Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


Subscribe to Rachael's mailing list

knitting projects

DSCN13632.jpg Email me


Subscribe to Rachael's mailing list

book tour

knitting projects


go here

Email me

« April 2008 | Main | June 2008 »

19 posts from May 2008

Drumroll, PleaseMay 30, 2008

And the winner of the AIDS Lifecycle Sock Raffle is......


Which is great, because she has ridden the AIDS Lifecycle before! She was one of the first people to really get a chance to tell Lala about what the ride would be like, and I know she was one of the first people to help Lala believe she'll be able to make it. So she deserves a nice pair of hand-knit socks. (I'm sorry if you wanted to win and didn't.... everyone deserves nice pairs of hand-knit socks. Next time?)

But you people! Lala's goal was $3,000, and she's almost to the $5,000 mark! Seriously! Is that AMAZING or what? Thank you, THANK you for all the knitterly, loving help. I'm so happy for her, and I'm so excited that she's almost on the road -- she'll be hitting the pedals bright and early Sunday morning. Her 40th birthday is on Monday, and she'll be doing the longest ride that day, more than a hundred miles from Santa Cruz to King City. I'll get to see her that night, barring any unforeseen circumstances, and I'll check her into a hotel for her birthday. A bath will be in order, I think. With epsom salts.

Me, I'm still with Mom. We took her home today, and the lovely Hospice helpers came this afternoon. Dad and we three girls are by her side. Just had a nice chicken dinner, and I'm making broth now. I can hear Christy and Bethany laughing in her room. It's good to be home. It's good that she's home.

(Have I told you how amazing you were in that last round of comments? We can feel the peace here. Thank you. All love to you.)

PeaceMay 27, 2008

This is tough, yo. Mom's not doing well: possible multiple myeloma, pretty far along, or a flare-up of her sarcoidosis, but whatever mysterious ailment it is has her really sick. Heart, lung, kidney, stomach, blood sick. We're about six tranfusions in so far, and she's still, two weeks later, in the hospital.

She's the best little mama anyone ever had, and I really believe that. No one could be better.

We took her cat to her today in the hospital. With the blessing of the vet and the staff and a bill-of-health fax, we surprised her with Bailey. She liked that. But she worried what she'd do with a cat in the hospital until we assured her we'd take Bailey home for her, it was just a visit -- just give him a little pat now, Mom. He put his big paw on her little one. She liked that.

So if everyone who comes here thinks a good thought for her, a thought of peace, and tranquility, and more PEACE, we'd sure appreciate it. Just for a second, think a thought for Janette Herron. Thanks. My love to you. Now go give someone a kiss, or a hug, or a phone call. I mean it. Then tell me in comments what you did or are going to do (but mean it, really mean it). All that love being spread around the world in Mom's name. It has to do her good, right?

Peace. And health. But mostly peace.

The Mom SweaterMay 25, 2008

Finally, pictures!


The backstory: I grew up with a sweater just like this. My mom had it made for her in a small Norwegian town in the sixties. She wore it ALL the time while I was growing up. I've wanted to copy it for years, even took it home with me a couple of times, but always had to give it back when she nagged me to -- she was cold, and it was just sitting on my shelf. A couple of months ago, while I was home with her, I took it out and made about a billion notes. I ordered yarn, and then made it without the original in front of me, but it worked. It really worked! This is it! The only difference is that I left one peerie off the edge of the sleeves on accident and the button-band is worked horizontally instead of her crazy-ass vertical one.

I love it. I love it so much I think I might cast on for another one. That might be my comfort knitting (although I did throw some weird acrylic (how did it get into my house?) on the needles last night for a quick cardi -- desperate times, desperate measures).

Pattern: My own copy of mom's 60s Norwegian sweater.
Yarn: Jamieson's Spindrift, 11 balls Olive, 4 balls Natural White
Needles: US 2
Gauge: 6st/inch
Buttons: 11, pewter, bought at Stitches, can't remember vendor


Closer look! Hello! (That lipstick? Seriously? Wet'n'Wild, 508A. Can you believe it?)


Lala wanted to say hi.


Miss Idaho kept flying by and messing up the shot.

Mwah! I am off to wear it for fun times with dogs and La right NOW. 

Comfort KnittingMay 24, 2008

I want comfort knitting. I want US7 needles and something with cashmere. I want enough of it to make a simple sweater, fast. I've been working on a prayer shawl for Mom, but I don't like it. Isn't that horrible? I don't like the pattern I chose, and the yarn isn't working for it. I think one has to love a prayer shawl for it to be effective, and everything I knit incorporates prayer right now, anyway.

Or maybe I want a merino sleeve, all cables, far enough up that I know the pattern by heart and feel each cable coming before I get to it.

I want easy colorwork. I started Venezia yesterday and the chart-reading is kicking my ass. It is not comfortable. I'm not convinced I'll ever learn the pattern enough to go without it.

I want ice cream. Even with no appetite (this is new, and very, very novel), I want ice cream. The other night for dinner, I had two glasses of wine and ice cream. Don't worry, I won't make a habit of it. I've lost ten pounds this month without trying.

I want more sleep.

I want to lie on the couch and watch Gray's Anatomy.

I want a beach. A big, long one. With a bonfire burning at the end of it. The smell of char in my beach-tangled hair.

But mostly I want comfort knitting. Don't have any. Must change that.

Digit Would Like You To KnowMay 23, 2008


That is all.

Wednesday UpdateMay 21, 2008

Don't really know what to write about. Mom's still in the hospital, and they're still trying to figure out what's going on with her. We are sad. Sometimes my chest just hurts with all the sad and worry. You know? Even sadder, I had bronchitis this past weekend, so I couldn't go to see her this week, couldn't risk exposing her. I hated being so far away from her. But I rested as well as I know how, and now it's back to my work week. I'll get to go see her this weekend for at least three days, so that will be something.

So frustrating. I know they're doing all they can, but the wheels move so slowly, don't they? There are so many things in life we can cantrol. And so many we can't.

Meantime, though, here's a tiny dog on the floorboard of my car:


There could be one on your floorboard. You should check. They're easy to miss (Miss IDAHO, that is!).

SuitcaseMay 19, 2008

For my local friends and readers: Does anyone have a BIG suitcase that Lala can borrow for her AIDS ride? It should be able to fit all her stuff and a sleeping bag and sleeping roll....


Cough. May 17, 2008

What a weird word that is. That's not what I sound like. No sissy little coff for me. No, I sound more like *QKOOOOH quuuoooohh quuuooohhhh. Pft."

I have read the whole internets. All of them. And there is nothing left of Ravelry for me to discover. Why aren't you writing more? I should comment more, but instead I find myself playing card games, a surefire way of knowing I'm sick. Not like the constant coughing and fever wouldn't tell me. I just HAD the flu. This is ridiculous.

And man, am I bummed. I was hoping to go to take care of the little mama tomorrow on my weekend, but I'm too sick to go. I wouldn't dare expose her to this. I feel like I'm letting her down. (She's doing a tiny bit better, but is still in the hospital with no date for release yet.....) Bethany, who was with me last week, is sick, too. Whatever germs that hospital had were doozies, knocked us on our asses. Christy is going down tomorrow, so there will be one daughter with her, which is good since Dad has to leave town for a couple of days, but I wish I were going to be there, too. Blast it.

Heat wave here. I've been at work during all daylight hours (and quite a few of the night hours, too), so I wouldn't know about the heat, but Lala sent me a picture of Our Cat Digit today in which you can almost see the heat waves rising:

    We do not do heat.

Edited to add: I was just preparing to play another computer card game. I found myself staring at the screen. I don't remember how to play this. How do I start? Then I realized I was staring at the calculator.

BART!May 16, 2008

Is ready!


The Day Just Got BrighterMay 15, 2008

Lala just called me and proposed.

Because we can get married in California, you know.

We'll probably wait till after the AIDS ride, though.

Oh, love is good. Love is really good.

Back North

Oh, this is hard. It's hard, being back up north, so far from the little mama, who's still so sick. She's moving hospitals today and going in for a kidney biopsy.

But a girl's gotta work. I just feel so helpless. It's like watching out a plane window. I know I can't help steer the plane, can't tell the pilot if he's getting too close to another plane, but I still need to be there, at the window, watching. Just in case. I feel like I've been seated in the middle seat of a jumbo jet and I can't see out the window. Hate this feeling.

But oh, you darlings. I've received the BEST EMAILS this week. I feel such support, and love, and prayers. (I told Mom about the prayers coming in for her, from all around the world, and her face was surprised, and then she beamed. It was gorgeous.) Each email is like food to my soul, and even if I don't respond, know that I am incredibly moved by everything you've all shared with me this week.

I am so lucky to have so much support. I love my job. For many, many reasons, I love my job. They support me so much. From my bosses and management, to my peers (I got good, big bear hugs from coworkers and management alike today), to my friends (that's YOU!), it makes this time easier.

And because you're so good, I'll reward you with a sneak peek at the Little Mama sweater I finished at her bedside this week:

Es compleeet! More pics soon. Or kinda soon. When I can. You understand.

Candy-StripingMay 14, 2008

I was a candy-striper here, twenty-one years ago. I walked these very same halls in my pink-striped pleated dress. I loved that dress. To me, it had the cachet of historical reenactment. I was sure Florence Nightingale had worn something similar, when in fact I was wearing polyester circa 1986. But I loved the way I looked in the mirror. I looked like someone who knew what to do.

We had to wear white shoes with the dress. I was desperate to have a pair of big, clunky, brilliantly white nursing shoes, but I only had a pair of white tennis shoes from the discount store that had a thin red stripe running along the sides. I was ashamed of those red stripes.

The volunteer Auxiliary Ladies frightened me. Most were the age of the average patient, but they were so loud, so lively. Working in their pink pantsuits, monitoring flowers coming in and out, directing people to the right beds: it was their social hour. They had cocktails after their shifts. I wanted to be like them, but I was about sixty years shy of being able to join their ranks. 

My favorite part was pouring water. Keeping the water jugs full. I was good at that. I liked writing down how many cc's I poured, enjoyed encouraging hydration (still do). I liked delivering food trays. I liked the little old ladies who didn't really know who I was but wanted to chat anyway. I was painfully shy (hard to imagine now), but I tried to chat back.

My least favorite part was seeing people in pain, people who somehow thought the fourteen-year old in front of them could actually help them, could give them medical advice, could help them to the commode. I would apologize and scuttle backwards like a candy-cane crab. I'd fetch a nurse and feel stupid.

Mom's still in the hospital today. She has congestive heart failure, atrial fibrulation, and extreme hypercalcemia. She might be doing a bit better today; I'm not quite sure. She ain't getting out of here today, that's for sure. It's hard. Knitting is good. Nurses are even better than knitting, I tell you that (one in the ICU showed me the shawl she was working on in her down-time (Mom was their only patient that night) -- it was good to bond with a knitter).

While I'm writing this, Mom is asleep and I'm showing Bethany how to knit socks on two circs. What do people do in the hospital without knitting? Unimaginable. Thank god Mom doesn't have a roommate yet. Most people, we understand, watch TV in the hospital. I can think of almost nothing worse. Movies, sure. But no TV. It seems like such an assault.

The Auxiliary Ladies are still out in full force, although they're less intimidating now, and now they're the age of my mother. One yesterday pointed out that tiny little mama lying in the bed took up almost no room, and then she commented that she, herself, was about the same age and size as Mom. For four seconds I was fiercely jealous that this tiny 67-year old volunteer was running around delivering flowers and Mom was lying in the hospital bed.

I haven't seen any candy-stripers walking the floor, although yesterday I saw one getting ready for her shift in the volunteer room. Looks like they don't wear dresses anymore, something that they're probably glad about. The girl was about fourteen or fifteen, and she sat alone in the room, wearing a pink striped shirt and white pants. She held up her cell phone and took a picture of herself. She grinned at the camera. If I'd had a cell phone back then, I'd have done the same thing.

Spring Forward May 13, 2008


Love it! I do! It's based (very, very loosely) on Thrifty Knitter's Spring Forward Fall Back pattern. But I got a tighter gauge than her, so I recalculated the neck and just went from there.

Yarn: 2nd Time Cotton, Knit One Crochet Two (recycled from new textile waste). 180 yds per skein, I used two of each color.

I had fun taking the photos to show you.


Then Digit and I got in a little spat.


He always wins.


Blood was not drawn but it was not for lack of trying.

Luckily, there are plenty of docile animals running loose in the house to pick up and play with.


Miss Idaho is smaller than any of our cats! Tiny! Practically a cell phone!


Harriet likes the cuddling.


Clara firmly disapproves.

Outrage This

Okay, I'm taking down this post. I've been overwhelmed with a WORLD of positive responses, from both you out there, as well as my peers and bosses. I was nervous when my bosses read it -- I didn't want to get in trouble of any sort, didn't want to get Dooced, and I'm so glad I didn't. As they pointed out to me, I didn't do anything wrong. However, I hate stirring up any kind of drama, so that outraged post I wrote made my heart flutter on a day when I didn't need that. But I'm so happy that I work for the best employer in the world. I have the ultimate support from everyone in my life. If one ugly emailer is jealous of my happiness, I can't do much about that, nor do I wish to. She just happened to get me on a bad day. And I know it must be hard living with that kind of vitriol in her heart.

And thank you, all.

Avoiding WritingMay 12, 2008

Fighting a migraine for two days now. It hasn't got me, but the migraine aura has me by the neck. Feels like someone digging their fingers into the back of my head -- not painful, but not pleasant. The visual migraine got me yesterday, which is always kind of interesting. It doesn't hurt -- I just lose my vision in one eye or the other for about fifteen minutes. I stopped picking up stitches at that point for a while.

I couldn't sleep last night. It was probably all the caffeine I'd taken in pill form all day for the looming headache. Got up and read from about 1am to almost 6am. Finally fell asleep and dreamed that a huge cat, bigger than a man, dressed like a Viking, was living in the back of our house, controlling Clara, making her forge an IronMan-like suit by breathing fire. Poor old sweatshop Clara.

Okay. I'm going to try writing on the front porch. Hopefully Lala left me some coffee. If she didn't, I'll make a latte and work on the script for an hour or two. Then I will go to Target. We use a baby-gate to keep the animals out of the carpeted part of the house. Yesterday, while speeding on caffeine, I cleaned everything, washed everything, mopped the whole house. I took a flying leap, trying to jump over a still-wet part of the floor while simultaneously unlatching and opening the gate I was trying to jump through. Strangely enough, that wasn't a good idea. As I fell, I made a conscious decision to take the gate out in my fall, rather than twisting and trying to save it. In breaking the gate, I saved my own ass. It's rather sobering to splinter a nice wooden gate, though. That's too much caffeine. That meant it was time to sit and knit.

Now. To the porch. Carefully.

SundayMay 11, 2008


We live at sea level. Lala sent me this picture. She rode there today, training. From sea level. I'm tired just thinking about it. I think I'll have another cup of coffee and sink deeper into my armchair.

Deep in some knitting. DEEP. Finished a sweater I haven't told you about, and I LOVE IT, but I'm not photographing it until I take a shower and put on lipstick, and since it's Sunday and La's on a training ride to Oregon or something, I'm in no hurry.

I steeked the MomRedux sweater yesterday. I just cut. Yep. I did. I plan to handstitch the armholes before I cut, but the front steek, I just cut. Just kept snipping. Not even a drink or a lie-down after, as EZ sagely recommends.

And it worked.

Now I want to knit more, so I will. Just wanted stop in and tell you about Pandora. Are you listening to Pandora? I've been listening off and on for more than a year, but I'm really into it now. It's what they call a Music Genome Project -- they analyze each song  (all songs, it seems like), break them apart and put them back together next to songs that are similar. You tell them your favorite song or artist, and they make (FOR FREE) a radio station just for you. You can give the thumbs-up to the songs you love, and thumbs-down for the ones you don't (and those won't replay). It is the BEST way to find new music, new artists that suit you to the ground and that you've never heard of.

Lala and I love it so much that we put an old laptop into our record cabinet, so we can pipe whichever station we're into that day all over the house. I'm now in my room, listening to a station she made, Blossom Dearie.

Ooh! They have a typepad connection I just found -- it's in my sidebar, to the left. Give it a listen. Click on one of my stations over there to try it out -- you might like the Y'allternate one if you're feeling rockin' folky, or Blossom Dearie, if you're feeling jazzy. The Electro Music Radio is what I listen to while writing the screenplay I'm working on, might not be the best one to sample, but go for it if you want to. You have to register to listen, but they have good privacy policies and don't spam or sell lists. Then just jump in and make your own stations!

(Lala just sent me this, from the TOP of Mount Diablo):


WorkingMay 9, 2008

is what I have been doing. 15 hour shift yesterday (which is better than the 18 hour shift that loomed imminent for a while). Yawn.

So I'm at work. Boring. The most exciting thing that's happened so far this morning is that I ate my eggs. I love a good hard-boiled egg. With salt. And because I work in close quarters with four other people, I announce it when I come out of the kitchen and slice the eggs at my workstation (a whiff of eggs, without notice, can be alarming). "Eggs on the floor!"

"Eggs on the floor," they repeat. It used to be a joke, but now it's just a thing, as things go. I find the fact that we say it seriously quite amusing.

Still. Boring. Ooh! I thought I had nothing to show you, but I just remembered I DO have one picture for you.


This is the MomRedux sweater! Hers is obviously on the left, since it's all fancy with a collar and all. Mine is the darker one (that's what I get for trying to remember the color while ordering yarn online), and while I added one repeat in the middle section of dots to add a tiny bit of length (okay, that was accidental), otherwise, it's spot on. Size, width, patterns, everything. I'm really proud of it, happy with my copying-ability.

So happy that I'm kind of scared to move on. It's all done, just need to steek it, attach the arms, and make the collar/facing/button-bands.

I used a terribly sticky yarn, Jamieson's Spindrift, so for some ungodly reason I felt confident enough to make a really narrow steek. 6 stitches. First, SIX STITCHES? Why didn't I make it an odd number, so that I actually HAD a center stitch to cut down? Gah. Second, I'm not sure how I want to reinforce the steeks. I'm tempted to trust in the godlike powers of wool and just CUT away without reinforcement, because the thought of trying to machine-sew a straight line with my machine along that dark wool fills me with pre-planned frustration (and the steek is rather puckered in places -- wouldn't be easy to sew). I tried to reinforce it with crochet, my usual method, but the stitches are SO dark and small, I just couldn't do it. Man, I know I should at least machine-sew the armholes. Yeah, I can do that. That would be easier, actually, since those steeks aren't as puckered as the front one.

Anyone ever had trouble with this yarn running away after a steek? Can I just cut the center one? Please?

Also, Lala gives thanks. Yarn-related thanks! And I must mention this: last night when I got home, she was trippin' out, saying she was unmotivated and not driven enough. She said this WHILE RIDING A BIKE IN OUR LIVING ROOM. On a trainer. For an hour and half. With no one making her do it. She is crazy but very, very cute. 

Big Ole ThanksMay 4, 2008

Oh, you people always knock our socks right off. My feet, they are cold and sock-less because you are so generous. She's already (!) broken her target amount, but don't let that stop you from donating to a very worthy cause or entering the raffle if you still want to. And if you haven't read it already, go read Lala's post about her ride. She spent a lot of time and thought composing it, and I think she was a bit chagrined to find that my friends (that's YOU) just read my post and went and donated. I think she thought she'd have to talk you into it, so she makes a compelling argument. But the Code of the Knitter says Donate First, Knit Later. The faster we do something nice for someone else, the faster we get to the knitting.

Thank you. Thank you SO much.

We had a fundraising party for her this weekend -- it went well. My sister's fabulous band Deadpan Alley played, and they were great (you can hear songs here -- I'm really fond of East Coast Boy). They were followed by The Whoreshoes, who looked and sounded oh-so-fine:

    Music in our own backyard

    Camilla, Joni and Diana rockin' out

    Diana, Emily, and Lala

I'm sad I didn't get any shots of Lala playing the bass, her new favorite instrument. Since I think we might have to give away three or four of the animals to make room in our house for an upright, I'm trying not to encourage her new passion for it. But she was good at it. She really was.


Ideas gleaned from the interwebs, posted here so I can find them again.

#1 - Caprese sticks. Thread a small piece of fresh mozzarella (TJ's had tiny mozza balls in a tub), a cherry tomato (heirloom cherry toms from TJ's!), a little bit of basil, and another small piece of mozzarella on a toothpick. Do this many, many times. Place them on a platter. Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. DEELISHUS. This is my favorite salad, now on a stick.

#2 - Bacon-wrapped figs. People freaked out. No, they did. People who don't like figs freaked out. Take one package of bacon (mine had 16 pieces), and cut all pieces in half. I got a tub of black figs from TJ's. I pulled the stem off each, wrapped a half-piece of bacon around it, stuck a toothpick through it and cooked them at 350 for about an hour. Baconey goodness with a sticky-sweet middle. It was AMAZING. I want them for dinner every night. They disappeared. I will make twice the amount next time.

Now I am tired. I saw many crazy-interesting things at the Maker Faire, took no pictures, but saw nice readers (Steampunk Amy is adorable!), and left happy. Tomorrow I am on-call, so I might have to suddenly get up at 4:30am, so I should head to bed on that off-chance. So, goodnight. And thank you.

    Sister Christy and me. Half of Deadpad Alley! (Took one of myself and sister Bethany, too. She claim I never post those ones, but it's only because I looked somewhat rabid in it. She was adorable, as usual. You'll have to take my word for it.)

LIFECYCLEMay 1, 2008

Thanks, y'all, for your thoughts. We really, truly appreciate it. Besos.

But now, let's move on to happier things. Like Lala riding the AIDS ride!

Do you know how insanely crazy she is for signing up for this?

SEVEN DAYS on a bicycle, riding from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Dude, it gives me a butt-cramp just to drive that far. I'm not kidding.

But seriously, she has inspired me. I have seen her, the Queen of Sleeping-In, get up at 6:30am on Sunday mornings, week after week. And she is NOT a morning person. At all. It's like waking a hibernating bear, only the bear would be more jolly about it, probably.

It must be really irritating to her that I mock her pain by telling her how getting up at 6:30 is sleeping in by more than two hours for me. I'd want to smack me, and the fact that she doesn't is just more proof that she has been a real trouper during this whole training thing. Then I roll over and go back to sleep, and she goes and rides up and down mountains.

She has this huge dream of doing something big, something good. But during the grueling training she's sometimes doubted whether or not she'll actually be able to do it. Especially after strong winds, bad falls, and sandwich stops that fail to materialize.

But I've never doubted her ability, physical strength, or mental determination, not for one second. And this is what I can't wait for: For her to finish. Because I'll find her at the finish line and tell her I told her so.

My sweet chickens, she still needs to reach her donation goal. She wants to raise $3,000 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. She's half-way there now -- would you like to help? 

Can I interest you in a little raffle?

A pair of handknit socks! That I will knit during the week of the ride from the comfort of some nice cushy chair. For YOU, knit by me! In whatever color you like. They'll be nice, simple socks, the kind I love to make, and they'll fit you great because they'll be made with love. (Even if you have dozens of handknit socks that you made yourself, a pair by someone else always feels different. Feels good.)

Every ten dollars buys you a chance, so for $100 you get 10 chances to win, for $50 you get 5 chances. For $5 you might not get a chance at the raffle, but you'll probably get into heaven. Any amount, small or large, will change lives for the better. And we know as knitters that little things add up: stitches lined up next to each other make a sweater, donations lined up together make a difference in the world.

Lala's pledge page is here (LOLCAT AND HARRIET WILL MEET YOU THERE - click for cute even if you can't give). Send me an email at yarnagogo@gmail.com to tell me how many chances to sign you up for (if you've already donated, send me a note and I'll pop you on the list), and we'll draw a name right before the ride. Then if you win, I'll knit your socks while Lala rides.

And thanks. Again.  (Also, lala blogged about it, too. That's probably relevant.)