someone who understood her situation, whatever it was. She needed a hug.

I could do none of that in the time that I had but I needed to do what I could.

I wanted to say, Thank you for helping to make it so that we could go play with our grandchildren this weekend. I wanted to say, this is how you take care of it, tepid soapy water in a sink/as little movement to the water as possible/the lace will stretch out once it’s wet, that’s normal. I wanted to say, snip off those ends it’s okay sorry for leaving those/no scissors. I wanted to say, I am with you all the way wherever you are and whatever it is.

Instead she simply got my eyes meeting hers as she exclaimed in disbelief, having watched part of this coming to be in my hands those past 80 minutes, “For me??!”

(Anybody want that second skein, just let me know. No band, sorry/not sorry at all.)

And now I know why the kids had a last-minute change of schedule not of their making that meant that we changed our schedule to a flight an hour earlier than had been planned. Change fee $0 was a nice touch to top off how that worked out. Thank you, Southwest.

I hope they still do this when I’m old
Friday September 23rd 2022, 8:31 pm
Filed under: Friends

We have a quite elderly widow in our ward at church, probably the oldest person there. She’s lived in her house with the big back yard and tall trees and winding creek up near the hills for most of her long life.

Someone had an idea that I want to pass along: that her friends who could should bring themselves a sandwich and gather at her house for lunch on Fridays, clean up afterwards to make sure she doesn’t have to do any work to have us come, and give her company and laughter while being sets of eyes looking out for her for the sakes of both her and her children across the country.

We had such a good time today.

Joy and raptor
Thursday September 22nd 2022, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift

So that answered the question: the small tree in the center stopped at three sets of branches, its parental figures to either side get five.

Right now they’re on the fourth.

Finishing this was going to be my Aftober project this year (the challenge whereby you finally finish something that’s been needing that last push) but I just might have to use something else for that. But we’ll see.

Hmm. A peregrine falcon soaring above the trees? Or go wider on the wings and make it a California Condor?

Wednesday September 21st 2022, 8:18 pm
Filed under: Life

The view out the back windows this morning.

The view out the front door in the time it took to walk those few steps to snap its picture, too.

Within five minutes it was raining in the back yard, and sunnier if anything in the front.

California skies can still, after all these years, feel so weird.

It’s going for a home run
Tuesday September 20th 2022, 8:31 pm
Filed under: Knit,Life

The new post office guy on the case sent me a picture of the address it was sent to: where my street name and address should have been, in transcribing from whatever Etsy or PayPal had told her in an alphabet much less language different from her own, she’d put my phone number.

And so it was now on its way back to her.

I asked him, You had my (obviously-local) phone number right there on the package; why didn’t anybody call to ask my address? Someone took a picture so someone knew I was looking for it. Someone had it.

He wrote back that if I had phoned before it got to this point they could have intercepted it.

(Head smack) I went in in person as soon as I knew there was a problem and filed a report. How could I call to stop you from sending it to Carson and now Ukraine back when I didn’t know anything yet except that it was supposed to arrive?


The ironic thing is that it got through the postal system in Kiev in two days, which is lightning fast–four to six weeks is more the norm during this war.

Oh well. At least the artist and I both know now where it’s actually going and I asked her to let me pay for the next go-round on the postage.

Meantime, re the afghan, the trees are on their third sets of branches. I can at least make something make progress!

The case of the missing sunflowers
Monday September 19th 2022, 9:08 pm
Filed under: Life

The gerdan saga, continued: I got a note from the local postmaster with a makes-no-sense subject line that my problem had been resolved! (Their exclamation point.)

He said that the package had the right zip code but apparently a wrong street address or something. Which left me thinking, their machines can’t read European handwriting on numbers, having puzzled over a few of those myself.

He suggested I go to the USPS site since it hadn’t left the country yet.

Say what? I didn’t send it to Ukraine, Ukraine sent it to me, what? On further thought, were they threatening to return it? So you bet I went there, and re-entered the declaration of a missing package.

The system told me that Oh, it thought that was all taken care of, okay, it’ll get back on the case, here’s the new case number.

And man was I glad that I’d paid attention to that subject line.

I’d almost forgotten what it’s like
Sunday September 18th 2022, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Knit

We moved here while there was late snow on the ground in New Hampshire, landing at the start of what was then considered a drought. (We hadn’t seen nothin’ yet.) Our then-youngest turned one and started walking.

Six months later there were sounds outside that our baby had no idea what to make of.

There was water. Falling out of the sky. Water doesn’t do that. She was staring out the window. She asked to go outside and toddled over to the edge of the patio.

It was cold! And wet! She ran back towards me and away from it but stopped–because this mystery hadn’t been solved yet.

She looked for it: yup, the sprinkler was over there. It was off, she checked it out, it really was.

So then what WAS this?! Water doesn’t just fall out of the sky, you know!

Years later and we’ve learned a bit more about drought, for sure.

It rained last night for the first time since what–January? But it was over by the time we got up, which is pretty normal for around here. There were occasional sprinkles during the day.

But then during my knitting group Zoom this evening the skies abruptly opened up and the rain pounded down. I amused my friends by going, Can you *hear* that?! RAIN!!! I jumped up to go get a closer look, to remember what it even is, what it’s even like (except I didn’t need to go out in it to prove the cold and the wetness.)

They chuckled, and I said, I feel like a little kid, I want to jump up and down in excitement.

And the conversation flowed away as such things do, soaking in over here, running off over there. And I went back to knitting my stick figures of trees.


Word of mouth
Saturday September 17th 2022, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

Y’know, I was just saying to my husband this afternoon that I wanted a cookie or something sweet like that but that I didn’t want to bake because then we’d eat the whole batch. If I could just buy one that’s as good as what I could make myself… If only.

And then I opened Facebook to see if anyone needed to be wished happy birthday.

One of my friends had just posted a picture of a gorgeous pistachio dessert from a local bakery she’d driven some distance to try out.

Turns out it was about two miles from us. Never heard of them. Opened in December 2019 and survived the pandemic–wow. Dairy free? Vegan? Nut free? Name your special dietary request and they can do it and everything is gluten-free. (They’re working on setting up shipping nationwide.)

Back in the Purlescence days, there were I think five people there who were seriously wheat allergic–just touching flour made one person break out in hives–or were celiacs, and it was one of those friends getting the word out that this place is safe for them.

You know I had to go try it out.

And then I had to take some to yonder allergic child of mine, quick while it’s fresh, before it starts raining tonight and all day tomorrow (YAY!!!)

So far, Richard and I have tried the chocolate muffin with the mini chips and monk fruit in them; we’re saving the  two frosted ones on the left for breakfast. Oh, and we each had an apple cider mini-muffin. Yum.

But just from those two tastes I’d say that yes. We will definitely be back. Probably way more times than we should.

New Swedish word: Solros
Friday September 16th 2022, 8:49 pm
Filed under: History

Meaning, sunflower.

This small handwoven woolen tapestry is my first ever purchase coming from the Kingdom of Sweden. I wondered if I was related to whoever made this. It was being sold as a fundraiser for a Ukrainian relief fund and the price was roughly postage times two.

I wanted to study how they used the various background shades of purple and blue and brightness/shadedness to enhance the colors within the flowers and highlight some areas; I wanted to study it to learn more of how to create the effects they did.

It was made in the 1970s. I think it could use a gentle hand washing for sheer age, is all, but I’m a little hesitant.

Anyone familiar with classic Swedish tapestry weaving? (It is definitely thicker than the French ones I grew up with.) Judging by the fringe, I’m guessing jute for the warp.

What would you do?

Row by row
Thursday September 15th 2022, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Knitting a Gift,Life

“Your package is moving within the USPS network and is on track to be delivered to its final destination. It is currently in transit to the next facility.”

I’m going to hold them to that.

Meantime, I am well into the second tier of branches on the afghan. Three are planned, two more short ones at the top are a maybe for the momma and poppa redwoods with the little one in between staying shorter.

It’s getting there.

If it’s a race, at this pace I sure hope that gerdan wins it.

You snooze you lose
Wednesday September 14th 2022, 9:05 pm
Filed under: Life

The sender of the less-consequential package sent me a new tracking number in response to my heads-up. Richard thinks that means they never actually mailed the original, or they’re simply resending it. So my friend who loves getting fun colorful wool socks for her Aug. 2 birthday will finally have happy feet.

I went to USPS’s site to try again on my gerdan. I got this:

“Thanks, Alison. You will receive a confirmation email.

As outlined in the Terms & Conditions, the postal carrier has the final discretion to leave your package at this address.”

Wait–what? Okay, I can see why there might be circumstances they need to say that for, but given our mailman’s history of keeping the neighbors in touch with each other, that was funny. (I did NOT want Paul down the street’s property tax bill along with my own, thanks.)

Okay, try again. I signed up for all updates on its tracking number. It has now left southern California. In transit. Who knows, I might even get it this week!

Meantime, it turns out flu shots are hard to come by here at the moment and appointments are required but I found one CVS and only one locally that got us a slot for tonight, while all the others said not for at least a week. So if I sleep through tomorrow that’s why.

I put off getting that shot (or finding out that I couldn’t yet, as it turned out) because I didn’t want to miss the mailman ringing the doorbell for a signature for my package from Ukraine when he was originally expected to come.

Gone sightseeing
Tuesday September 13th 2022, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Life

They got that package moving alright.

It’s now 370 miles south of here.

Oleksandra noticed that before I did and instantly sent me a heads-up, telling me she’d wondered if she’d written my name or address down wrong or something and had checked but no, she’d gotten it right.

I found that the business card I’d been given had the official email as well as the phone number of that postal supervisor, so the documented trail of messages (no response so far) has begun.

Bead it
Monday September 12th 2022, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Life

Her fourth sale on Etsy. She told me it would take a few weeks to get made, and I, picturing one woman holding down everything while a frickin’ war is going on around her, told her I was in no hurry: in whatever time worked for her was good for me.

She was very pleased when that went out and after a long wait in Kiev, noted when it continued on.

The package (we won’t blame the gerdan inside) landed in San Francisco, got taken to my town, decided it liked the bar code scene better up in The City and hijacked a mail truck to get back to drinking in the view at its favorite hangout, got caught, and got brought back down here.

Where it sat in timeout.

And sat.

And sat.

While this good woman who’d spent so much time creating sunflowers of her own design out of Czech beads sent me an agonized note: she’d been following the tracking and had begun to believe it might never come. (She didn’t say, we got it past the war here, what on earth is up with the American postal service?)

She may have been afraid that I would make her make another one at no pay to make good on the order, but I’ve been following that tracking just as much as she has and I know she did that work and this is not her fault.

I assured her that if it didn’t come today I was going to drive to that post office with the tracking number in hand.

Usually the mail comes after dinner. Today it came in the afternoon. It was not there–but for once I knew what the status was for the day before the place closed. I kept my promise and drove over.

I told the kind and concerned clerk my story: this vendor in Ukraine had created this for me and was distraught that it might be lost. Could you help me help her feel a whole lot better about this one thing that she’d put heart and soul into?

I actually had another package of no particular importance that had been sitting there for a month, per the tracking, and could they find that, too.

She spent a long time in back while I read the latest Ukraine war updates on my phone, silently cheering their successes. I thought about Oleksandra, whose brother is in the army and for whom I had mobilized in my own little way because at least it was something I could do.

She finally came back. The tracking number for the other package didn’t exist, she told me. (I notified that vendor that they were going to have to go after them.) This one–pointing at the number with UA for Ukraine in it–was delivered this morning.

I assure you it was not, I told her. The mail came but it was not in it. (And if someone ever tells you I ever get mail in the morning other than during Christmas rush they are outright lying to you, I decided not to say out loud. We are at the end of their route.)

She gave me the supervisor’s business card so I would have that phone number and assured me they were being notified.

The hope is that it is still on the truck and that it will come tomorrow.

But either way, I have Oleksandra‘s back and that’s what matters.