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The Audacity of Handspun

Dear Kay,
I AM BACK. Really! Reentry has been pure H-E-double hockey sticks since we got back from San Francisco. Mostly it’s grief I’ve been struggling with, the end-of-camp feeling that hit the minute I looked out the plane window Thursday morning, seeing the boiling clouds over that beautiful city (OK, so it was a last-plane-out-of-Saigon feeling–we made it out just before the Apocalypse storms hit) and thinking, OhRIGHT. We DON’T live there? It was just a FANTASY?
What can I say? It was a great trip. I got to see Mrs. Lear for a tiny moment, along with the Learettes and Mr. Lear.
Had a transcendent salad of avocadoes and beets here.
I let the fellas take most of the photos, which meant that I ended up with about fifty photos of their faces at extreme close range. But they did an admirable job of documenting the trip. Here’s one of my few photos of them when they weren’t wrasslin’:
This one cracked me up:
I think the message of David’s photo was, “Hey mom. How about you set our table like they do at Chez Panisse? OK?”
I could have spent a LOT more time in the Muir Woods.
And I loved all these mailboxes on the road to Muir Beach:
A Bit o’ Knitting
Santy Claus brought me two skeins of handspun fingering weight yarn made by SewKnitNBeads2.
Now, at this point in my knitting career, I am content simply to own these skeins. They’re so pretty. They have that random thing going in the mix of the colors. I sit and look at them for fairly long periods of time. I like thinking about Miss SewKnitNBeads2 and how long it took her to make these 346-yard skeins. It was awfully nice of her to spin up these batches of thin, colory yarn. It’s enough, simply owning this stuff.
However, as I packed for my trip to San Francisco, I had to (of COURSE) bring some knitting. And the blanket-for-Clif project wasn’t really all that portable, though in a certain mood I’d talk myself into thinking I should in fact tote along 20 skeins of DK-weight tweed yarn.
So at the very last possible moment I grabbed my number 2 needles and the two fat guinea pigs of SewKnitNBeads2 and hoped for the best. Something would come of it all.
Well, a 2 x 2 ribbed scarf isn’t exactly a tour de force, but once I started it on the plane, I got completely absorbed in the drama of watching the two plies of yarn shift, contrast, and occasionally converge. I was listening to Barack Obama reading The Audacity of Hope while I knitted, and there were periods when time passed in a complete and utter flow state. So great.
You’ll be happy to know that I de-Christmased the house yesterday. Just about killed me. Remind me to get one of those self-destructing Christmas trees next year.



  1. Welcome back, and happy new year. When I hand the camera over, I get extreme closeups of FEET. Go to the CN Tower, take a pic of your feet. Go to the Toronto Zoo, take a pic of your feet. Go figure!!!

  2. Ann, can you PLEEEEASE tell me where I can buy one of those self-destructing Christmas trees??? I have to de-Christmas (or as we call it in AZ, “undecorate”) today. Of course, as Scarlett O’Hara would say, tomorrow is another day.”

  3. Yes, I always wonder why I’m not living in San Francisco. . . and I was born there and still live in the Bay Area. But it’s not the same anywhere but the City. Sigh!
    Lovely scarf, lovely photos.

  4. Mmmm. I miss Northern CA. That pic of the woods reminded me why I love it there so much. Actually, that scarf almost seems like an ode to the subtle colors of the nature-scapes in NoCA. Beautiful stuff!!

  5. The Muir Woods looks like a picture postcard – just simply gorgeous!!!

  6. I was supposed to have help de-Christmasing the house, and the middle kids did try, but my most USEFUL helper (the 14 year old) swanned off with his father to buy modeling glue. So I went it alone, too … although I must admit that lugging all that stuff upstairs to the attic is a good cardio workout.

  7. Gorgeous scarf – come back soon!

  8. Don’t you just love the way Muir Woods smells? Wish I could bottle it. Nothing that’s labeled ‘eucalyptus’ or ‘bay laurel’ seems to capture it, though. Must be the combination, and the moisture.

  9. the muir woods look loverly, i love that mailbox photo as well. My mom (a mail lady) would take pics that that on vacation as well, lol.
    beautiful yarns, and boys!
    Our tree is still in it’s stand sitting out on the upper deck, waiting to get dropped over and dragged to the fire pit! (kind of self destructing)

  10. A beautiful scarf. The yarn doesn’t need a fancy pattern. Knitting with one’s own handspun is an even more wonderful experience. And spinning. Now, that’s a way to get into the zone !

  11. Yeah, SF is a great place to visit, but living there can be a real nightmare. Glad you had a great time with wonderful memories.
    One who has served her time in the city by the bay

  12. Glad you had a good time in San Fran. Remember, those self destructing Christmas trees get needles and branches everywhere.

  13. Hmm. De-Christmassing. Thankfully because of our cat, we have the worlds smallest fake tree. We can literally pick it up by the top, put it in a bag decorations and all, and box it up until next season. Maybe I’ll do that tonight.

  14. Hi, Ann!
    My family was dining at Chez Panisse at the same time as you. It really doesn’t get better! Seems like you had as great a trip as we did in the Bay Area.
    Welcome back,

  15. gawjus scarf! if you moved to CA you could be ‘the nation’s leading bi-coastal knitting blog’ still impressive sounding.

  16. GAHHH!!!
    You were in the Bay Area!!!
    AND you were at one of my favorite restaurants!!! I’m glad you guys got out of here before the EVIL STORM OF DOOM came and knocked us lightweights off our feet! :o)
    that’s what happens when any sort of inclement weather reaches us over here in Califor-nye-aye.
    glad to see that you guys enjoyed yourselves and what delicious yarn!!! :o) ek.
    p.s. have you seen alice waters new book? i got one for my sister and she gave it to me too! haha!

  17. There is something sad about leaving a well loved vacation spot and something wonderful about coming back to the comforts of home. Happy New Year to you. The scarf is gorgeous!

  18. I keep thinking about how long it’s been since I’ve been to the Bay Area (July 1994) and how I really need to go back, especially since I have friends in the area. I’d really, really love to go back and just spend all my time traipsing around the Muir Woods.

  19. Beautiful scarf. Your instinct to let the yarn reveal itself in a simple pattern was spot-on.

  20. That is gorgeous, gorgeous, mouthwateringly lovely yarn. (Can you tell I like it?)
    The scarf seems to be the perfect use for it. It is lovely, too.

  21. Yes, regarding the scarf. What THEY said. It’s truly wonderful – it’s so flat, did you do something special on the edges? Or does the 2×2 just come out flat? (I haven’t tried that, I don’t think….but man, if they come out like that I’m game to try. I’m *capable* of that!)

  22. Ann, you made me remember my trip to SF. Lovely. Here is a link to a knitting animation – cute and funny: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6ZjMWLqJvM
    I hope that URL came out right.

  23. Ann, your scarf is bee-u-ti-fulllll!!! I wouldn’t have known just how beautiful the skeins would unfold themselves into such an artistic watercolor effect! I can see why you were in knitting heaven while listening to Obama with painterly yarn! Loved the photos of Muir Woods! The scarf looks like it could have been plucked right out of the photo, they fit so perfectly together! Happy return!

  24. I bought avocadoes and beets at Trader Joe’s yesterday because of this post. Somehow, I think no matter how I put them together they’re not going to add up to Chez Panisse. One can dream…and one can remember the lessons knit into 19th c. mittens.

  25. Welcome back! I hope you don’t mind my sharing a story…
    When I moved from SF to Atlanta, for a whole YEAR I had dreams that I’d be in SF and someone would be saying I had to leave, and I’d say, “No! I don’t want to go! No!” This happened at least once a week. I finally went back (even though we couldn’t really afford it–I was in grad school), visited friends and favorite haunts, and the dreams stopped. There’s a great feeling in the city–like anything is possible. Now I’m in central Ohio–about as far away from the zeitgeist of SF as one can get. I still miss it.
    Wow, handspun makes a simple scarf stunning. Ruh roh–another reason why I should learn to spin!

  26. Ann, I have been on a handspun bender myself lately, and a skein of SewKnitNBeads2 found its way to my home a week ago or so (Spice Potpourri). Its stripy loveliness overwhelms me. It’s superwash, but I cannot fathom subjecting it to the friction and heat of that space that exists between my feet and my shoes. Maybe for now it will remain a skein of destiny. The ribbed scarf pattern complements the yarn perfectly. What a perfect traveling project it must be. Happy new year!

  27. Welcome back! It is always hard to leave the Bay Area, isn’t it? I lived there for ten years, and whenever I go back to visit, especially Point Reyes and Muir Woods, I always just want to lie down and insist upon never leaving (I guess I get like a three-year-old that way!). It’s just good there.
    Love the scarf!

  28. Can I just echo the GAHHHH!! You were in the Bay Area? I know, not a public appearance, you probably went around in dark glasses and voluminous knitted cowls – back, back knitting masses. Looks like you had a lovely time. Muir Woods and beach and all those parts of Marin – truly magical.

  29. Welcome back! Love the socks, you fooled me the first pic looks like a scarf. I should have asked for a camera for Christmas and love the term deChristmas, ha! Your vacay looked like great fun!

  30. Oh, Ann – every time I have to leave San Francisco, it is *anguish*. Every time. It’s so good there.

  31. Tough to leave San Francisco, tough to “de-Christmas” the house, beautiful new scarf (in all of its simplicity, a work of art). Saying “good-bye” to what is loved, even as welcoming the beloved “new” into creation: cycle of life…Great knitting, Ann. Thanks.

  32. Tough to leave San Francisco, tough to “de-Christmas” the house, beautiful new scarf (in all of its simplicity, a work of art). Saying “good-bye” to what is loved, even as welcoming the beloved “new” into creation: cycle of life…Great knitting, Ann. Thanks.

  33. I neeed a super description of the beet salad — please pretty please – can I bribe you or anything?

  34. Hi Ann; I hope you can help me. It doesn’t matter how hard I try, my knitting is always too tight. Any advice?


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