Angela is my sister-in-law, the wife of my youngest brother, he who is closest to me in age of all my siblings. To the best of my memory, I have never made her a present before, certainly not since we were kids, as we pretty much were when we first met, I was about seventeen and she only a year or two older. At that time she was studying maths at Cambridge, where my brother was studying economics. She always was and still is quietly, doggedly and mind-bogglingly clever, and since the time she left that place and married my brother she has worked in aerospace, sending pioneering satellites into space and who-knows-what, travelling the world to do so. She and my brother are loyal, devoted and have grown together wondrously, and I respect, admire, like and love them both, yet I really haven't spent much time with them over the years. I generally try to remember her birthday, but this year, with the kids being here and all, it passed me by until a few days later.
I found the couple of balls of this rather odd discontinued yarn in Phildar's basket again, and bought it without a plan, then found the drop stitch scarf pattern and knew they were made for each other, though at the time I didn't know for whom. The technique is compelling and satisfying, counting up and down and back and forth all the time, but in a way and with a rhythm that quite quickly becomes happily lodged in the mind like a dance, with every third row winding the yarn round the needle, once, then twice, then three times, then twice, then once again, then six straight stitches, and so on, then in the next row you purposely drop all those wound round stitches you've just made, which feels kind of risky and exciting (yes really, well to me anyway, I lead a quiet life...) and the pattern falls out of the yarn in open loops and waves.
Initially, though, it's not all that visible:
so you have to block it quite aggressively:
which I did on the line, with the help of clothes pegs and a bag of onions,
so it finishes up nicely opened out, and the scarf itself is somewhat longer.
Observing I'd missed Angela's birthday, the final serendipitous piece dropped like into place as happily as did the stitches; the yarn with its subtle colours now suggested to me fine wires of complex alloys and rare earth metals, the wave patterns maths and graphs and other arcane things...
Angela wrote back, a lovely warm e-mail, thanking me graciously: the yarn and pattern, she said, made her think of sea spray (I later learned this particular stitch pattern is sometimes called the sea foam drop stitch). All was well with them, she said, but she didn't know if it was an age thing, but work seemed to take up more of life than she liked; time at home and with family seemed to be more and more important but there seemed to be less and less of it.
I invited myself to dinner with them next month.