That’s right. The Zweig is finished at last. The Mother of Cats stayed in bed all Thursday with me knitting away on it while listening to a book for her evening book club event, when suddenly, it was done! After hours of being forced to stay off the sweater it was suddenly a nice little blanket for me. Good job, Mother of Cats!
Oh, no. The Mother of Cats was just messing with me. Why doesn’t she take my needs more seriously? Within minutes of binding off the last sleeve she had dumped the whole mess of yarn into a sink and covered it with water. Why does she do these things?
I had just started to paw the wet sweater into a nice cushy bed for myself when the Mother of Cats freaked out, shrieked, and chased me off. She covered my sweater with another layer of towels after that to let it dry overnight. I slept on top of the towels for awhile with a couple of my toys, but it just wasn’t the same.
Today she moved it to a screen to dry some more, and this afternoon, still damp and with strings hanging off of it, she took it out for a picture. Did she let me play with the strings? Did she let me go outside with her? NO! SHE DID NOT! I do not understand why I am being neglected this way.
The Mother of Cats is kind of moping around now that the sweater and her book is done; maybe she needs some catnip. I’m finally getting more attention and cookies, but last night she began to dig through the yarn stash and organizing stuff into bins labeled “Christmas Knitting” and “Fingerless Mitts”. I helped her with that as much as I could and even got some red yarn rolled under the guest bed. I’m such a good helper! I’m pretty sure that she will be busy on new projects, but right now I’m getting more attention. As I should.
I’m such a good boy.
Can I have some cookies now?
Notes from the Mother of Cats:
This sweater was cast on the last day of summer, and I am so pleased to report that it is done just in time for cold, blustery weather coming in next week.
The sweater is Zweig by Caitlin Hunter. I knitted it in two cashmere blend yarns that were just a joy to work with. The blue even has some silk in it! I was torn about what color to combine with the blue but eventually settled on the gold as it made the blue come alive best.
Last night I returned to a shawl that had been neglected for a months. Soon after casting on I had decided I didn’t like it very much; now I can’t wait to get it done and to cast on another. My head is swimming with different color combinations for more shawls. Maybe some for Christmas?
Oh, yeah. Christmas gift knitting. Maybe it is time to get going on that. I usually start panic knitting after Thanksgiving, but why not start the panic a little earlier this year? Let’s see… I have a cowl to do, several hand warmers, some stars and candle covers, towels to weave and dishcloths to make, quilting that was put off from last year, and…
You know that I had to buy another skein of this yarn. Last Wednesday I threw caution to the wind (I already have a stash that will never be exhausted in my lifetime…), bought more Colorful October, and gleefully cast on to knit a pair of arm warmers to match the socks. I’ve got to hurry here: fall won’t last forever.
Hey, notice any difference between the colors in the arm warmer and the socks? Yep. The colors in the arm warmer really did pool, huh. I kind of expected that something like this would happen because… stitch count. The arm warmers that I have been knitting for myself are knit from the elbow down towards the wrist with a stitch count that decreases from 72 to 64. Look at what a difference a few stitches made.
Huge difference in appearance as I came down the warmer towards the wrist. The part of the warmer that will show while I’m wearing it under a sleeved top will exactly match my socks, so I’m happy with the look.
I’m working out my pattern for these arm warmers. They are pretty darn simple knitting, and each time I knit myself a pair I record all of my changes in my project notes on Ravelry. If you want to make yourself a pair too, feel free to check out what I’ve done and cast on a pair for yourself too.
I’m still knitting away on my Zweig sweater, but I have to admit that I’ve been drawn off project by the fantastic weather we are enjoying here in Colorado. The days are warm and sunny with a clear blue sky; I’ve moved all of the plants back outside to enjoy themselves before the next frost.
So when I saw this skein of yarn at my favorite LYS, Colorful Yarns, I had to have it! This yarn, which is dyed for the shop by Chasing Rabbits Fiber Co, is one of a series of monthly yarns. This yarn, of course, is called Colorful October. Yay! This is the yarn for me!
Things only got better after I opened up the skein…
I am always a little intimidated by skeins with so much color going on… I want the colors to show their stuff without pooling or looking muddy. I debated on whether to go big (a shawl) or stay small (socks), and finally just cast on and started on some socks using my favorite vanilla sock pattern.
I should have these done in a couple of days and then back to the Zweig sweater I will go. I’ll be wearing my new socks, too, while I finish up the sweater over the next week.
This sweater is really nice. The yarn that the Mother of Cats is using is part cashmere and silk: my favorite to take a nap on. Every time she puts it down I move right in for a quick nap!
I must say, even though she puts the knitting down pretty often (nap time!), we have been making pretty good progress. Look at where we are this morning…
I’m really not a fan of the sleeve knitting: every time the Mother of Cats turns the knitting the whole sweater whaps me in the head. It really gets a little old after a while. She should be more careful, don’t you think? Still, this is a really nice sweater, even when it is whapping me in the head instead of being left on the couch for me to take a nap on. Here are some of my favorite details:
This afternoon the Mother of Cats plans to do some binge watching on Netflix while she continues on the sleeve. Drat. Maybe I will spend my time watching for birds and the enemy cat in the back window. My poor head is getting really tired of all the abuse. As soon as she gets up to make dinner, though, the sweater is mine! Cat naps will be happening again.
I’m such a good boy.
Can I have some cookies now?
Notes from the Mother of Cats:
This sweater is Zweig by Caitlin Hunter. The yarns that I am using and other information can be found in my project notes on Ravelry.
I blended the skeins of yarn together using helix knitting for about 2 inches at the transitions. This is the video (posted by Pepperly) that I used to figure out how to do the changes, and I actually knitted an entire round with each yarn and then just made the switch and tensioned the way she described it in the video. Worked great, the switch is smooth, and the knitted fabric feels great.
I started this sweater on the first day of fall. I hoped to get it done before the first snow, but that happened last week before I even got to the bottom of the sweater’s body. It is nice and warm today, and with some luck the sweater will be done before our next serious cold snap.
This really snuck up on me fast; one day I’m kicking myself for planting cold weather pansies that immediately died in a September heat wave, and the next I’m bringing in all of the outdoor potted plants to protect them from an overnight frost. Here in Colorado there weren’t many transition days and the heat pretty much kept up until the first snowflake arrived. Last week the dreaded word SNOW first appeared in the nightly weather forecast and I immediately dragged out a couple of projects that had been languishing over the summer.
These fingerless mitts were made for an old student who was badly injured last month in a accident on her way to work. She is still on crutches, the cold weather is on the way, and I simply didn’t quite know what to do for her other than contributing to her Go Fund Me campaign. Oh yeah. I knit! I was able to produce some soft comfy mitts from some Yakity Yak yarn (Greenwood Fiberworks) in the stash. The mitts are now hers, and I hope so much that she continues to make an amazing recovery. The project notes can be found here, and I wrote up the pattern that I used for these simple mitts in an earlier project’s notes that you can access if you want to make some of these too.
I really love mitts, but sometimes I just need more: arm warmers!! I’ve been adapting the Ärmelitas pattern from knitcats Design and for the latest version I decided to try tubular cast on. Oh, my. It can be a little confusing, but with some great help from the great tutorial on Purl Soho‘s site I was up and running fairly quickly. Look at all these tutorials that Purl Soho has posted! Knitting gold!! I bookmarked this right away, and maybe you will want to also.
I’m really happy with these arm warmers, but I’m thinking that I want to make the ribbing a little longer at the top of the warmer to help it stay in place at the top of my arm. I wrote my pattern adjustments and you can find them on my project notes here.
Sunday the forecast is for SNOW, and this time it will probably be more than a few flakes. I am knitting like crazy on my latest sweater and I wound more yarn for another set of arm warmers. I’m starting to like tubular cast on. Someday I may be able to do it without staring at a computer screen while I work.
Have a good weekend everyone and don’t forget to knit!
p.s. I’m knitting a Zweig sweater from these yarns. I absolutely can’t wait to show it off!!
Wow. It is hard to believe it, but it has been more than 4 years since my diagnosis: Limited systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) and Sjogren’s disease. Time just flies when you are having fun, right? Seriously, I have been reflecting for a few weeks about what to write to mark the end of the fourth year. Should I write about how strange a dichotomy scleroderma is: people tell me that I look good, but what they can’t see is how my entire life is organized around accommodating my illnesses. Maybe I should write about how I have developed a Zen-like patience as I hit each roadblock; why worry about things you can’t change when in the course of time all will become more clear? Maybe I should talk about growth. Personal growth in the face of a heartless disease as I came to terms with my own ability to become an active member of my treatment team and to assert myself in the face of medical experts.
Done! Personal growth it is!
When I was first diagnosed I really did go through a time of sadness and grief. It just came in waves for me as I began to figure out that systemic sclerosis and Sjogren’s are both incurable and difficult to manage. Then I realized that they might be disabling. Then it finally dawned on me that they might be fatal. To my horror I discovered that the 10-year survival rate was 60%. There would never, ever, be a “better”, I thought. The best I can hope for is becoming stable and maybe getting some softening of my skin.
The great unknowns of scleroderma really wore me down. Doctors kind of dodged my questions or referred me to another doctor on the team. I was afraid, and I didn’t want to make too much of a fuss because I was dependent on the medical specialists and I didn’t want to alienate them. I was struggling, weak, and truly a victim of my disease.
Flash forward 4 years. Things have changed. I began to keep a food log and journal and I worked out dietary changes that helped me. I participated in a self-management study, and I attended a couple of conferences. I remembered that I was trained to be a scientist, and I employed logic and reason in my scleroderma life. I spent a lot of time with Doctor Google and reading research papers at PubMed. I fired a rheumatologist, found another one, and convinced my primary care physician to meet with me regularly and to filter all the test results and doctors notes into a cohesive action plan. My care improved as I communicated better with my doctors and they developed a good sense of me and the other doctors on the team. My power over scleroderma grew as I faced down crisis after crisis. I may not conquer this disease, but by golly I will be brave and give it a good whacking!
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. I have to get routine blood testing to make sure that I am tolerating the drugs that I’m on well. I went for the blood draw two weeks ago, and a couple of days later I got a phone call. There was a problem: a liver enzyme was suddenly elevated above normal ranges. I was told to head on over to urgent care to get checked out. I’m a compliant patient, so that is what I did. This is what happened when I met with the doctor in urgent care.
Doc: You’re fine. It’s just a bad test result.
Me: I have been experiencing worse (crushing) fatigue for the last two weeks as I’ve been fighting a cold and my muscle pain is pretty bad. I have been staying in bed two days recovering for every day up.
Doc: I think that we should put you on prednisone.
Me: I am very nervous about that. I’m already pretty immunosuppressed, and my pulmonologist has specifically told me to refuse steroids if I hit the ER.
Doc: Then we should start you on Cymbalta for the fibromyalgia pain.
Me: That is a drug that I’ve seen advertised that seems to have a lot of side effects. I just came through a rough patch because I was overmedicated this spring, and I’m nervous about adding another drug due to possible kidney or liver complications.
Doc: Can I at least offer you some antidepressants since you say you have trouble getting out of bed?
Me: I have fatigue not depression. It’s part of my illness.
Doc: Most chronically ill people have depression…
Me: Yep. I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression in the past. This isn’t depression.
Doc: But you will feel better.
Me: Hey, I’m not here seeking help with my illness this afternoon. I got sent here by rheumatology because of a high liver enzyme result, which you feel we should ignore, and I have chronic kidney disease. You want to prescribe a drug that will be cleared by one of those two organs? I’m not comfortable with any more medications without talking to my other doctors first. (I start edging towards the door to escape this frustrated pill pusher… maybe he just is excited to have a patient with a rare disease and wants to contribute, but I am out of here!)
Seriously, I do feel like I am living in a soap opera half the time that is being directed by my bossy cat. A soap opera staring yarn, of course!
That little episode put me back into bed for another day, but I was strong, I felt informed about my illnesses, and I didn’t allow a strange doctor who was dismissive of test results to prescribe me new medications. I have grown. My thinking about what is acceptable medical care has crystalized, and I feel empowered. I will talk about these drugs with my current team, and there will be a consensus decision before I start anything new.
Over the weekend I decided to double my dose of krill oil and to eat a banana every single day. 10 days later I am over the cold, I feel much better, my muscle pain is almost gone, and it seems I am through the flare. Yippee!
So, four years into this ugly disease where am I at? I am stable! The drugs that I am on have greatly increased survival rates for systemic sclerosis patients. My skin has softened some and I have pretty good function. My Raynaud’s is well controlled. My lungs, heart and kidneys have improved and my hypertension has vanished. My GI tract continues to rule my life, but I have gotten better control with a careful diet. Fatigue and pain stalk me continually, but I was thrilled to hear this week that my eyes have also improved since my ophthalmologist started me on krill oil. Hug a krill, everyone!
I have grown, and I am stronger for it. There will be many more adventures and bumps along the scleroderma road, but I am good. My priorities have shifted, and my values have clarified. I value the small things, have lost interest in making money, and budget my time ruthlessly. Scleroderma as a personal growth plan. Who knew?
Tomorrow I go in for the repeat blood tests to see if that enzyme is now back into normal ranges.
This has been going on for far too long, and I certainly haven’t been getting all of the attention that I deserve, but I am happy to announce that the Mother of Cats and I have finally finished her Sipila sweater.
The picture would have been better if she had included me in the shot, but sometimes the Mother of Cats can be so selfish.
It’s late, so we are heading back to bed as soon as I get my cookies.
I’m such a good boy.
Notes from the Mother of Cats:
This sweater is Sipila by Caitlin Hunter. You can find my project notes on Ravelry here.
I was concerned about the floats early on in the knitting so I switched to catching all of the floats while knitting. It slowed me down, but I think that the fabric has more even stitches and I won’t have to worry about snagging floats while wearing the sweater. You can see how nice the fabric is in the picture of MacKenzie above. That was before blocking.
I opened all the skeins and organized them in the order of brightest to darkest. I started the sweater using the brightest skein in the yoke, and then faded the skeins together using helix knitting.
I knit 6” of stockinette on the sleeve, and then another 32 rounds instead of starting the chart with the repeats of rounds 1-8. The chart was started with round 9 and the sleeve was finished following the directions. The length is perfect!!
The 4th skein was too bright at one end of the skein, and too dark at the other for the 2nd sleeve, so I had to helix knit all the stockinette section with the remains of the other three skeins to make the sleeve match.
I finished the sweater at the length suggested in the pattern, but I was unhappy with the length. I went back and ripped out that ribbing and then added another 2.5 inches to the body of the sweater using the ripped back yarn and the dark end of the last skein blended together with more helix knitting. The final ribbing was done with the darkest skein of yarn.
The finished sweater is exactly as long as my sleeves. How cool is that?