Knitting by Judy @ 4:35 PM

closeup of border
closeup of border

Sometimes, if we are very lucky, we create an object that is so perfect, so me that it can hardly be described with words, but must be felt to be understood.

One of the first objects that I can remember knitting as a child was a Fair Isle poncho. The main body of the poncho was knit from an acrylic faux mohair in a sort of tweedy golden brown. Around the border were white snowflakes. I was incredibly proud of it. I picked the pattern, even though the LYS owner said it would be too hard for me. And I knit the whole thing, even the snowflakes, even though I had to learn stranded knitting and I was still a thrower instead of a picker, even though it was hard and slow. I knit it. And I loved that poncho way beyond its actual worth as a knitted object. I wore that poncho constantly, even when ponchos were out of style. I wore it until it fell apart and had to be retired. When someone asks me what my favorite project ever is, I immediately think of that poncho.

It was waaaaaaaay better than the first sweater that I knit, which I wore once… because mama forced me to. Yeah. That was the sweater that first taught me that cheating at gauge is a lose-lose proposition.

But I’m not here to talk about ponchos and sweaters, beloved – or not – as they may be.

closeup of center in the sun
closeup of center in the sun

I’m here to tell you about a little project that started way before I became involved in it. It started over a year ago at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in 2008, when Duffy purchased some gorgeous silk/merino fiber from Dicentra Designs in a colorway called Eowyn.

Oh, yeah, that’s pretty, I said, in a sort of I-like-it-but-I’m-not-a-spinner-so-meh way. Pretty colors.

Eventually Duffy began spinning it.

Oh! That’s really pretty! I said, in a sort of I-like-it-and-it’s-turning-into-yarn way. Pretty colors.

And this past summer, during knit in public day, Duffy spun while sitting in the sunshine, and the colors glowed on her bobbin – greens and blues and purples. oooooo! Pretty! Really, really pretty! I said, in a definitely I-really-love-that way. Pretty! Ooooooo! So my colors!

And I bought some yarn and knit some socks, and was mostly content. But in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to find some yarn that had just those colors in it. Because they are soooo my colors.

And one evening at Wednesday Night Knitting, Duffy handed me a gorgeous skein of two-ply yarn with a tag on it that said Magic Judy. And I thought how sweet it was that Duffy had named it after me, and how pretty – how very, very pretty – the yarn was. And I started to hand it back. But Duffy said, I made it for you. It’s yours. And perhaps because I refused to let go of it no matter how I argued with her, she was adamant that it was my yarn and I needed to knit something with it.

glittering in the sun at OFFF
glittering in the sun at OFFF

And so I began searching for a pattern. I decided the yarn wanted to be a wrap or shawl or stole. The colors are bright and strong, with long runs. So I wanted a pattern that had a strongly geometric component that would complement the color rather than compete with it.

And beads. It had to have beads.

I found Stola Mit Arabesker Borte Und Mitte (Stole With Arabesque Edging and Middle), a free download on Ravelry. It didn’t have beads, but I thought I could add a few. The title was in German, and that gave me pause because I speak not a word of that language. But when I opened the pattern I was reassured. What few instructions there were – cast on, follow chart, bind off – are in English. It’s mostly just one big chart. I like charts!

Then began a period of Sock Summit madness. And when I resurfaced and recovered from that, I though how fun it would be to knit that shawl and reveal it at OFFF in September. Duffy would be there, and lots of PDXKB and Spinnerati would be there, and tons of other people. And it would be so fun to show Duffy what I’d made.

First I agonized over beads: sparkly teal with undertones of silver, or dark mysterious midnight with surprising flashes of sapphire. I polled on Twitter and Facebook, and I even knit a tiny swatch with both beads. Sparkly teal: hands-down winner.

Then I agonized over bead placement. I had a limited number of beads – fewer than 550, which is not a lot for a wrap of that size. I worked for an entire weekend deciding exactly where to put the beads. (OK. Sometimes I can be a little obsessive.)
obligatory blocking pic
obligatory blocking pic

I started knitting. And then I started agonizing over whether I had enough yarn or not. I almost ripped it out and started something not-so-picky-about-length, like a faroese or something. But it was so pretty! I contemplated shaving a bit off the width and length so it was smaller. But the pattern has no repeats, so that would not have been all that easy. A Ravelry PM or two with the pattern author, and I began to hope that I would have just enough.

I kept knitting and adding beads. I found that I could not take it anywhere – it was at-home knitting only. And I’d better not knit while I was feeling sleepy. It kicked my arse several times when I was sleepy and made stupid mistakes. Once I was sleepy and tried to fix a stupid mistake and ended up having to rip out 12 rows.

Every time I was home, and awake, I knit obsessively. I really, really wanted to have it done by OFFF. And I started planning: if I can get two charts done today, two tomorrow, and one on Tuesday, I’ll make it. And I stuck to my schedule – mostly – and knit obsessively and finished the scheduled charts, and began to hope that OFFF would see the big reveal. I tried to keep it mostly very secret and not let Duffy know what I was doing, because I wanted it to be a surprise.

And then I ran out of yarn. A foot from the end. Yarn. Gone. I wept.

I cried and whined like a junky needing a fix I took a deep breath and bombarded Duffy with Tweets and emails wrote an email to Duffy. I see your nefarious plot, I said. Lure them in with the free stuff and get them hooked… I offered my firstborn male child to buy fiber if I could have more yarn.

Duffy replied, Aww. Poor thing. Auntie Duffy will help. [pat pat pat quiet evil chortle under her breath]

artsy draped shot
artsy draped shot

I even brought the sadly unfinished stole, still on the needles with a foot of knitting to go and 6″ of fiber remaining, to Wednesday Night Knitting, so everyone could see why it had to be finished and Duffy could see how much more yarn I needed. And everyone agreed that it was beautiful and need to be completed. Duffy emailed Dicentra Designs to ask her to bring more Eowyn in the merino/silk blend to OFFF. And everything was set.

What will you do if she doesn’t have any more? Someone asked.

I wept again. And contemplated ripping the entire thing out and reknitting the same pattern with a different yarn for the border. And wept some more, then crossed my fingers and toes and knitting needles.

At OFFF, Duffy and I duly proceeded to the Dicentra booth, where we found one – ONE – thingy of merino/silk in Eowyn. I held it tight. Is it enough? I asked Duffy? It’s plenty. I was vastly relieved and bought the Eowyn and two other thingys of fiber for Duffy besides. And I started breathing again.

Back at the PDXKB/Spinnerati booth, I casually tossed the stole over one of the tables. Because it was pretty and I liked looking at it and petting it. And it was supposed to debut at OFFF anyway. I began to suspect that I was on to a good thing when people started coming from way across the fairgrounds. What is that? It’s so pretty! I saw the sparkles from way over there! I had a lot of fun talking about knitting with beads, and showing how I’d run out of yarn, but Duffy was, even as we spoke, spinning more so that I could finish it. I wish that the beads photographed better, but perhaps you can see them twinkling in a couple of the shots.

It took Duffy hardly any time to spin the yarn and ply it and do all that stuff that has to be done to yarn when you’ve just made it. And one Wednesday night shortly after OFFF, Duffy presented me with a new skein of yarn. And I decided that I must immediately wind it into a ball so that I could start knitting as soon as I got home. And I pulled out my trusty nostepinne, and, swiftless, proceeded to turn the lovely skein of yarn into a tangled mess.

There was a bit of friendly betting on Facebook as to whether I’d stay up until it was untangled or go to bed, and if I stayed up when exactly I would be finished. It was 3:30 AM, thank you very much. And yes I did go to work the next day.

spreading my wings
spreading my wings

So I knit obsessively. And I finished it. And last Sunday I gave it a nice soak and then spread it out to block on #1 Son’s bed. It was so pretty!

Monday night it came off the blocking wires. I settled it across my shoulders with quiet joy and gazed at it’s loveliness in the mirror. The colors were so beautiful and so me. And the beads – just the right number of them – twinkled like little stars as I moved.

And I wore it Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Thursday, and Saturday. (Friday I took a break only because I didn’t leave the house that day.) On Tuesday a colleague (a straight, male, non-knitting colleague) said, I’m sorry, I’m having a hard time concentrating on what you are saying because I’m captivated by your shawl.

Oh, it was so beyond pretty! It’s by far my favorite knitting project ever. I love it beyond reason – even more than the Fair Isle poncho. It’s the perfect object.

Duffy: thank you, my friend, for the gift of your fiber and your time to create amazing yarn that has become this wonderful, magical object. Thank you.

in-the-sun fence shot
in-the-sun fence shot

I keep trying to take picture of it – some more successful than others. The darn beads just don’t show up like they do in real life. You will have to trust me that they are perfect. Today the weather relented and there was a bit of late-afternoon autumn sunshine on my fence. I was able to get one last glowing-in-the-sun shot. Ahhhhhh. It’s so pretty.

Duffy will be bringing it to SOAR (because how could I refuse her request?), so if you are going, too, track her down and ask for a peek.

  • Yarn: Judy’s Magic spun by Duffy Stephens from silk/merino fiber dyed by Dicentra Designs in a colorway called Eowyn Ask Duffy if you want to know the spinning particulars.
  • Needles: Addi Lace 40″ circular, US#8 (5 mm)
  • Pattern: Stola Mit Arabesker Borte Und Mitte (Stole With Arabesque Edging and Middle), a free download on Ravelry
  • Modifications: Added beads. Nothing else.

Knitting |On The Road by Judy @ 7:49 PM
tags: , , ,

the Alamo - or at least the church
the Alamo – or at least the church

You will remember, gentle reader, that a couple of weeks ago (less a weekend) I headed off, bright and shiny and finally (I thought) over the plague that had struck me down, along with many of my coworkers. I headed off for a little business trip to San Antonio. I have never visited the fair city of San Antonio, but I was looking forward to three days spent looking at the inside of some nameless ballroom in some nameless hotel watching a series of oh-so-spicy PowerPoint presentations on scintillating subjects that I won’t go into here.

Yeah. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I was well equipped. I took knitting with me: the Snake River #2 socks, which I knit on a fair bit and got up to the ankles on; and the Jub Jub Bird socks, which I totally ignored. I had hand-knit shawls with me, lest the conference rooms become chilly. I had plenty hand-knit socks with me, which turned out to be… overkill. I had very warm feet because the weather was glorious — 80 F and sunny. I ate every meal sitting outside, soaking up the warm rays and glad for a few days of spring. Although I was well prepared with various types of product, my hair grew to enormous proportions. Ah, well. I can forgive much for that kind of weather.

One night we made it to a place called Rudy’s for dinner. It bills itself as the worst bar-b-que in Texas. Whatever. I will admit to eating an enormous amount of chicken, brisket, ribs, sausage, turkey, beans, potato salad, and creamed corn, all shared by a dozen or so colleagues, and enjoying it very much. We ordered so much they gave us an entire loaf of white bread. (I have since learned that white bread is a necessary part of any barbecue. I don’t know why.) Rudy’s had the most amazing barbecue sauce – supposedly developed by Doc Holliday at the OK coral (can’t you picture this… Doc: hold your fire there, pardner, while I rustle up a mess of ma special recipe bar-b-que sauce. I’m feelin’ a might peckish... ) I tried really hard to figure out how to get some of it home. But, with bag check costing $15, I finally had to pass.

The hotel was quite far away from central San Antonio. I was disappointed by this, as I really wanted to see the Alamo. So I didn’t bring my camera. But one night there were buses to take us down to Riverwalk. Since that’s only a short way from the Alamo, I got to at least see the outside of it (it was closed for the night). I have to admit – pretty cool! With no camera, I had to be content with a shot from my iPhone.

Knitwit bangle
Knitwit bangle

I arrived home and almost instantly came down with the plague again. Joy. On Monday I was supposed to go to the Dentist to get started on those two crowns I need on the teeth that were root-canalled just before Madrona (remember that?). I canceled the dentist appointment and went to the doctor instead. There I was informed that I have bronchitis and given prescriptions for antibiotics and a little something to help with the coughing so I could get some sleep.

All week, my days went like this: crawl out of bed… drink coffee, hoping to wake up a little; dial into work and stare at the screen waiting for coffee to kick in try to accomplish a few things; wonder if I really have to eat lunch and decide the instructions take with food are probably not kidding; eat the minimum lunch I think I can get away with; dial into work and try to accomplish a few things; skip dinner; go to bed.

The week wasn’t totally horrid, though. One day I found this bangle in the mail, and I was oh, so pleased! Isn’t this just the coolest thing you’ve ever seen? It’s an 8mm plastic, sliver-glitter-covered, knitting needle that’s been made into a bangle. These are made exclusively by Liana Kabel. The link goes to her Etsy shop, so you can order your own. Despite the long miles traveled – all the way from Australia – it arrived quickly and in perfect condition. Love it, love it, love it, and can’t wait to be well enough to wear it somewhere that people will actually see it!

could spring be far behind?
could spring be far behind?

Although I did wear it outside today so I could take a pic with the sun making the glitter all sparkly and stuff.

I wore it outside without a coat on… and… I was barefoot. Yeah. I really wasn’t outside that long and I didn’t get chilled or anything. It was a bit cold on the old toes, but so nice to feel the earth under my soles. I’m a barefoot girl, no doubt about it. (I can vividly remember Mama giving me what-for because I took the garbage out across the back yard to the alley through two feet of snow barefoot. It didn’t stop me from doing it again.)

And this was what I saw on my cherry tree.

Yes, the camellia is blooming — poor, confused thing. It was supposed to bloom at Christmas, but snow and ice nipped it in the bud and only a few blossoms made it through. The crocus are blooming, too. And the daylilies and tulips are poking their little arms up.

Can spring be far behind?

Knitting by Judy @ 8:06 AM

Andes Mints socks
Andes Mints socks

Look, gentle reader! A finished object! Or objects, really, since there is a pair.

These are my Andes Mints socks, made from wonderful, squooshy StitchJones Supersocks.

The traveling-lace pattern is my own, made up on the fly. I’m sure it lives in numerous stitch dictionaries. I had knit a similar pattern in my Victoria Socks, but the lace only twists one way. With the Andes Mints socks, I wanted the lace to twist in opposite directions on each.

I have to say I love knitting with this yarn. The colors are gorgeous and Sharon really nailed the repeat length, at least at this gauge. Although the stripes did change a little over the gussets, the colors never pooled or flashed! Love ’em, love ’em, love ’em. I can’t wait for cold weather so I can wear them.

Well… that last isn’t entirely true. I will love wearing the socks, but will miss the warm weather. Falls here are so lovely, usually.

By the way, if for some reason you have not yet heard of Sock Summit 2009, go over and get signed up for info. People in the know are calling this Woodsock. From the info I have – some of which I am not, unfortunately, at liberty to divulge – I can only say that this may very well be a once-in-a-lifetime, not-to-be-missed opportunity.

And people wonder why I love living in Portland. We have more LYS per capita than any other city this size in North America (I think). And also more microbreweries. And tons of local indie dyers and spinners. And a bunch of vineyards. And an awesome fiber festival (OFFF). And locally made, hand-crafted chocolate. And then Sock Summit comes along. What more could one ask for?

The Particulars:

  • Yarn: StitchJones Supersocks (100% Merino, 100 gm/460yds per skein); one skein of Andes Mints. I had yarn left over. There would be plenty in one skein to do a man-size pair of socks.
  • Needles: A pair of Addi Turbos 24″ circs, 2.0mm
  • My own pattern (may be available soon)

Knitting by Judy @ 11:55 PM

unblocked swatches
unblocked swatches

Dear Knitnana,

I love the Star Of Evening shawl you are knitting with Zen Yarn Garden in the Meezer colorway. Thus my reply — Why?!?!? – when you emailed that you were ripping it out. Because, you said, it’s superwash so it can’t be blocked.

My first thought was… Really? I don’t recall every pondering this particular question before. Certainly the socks I knit — which are mostly some variety of superwash merino — benefit from the blocking I give them at their first bath so that they photograph well.

And that got me thinking. Why can’t it be blocked?

Animal fibers shrink and felt (with varying degrees of success or failure, depending on your point of view) because of tiny scales on the fibers that open up and then lock together. Wool is made washable by one of two different processes: either an acid bath is used to strip off the little scales, or minute amounts of polymer are used to glue the scales down. The wool loses its ability to felt. But does it lose some other essential wool-ness that allows it to be blocked?

Obviously an experiment was in order.

blocking swatches
blocking swatches

I knit two swatches using a chart from one of those wonderful Japanese stitch pattern books. This is the second book in this series that I’ve purchased. I don’t read or speak a word of Japanese. But the books have beautiful photographs and charts, and illustrations of what the more unfamiliar chart symbols mean, so an adventurous knitter can puzzle it out. The patterns appear quite unusual and lovely to my American eyes. The first book is all knit patterns, mostly lace and cables (often combined). This book is 1/2 crochet, with not only patterns for larger objects, but some gorgeous edgings and appliqués. Many of the knit patterns feature embroidery, beading or two color stranded or slipped-stitch knitting where one of the yarns used is metallic (are you drooling yet?).

I chose a pattern mostly at random, but avoiding the beads and embroidery and such. It was a 16-stitch/8-row repeating pattern. I added an extra repeat of the first 6 stitches so that my swatch was symmetrical, plus a 2-stitch garter border on both sides, plus an extra stitch to match an extra in the pattern – total 27 stitches. I repeated the rows three times, or 24 rows, plus a 2-row garter border on both ends – total 28 rows.

Both swatches were knit on the same needles — US #5 (3.75mm) from my Denise set.

blocked swatches
blocked swatches

The first picture shows the unblocked swatches. On the right is STR in Blue Brick Wall – a 100% Superwash merino fingering weight sock yarn. Every good experiment needs a control. Mine is on the left. I couldn’t find any non-superwash wool in my odds and ends. This is Frog Tree 100% Alpaca fingering weight. It’s approximately the same WPI as the STR. It’s not wool, but it felts if you so much as breath on it hard, so as a control it meets that test. I had hopes that it would block nicely.

You can see that both swatches are approximately 4″x4″ unblocked. I think you can also agree with me that they would benefit from a bit of blocking. But not too much, because this pattern has some dimensionality that I don’t want to lose.

In the second picture, I have wet-blocked both swatches by pinning them out to 5″x5″. I felt that a 25% increase in both directions was probably sufficient. It opened up the YOs, but didn’t completely flatten the pretty twists on each side.

After pinning, I gave both swatches a goodly spritz with water, then left them for 24 hours to dry.

close up and personal
close up and personal

At the appointed time, I unpinned the swatches. To make this a really fair test, I picked up both swatches and tossed them around a bit, as though they were objects that I might wear for a day. After scrunching and tossing and smooshing and all, you can see in the third picture that both swatches lost a fraction of an inch in size – not much bounce back here for either yarn. On a 60″ wrap, it would work out to less than 1″. That doesn’t seem excessive.

The last picture is a closeup so you can see that, despite the difference in the texture of the yarns themselves, the stitch definition after blocking is pretty similar. (I also just noticed that in the last two pictures the alpaca swatch is upside down.) The alpaca bloomed a tiny bit, and the finished swatch is softer. Which is no surprise because it’s alpaca and the STR… isn’t… although it’s a very nice, smooshy wool.

Both swatches still have quite a bit of give in them. I think I could have blocked them more severely, but I’m not sure that I really would have wanted to. I’m quite happy with the results of both swatches.

So I think, by the results of my little experiment, superwash wool blocks quite well. Of course, your mileage may vary. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to knit a swatch, block it, and the decide if you like the results.

Thanks, Knitnana, for bringing up such an interesting question. I can’t wait to see what yarn you decide to knit your shawl from and the results (which I am sure will be lovely).


Knitting by Judy @ 10:37 PM

a bevy of knitters
a bevy of knitters

OK. We’ll go back to talking about knitting, now. But before we do… did you read the incredulous tone of the pingback to the previous post? … That’s right, a blogger whose focus is knitting hacked WordPress… 😆 The ping came from a very nice person who is as unhappy with the WP admin panels as I am, so I don’t want to give him any grief. (But I did wander over to his blog and tease him just a little.)

Thursday night I definitely left my comfort zone, but I had the best time! Several months ago, I had been asked to speak about Judy’s Magic Cast-on at the April meeting of the Tigard Knitting Guild. I was very pleased and excited to accept.

And I started thinking that I really should try to figure out exactly what I was going to say. And then I got busy and I didn’t. But I did think about teaching JMCO to a crowd and wondering exactly how people in the back were going to see it. The largest group I’ve taught it to before would probably be one of my sock classes. And that would be around five or six intrepid knitters.

This was around… 50. 😯

A week ago at Tangle, I spied some US#19 circular needles – these are really big, gentle reader. I bought two – one in wood and one in metal. And I bought two balls of the bulkiest yarn I could find in the brightest colors that Alice had, and I hatched a plot.

more knitters
more knitters

At the appointed time I arrived at the appointed place. I had yarn, needles, my current projects and a few items to show some cool things that JMCO can be used to do. There weren’t many people there yet, and I knew some of them. All were warm and welcoming, and I was invited to join a table. I sat and knitted and waited for the meeting to began and reminded myself that it would be a good idea to figure out what I was going to say.

Now, I know I am going to hear howls of protest when I say this, but I’m really a shy person. Once I get to know people, then I’m not shy at all. But in crowds where I don’t know people… yeah. I realize that some people are totally comfortable speaking to thousands of people. I’m not one of them. I have to force myself to come out of my shell and talk to people. Even knitters. And the knitters kept coming and coming and coming. And I just kept knitting and knitting and knitting. I knit two inches on the Salish Sea Socks – last December’s Rockin’ Sock Club pattern – all of which had to be frogged out the next day.

The meeting got rolling, and before I knew it, I was being introduced. I rose from my chair, waved at the crowd, took a deep breath, and started in.

It turns out that my voice is loud enough that I didn’t need a mike. Whodda thunk it? (I hear you laughing out there.)

I totally winged it, telling about how I had developed JMCO when I was home sick, and why it was cool. And then I called for volunteers. One volunteer played Judy’s Index Finger, and one volunteer played Judy’s Thumb. I handed each a ball of yarn, tied the ends together in the middle, and, holding up my humongo needles, demonstrated the cast on. The needles were so big that I actually needed both hands to hold them and loop the yarn around. Once I had demo’d, I showed off a few FOs that I had started with JMCO: two pairs of socks, and The Wings Of The Raven, and a bag that I’m pretty sure I started with JMCO. Well… I could have, so it got the point across.

and even more knitters
and even more knitters

And then I wandered amongst the tables, helping the knitters master JMCO and having a really marvelous time with everyone. In the pictures, you can see a bunch of wonderful knitters, concentrating on winding that yarn just right.

When I had circled the entire room and made it back to my table, I answered questions, took a few photos, thanked everyone for welcoming me into their fold, and sat down with relief. I used almost exactly my allotted time. Whew.

It was amazing and fun and I’m so glad that I did it! But I’m not sure that I’m even going to become comfortable speaking in front of crowds.

I’d also like to talk to you a bit more about the Great Adirondacks Soxie yarn. The link is just the first place I found that actually had a picture of the color. As you were, I was a bit surprised that they compared this yarn to Koigu. It’s nothing like. For one thing, although it felt softer after washing and would be OK to wear, it’s obviously not Merino. And the most obvious difference: I’ve never had Koigu pool or stripe. Ever. I couldn’t keep this from striping.

Interestingly enough, at the TKG meeting I sat next to Karen, who was knitting lace with this same yarn in a blue and green colorway. And, although I could see that the colors in the ball were lovely, in the scarf the colors looked darker and just not as luminous. Karen mentioned that this was the second time she’d used Great Adirondacks, and both times she’d been disappointed with the colors – lovely in the skein, not so much in the FO. And she had not knit socks either time! So I feel vindicated.

I still haven’t decided what to do with that second skein. I think it will need to be something like entrelac to get the biggest punch from the colors that I can.

Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 2:09 PM

Last year #1 Son was the proud recipient of a speeding ticket. You should take care of that right away, I suggested. Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll take care of it.

Later, #1 Son received a letter from the Oregon DMV explaining that the state frowns on people who fail to take care of their tickets and tends to suspend or revoke their driving privileges until it’s all cleared up. You really should take care of that, I reminded. Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll take care of it.

Then #1 Son traveled to Brazil for over a month and life went on and I forgot all about it because… it had been taken care of.

Tax time came, and taxes were calculated, and returns were electronically filed. #1 Son received a nice letter from the State Of Oregon (Revenue Division) thanking him for the tax return amount that had been applied to his outstanding account from Multnomah County. Would he please remit the remainder post haste? What’s this about? I asked. I don’t know, Mom. But don’t worry, I’ll get it taken care of.

Fast forward to last Wednesday. It’s 10:30 PM, and I am drowsing knitting in front of the TV, watching a DVR’d episode of Men In Trees. The phone rings.

#1 Son: Mom! My car just got towed! What am I going to do!

I’ve been through this once before. Last year when I was in Miami on business, a call came from #1 Son in Canada asking me to move his car in Portland. It was difficult, since I was diagonally almost as far away across the US from the car as I could possibly get, thus my familiarity with the whole car towing thing. It also pointed out what a small place the world is becoming. But I digress.

Mom (only 1/2 awake and trying to understand what might have happened): Why was your car towed? You have the area parking permit now.

#1 Son: Well… OK… here’s what happened. You know how when you get off the freeway by my house you can only go north and I live south and everyone just does that illegal U-turn? Well… my roommate called to tell me that there were a lot of cops out pulling people over for illegal U-turns. So instead of making a U-turn I crossed two lanes over a solid white line and turned left. [ed.: because apparently an illegal left turn is so much better than an illegal U-turn.] And the cop pulled me over and towed my car.

Mom (still trying to understand): Why did he tow your car?

#1 Son (after long pause): Apparently I’ve been driving on a suspended license. But I really didn’t know that! And he threw me in the back of his car and frisked me and everything! He wouldn’t even let me push my car home even though I could see my house from where I was. What am I going to do?

Mom (trying to remain calm): You will be glad you are not the kind of person to have illegal substances in your car (right?!?!?). You will be happy that you did take care of the lost registration so that this is not being complicated by a charge of driving a stolen vehicle (yes I know it’s not but you are a punk kid and therefore everything you say is suspect). In the morning you will call the state and find out what that outstanding debt is for and this time you will actually get it taken care of. You will then call the City Of Portland and find out how to get your car back. You will then call the court and find out how to take care of your ticket. You will then report back to me. Love you!


Thursday morning… in between meetings, my phone rings…

#1 Son: Hi! I called the state and paid them. They will let Multnomah County know by tomorrow that I’ve paid and Multnomah County will tell DMV so that is taken care of. I called about my car… uh… apparently I have to get a release from the police first before I can get the car back. But I can’t get the release because I’m not the registered owner and I don’t have a valid driver’s license. uh… what do I do now?

Mom: Apparently I will have to go get the release. Can one of your friends drive your car when I go to pick it up? By the way, your car is coming to my house. I will take your friend back to wherever they need to go afterwards.

#1 Son: I talked to Guitar Hero and he can go. Here’s the number of the place where the car is. And here’s Guitar Hero’s number. And here’s the number and address of the place where you get the release. Thanks. I really love you!

So I called Guitar Hero and asked him to be at my work front door at 4:00, and he agreed. I called the Portland Police and learned that people trying to get back cars towed because of a crime have to go to the Asset Forfeiture Unit first. But I could go directly to the Records Division to obtain the release because this was for a violation not a crime.

On my lunch hour (an extended hour, as it turns out), I walked down to the Portland Police Bureau Central Precinct. Once there, I was required to prove who I was and why I was there before I was allowed to ride the elevator up to the Records Division. The waiting room of the RD was tiny and lined on three sides with backless wooden benches. The east side included windows of bullet-proof (I assume) glass with little slits for papers and such to be passed back and forth. I stood briefly trying to get the lay of the land. Take a number, I was told. I did so and sat down against the north wall.

There were three parties ahead of me in line, and they were all friendly and chatty. The woman currently being served was there to get a release for her daughter’s car. It had been towed because her daughter was driving without a license. It seems that her daughter wasn’t old enough to actually get a permit, but she’d only driven a mile or two. (I hesitated to ask why her daughter had a car.)

The couple on the west bench were there to get a car that had been towed. (Do you see a pattern here?) They had been upstairs first to the Asset Forfeiture Unit. They didn’t really want to discuss why. I didn’t really want to know.

The woman on the south bench across from me broke the pattern as she was just there to get a background check so she could rent an apartment. I really hope my drug convictions don’t show up, she said quite seriously. I had no idea how to respond to that except good luck.

It occurred to me that I had left my knitting at work.

I was vastly relieved to have the release in hand and head back to work. At 3:45 PM my phone rang…

Guitar Hero: uh… hi… you know when I talked to you earlier… there was something I sort of forgot… I think my license is unsuspended. I just need to go over to DMV to get it reinstated. But I sort of haven’t done that yet so it’s not really valid… I talked to Drummer Boy and he said he’ll go with you to get #1 Son’s car so I’m going to bring him down and we should be there pretty soon.

Was I being punked? Twilight Zone? Candid Camera? (OK. That shows my age.) I was beginning to think that I was the last person in Oregon with a valid driver’s license.

Drummer Boy went with me the last time I had to get #1 Son’s car out of hock. This, I told him is deja vu all over again. He assured me that he did, indeed, have a valid license. The tow company fortunately had a key, because I do not (which I remembered on the way over there). And #1 Son’s car is back outside my house, taking the place of the car that had taken the place of the truck.

Last night my phone rang…

#1 Son: I think I forgot to tell you that L [ed. his girlfriend] is coming down from Canada and Autistic Youth is playing a couple of shows down in the Bay Area. We should be back I think on Sunday. Or maybe Monday.

Mom: How are you getting down there?

#1 Son: We’re taking Guitar Hero’s van

Mom: Drummer Boy better be doing all the driving

#1 Son (after long, long pause): Yeah. We’ll figure it out. Did you know that I could get my license back as soon as next Wednesday now that everything is taken care of but the new ticket? Isn’t that good news? Love you!

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    • The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

      (John Adams)
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    • Fri, Jun 14 - Flag Day (1 day)
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    • Thu, Jun 20 - until 06-22 Black Sheep Gathering, Eugene (7 days)
    • Thu, Jul 4 - Independence Day (21 days)
    • Thu, Jul 11 - #1 Son's Birthday (28 days)
Stuff I Gotta Do

Follow The Leader shawl


entrelac wrap


Arabesque shawl


Jubjub Bird Socks


I Mog Di


Peacock Feather Shawl


Honeybee Stole


Irtfa'a Faroese Shawl




Fatigues henley sweater


Jade Sapphire Scarf


#1 Son's Blanket


Cotton Bag