MacKenzie Speaks: Sweater Skeleton Update

Hi. I’m MacKenzie,

Cat
The Mother of Cats has been working really hard on her sweater for the Ravellenics competition. I’ve been helping her all week. She is upset about all the cat hair in the sweater: totally ungrateful!!

It has been almost a whole week of knitting on the sweater. She is mostly cheerful, but there have been a few incidents where she got snappy about me chomping yarn and chasing the needles. It is so hard to support her when she gets like this, but Yellow Boy and I continue to contribute as much as we can. Really, we don’t need all of our fur; happy to share.

Cat and knitting.
The sweater is now so big that is covers me while I’m sitting in her lap.
Cat and knitting.
See what I’m talking about?

Last night towards the end of the ice skating event she spread out the sweater to admire her work and started making sad noises. Really sad noises. Yellow Boy came running to see what was wrong and if she was giving away food.

Cat
What has happened here?

She took the sweater off the needles and did a lot of ripping. RIPPING! WOOHOO!!! I just love ripping! Lots of yarn flying. The ball got away from her and I chased it across the floor. The issue seemed to be about the pockets being on the BACK of the sweater instead of the front, but I have to tell you it was major cat party time. Yay! We cats even chased each other around the house afterwards and Yellow Boy’s fur was just flying everywhere!

Picking up stitches with cat supervision.
Once the party was over I helped her pick up her stitches again. Ugh. BORING… I closely supervised so she wouldn’t make any more mistakes.

Finally she got all the stitches back into order, moved her markers and got ready to start knitting again. This time the pockets will be on the front of the sweater where they belong.

But instead of doing that she packed it all up, got an ice cream bar and went to bed. Seriously? Hello… I think we should get back to work here!

Nope. She stayed in bed. The sweater is still packed up but she plans to get back to work tonight when the Olympics start. Downhill racing. Ice Skating. Skeleton. We will knit then.

Right now I need some cookies!!

I’m such a good boy.

>^..^<

Note from the Mother of Cats: The sweater is Cushman by Isabell Kraemer. My Ravelry notes are here.

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Ravellenics Update: Sweater Skeleton Start

I have to be honest here, I was afraid to commit to the Ravellenics. Knitting under a deadline is stressful. Making a sweater can be stressful. Joining a team is stressful. I mean, why should I put myself into the position of committing to something when my overarching goal in life is to maintain a stress-free bubble for myself within the chaos of life. I just emerged from the mother of all flares; best to stay low key.

Yarn
Look at this great Malabrigo Rios. It has been making a ruckus since before Christmas demanding that I make it into a sweater. With pockets. Who am I to argue with a great yarn?

Well, some of you guys really encouraged me to give it a go. Huge shout out to muddlingthroughlifesite and nothingbutknit2 who convinced me to go poke around to see what was going on with Ravellenics. Oh, my goodness. This looks both overwhelming and horribly exciting at the same time. So much information. So many groups and events. SO MUCH FUN!!! There is an event called Sweater Skeleton. Head first! Yay!! You know that I needed to jump into this action. I just needed to find a group and a team.

Hello Chronic Bitches group. You were just what I needed. Who knew there was a group on Ravelry for people with chronic medical conditions to share and support each other? I am now a Chronic Bitch knitting as a member of their team. I have to be honest here… Village Hopelessly Overcommitted was a pretty good fit, too. A support group for people who just keep on buying new needles and casting on while hunting for sources of chocolate to munch on. See… a great fit for me. Still, since I was so worried about staying flare free for the whole 15 days of Ravellenics, I went with Chronic Bitches.

Sweater
I got my yarn wound and all kitted up so I could cast on and begin knitting as soon as the event opened, which was at the start of the Olympics Opening Ceremony. Oops. That’s 4am my time. Okay, knitting started a little later than that on Friday. This sweater is Cushman by Isabell Kraemer.

I binge watched the Olympics and knitted all weekend. Yesterday I reached the point where the sleeves are put onto holders and I am now racing down the body of the sweater.

Sweater in progress.
The colorway of this yarn is “Cirrus Grey”, and the knitted fabric does look a little like a rain cloud. I’m really loving the look of this.

So, I am just rocking along at this point. My gauge is spot on, and I haven’t run into any issues with the yarn or the pattern. It was cold and snowy all weekend, so staying in to knit was perfect. My disease is behaving itself and even the cats are cooperating.

Yesterday I took a little break to go shop the stash to put together the yarn for a couple of new projects. “What the Fade” shawls, to be exact. Crazy. I’m dreaming of new shawls while knitting along on this sweater under a deadline. I yearn to cast on some cute socks. My arms want Valentine’s Day arm warmers.

I may be a Chronic Bitch, but I so belong in Village Hopelessly Overcommitted!!

I’m off to find some chocolate…

Pre-Ravellenics Sock Update

Last week I knitted like crazy to try to clear some WIPs before the start of Ravellenics. I have to be honest; right up until the night before I was not sure I was going to sign up with a team and enter my sweater into an event with Ravellenics, but in the end I did. Oh, but that is another post. This post is about the socks that flew off my needles last week.

So, here they are. I finished my simple vanilla socks first. Easy-peasy.

Socks
Here they are. Simple, cute, in a yarn that acts like it will wear like iron. The yarn is madelinetosh twist light, the first time I have used it, and I am liking it. It is really elastic, flashes the colors, and is nice and cushiony on my feet. My Ravelry notes are here.
Socks
They fit great! It was cold and snowy here this weekend and I wore these guys. I’m really happy with them.

My second pair of socks were more labor intensive. The pattern required following a chart with lots of stitch increases/decreases, so I was slower. Still, I did get one of the socks done and the second one cast on so I wouldn’t abandon it.

Sock
It’s hard to see the pattern detail because of the kinky yarn (I unravelled it from a sock blank), but it is there. There is a diagonal rib that travels down the foot of the sock. Cute, but slow to knit. I can’t wait to finish and wear these guys. Ravelry notes are here.

So that’s it. All the WIPs (the unfinished sock and a Mixology shawl) went into limbo while I launched into my traditional Olympics sweater. I started it on Friday and knitted on it all weekend. Wait until I show off my project and progress. Wait until you hear about the group I found of Ravelry. I am so excited and having fun.

Stay tuned. I can’t wait to show off my stuff.

On My Needles: Two Socks and a Scarf

I’ve been knitting like crazy and hatching plans. Why, you ask? Well… it’s Olympics time! Time for a great sweater (or two). I’m so excited about getting some serious knitting done while watching the winter games.

Except… I have these WIPs lurking downstairs bleating pitifully. It really is sad. Somehow they know that they are on the verge of being abandoned for weeks to come. For the last few days I’ve taken their cries to heart and have been knitting on them like crazy. Here they are:

Sock
These are simple vanilla socks in the pattern by Rachel Coopey called “Dave“. The yarn is a really nice sock yarn from madelinetosh called twist light. This is a simple pattern. Don’t you think I should get these done before Friday night?
Sock
These socks have been languishing for way too long. Another Rachel Coopey pattern, “Eugene“, they are being knitted from a sock blank dyed by Bonkers. The sock has an interesting pattern that you can’t see well because of the kinky yarn (hey, it was unraveled from the sock blank. It’s trying to be good…), but I think it will look really cool as soon as I finish knitting and block the socks.

Socks are fast. I can almost knit the Dave one while reading. If I work really steady on these I might, just might, get them done before the start of the Olympics.

That just leaves the Mixology Scarf. Right. That is so not going to happen.

Knitted fabric.
Here’s the beginning of the shawl. Nice, huh. I only have about 6 more feet of knitting to go. This is Mixology by Casapinka.

I love the colors of the shawl. I’m completely intrigued to discover how all the different colors will interact with each other. I couldn’t wait to get started on it the day that I cast on. I still am really happy about it.

Poor thing. It is going to be hibernating until I get those Olympic projects done. I have to knit a sweater. It is TRADITION!! I’ve done it for 4 years in a row, and I really need a new sweater. I live in Colorado, and March is typically our snowiest month. I’ll be rocking the new knit as I shovel my way free after some storm or another.

But during the storm I’ll be knitting on Mixology. Hang on, little guy. Your day is coming.

In case you’re wondering:

  • I do know about Ravellenics.  I struggle with a official, online commitment when it comes to knitting, but … maybe it is time for me to get my feet wet. There has to be a sweater event, right?
  • I’ve made an organizational chart of yarns, patterns, and am trying to decide which sweater to start on during the opening of the games. I have a wonderful bluish grey Rios yarn, but there is also some happy red Lamb’s Pride calling my name. Both are cold weather sweater yarns. Can you feel a new post coming?

 

Introducing Marfa

The local yarn store where I knit, Colorful Yarns, has a sample shawl displayed just inside the front door. My best knitting bud (that would be Deb, the utterly fearless and adventurous knitter) and I kept looking at it and trying it on. So cute. Just the right size. Brioche. Garter. Shawl lust occurred. The sample was knit in black and a golden yellow multi yarn… not my colors, but I could see the potential. The pattern, Marfa, and I went home together when I left that afternoon.

Black Elephant Yarns
The shawl really makes contrasting yarns shine. I already had these in my stash waiting: “we want to be a really cool shawl”, they cried.. I let them out of the bin to see how they would play together. The names of the colorways were a little worrisome (She’s Like Heroin and Wasting Light), but they got along okay.
Start of shawl.
Oh, don’t they get along well?

I’m not going to lie. The brioche and I had some misunderstandings at first. The pattern and I had some disagreements and mistakes were made. The cats insisted that they should get their claws into the squishy yumminess and had to be put into time out (AKA the garage).

Shawl
But I got over all of that as the shawl grew. So cool!

Last week I cast off, blocked, and took it out for some pictures.

Close up of knitted fabric.
I just love the way the turquoise in the black peaks through in the brioche.
Finished shawl.
And here is what the whole shawl looks like. This pattern is Marfa by This.Bird.Knits, and my project notes on Ravelry are here.

I haven’t woven in the ends yet, but it is done, right? Ha! I’ll get to it in the next day or so. I’m waiting for some snow.

Hope you all had a great weekend.

MacKenzie Speaks: My Blankie, My Blankie!!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Sleeping Cat
As you can see, I’m catching a little nap on the Mother of Cats’ Find Your Fade shawl. So nice. So squishy. Nothing quite like wool for a nap blanket.

For some reason the Mother of Cats gets upset when I sleep on her shawl. She keeps putting it on to wear and then she gets crabby when I try climb in and sleep on it on her lap. No matter how much I knead and purr she gets snippy about “snags” and pushes me off. She is so difficult sometimes. Really, she needs to learn to share her things a little better. Yellow Boy and I try to share when we’re sleeping on the shawl, after all.

Yarn
Look at these yarns that she got out to make me my own blanket!!

Last week she went digging though her yarn stash (Woohoo! I got to go exploring in the stash while she worked!) and found these leftovers from socks and shawls to make me a blanket.

Cat and knitting.
She used a really simple pattern just like the one that makes the wash clothes for the kitchen.
Cat and knitting.
She changed the colors every time she started to get bored, and did some fading of the colors while she worked. Not as nice as the Find Your Fade shawl, but still not bad.
Cat and knitting.
Last Friday she finally got my blankie all done for me. This is mine, mine, mine. All mine!! Forget what I said about sharing with Yellow Boy!
Sleeping cat.
Maybe the Mother of Cats isn’t that bad after all. Now I can sleep right next to her while she is wearing her shawl in bed knitting.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The cats have developed such an attachment to my Find Your Fade shawl (Okay, it is half silk/alpaca…) that they jump on it at every opportunity and even have taken to circling like sharks while I’m wearing it trying to find a loose end to sleep on. This is one big shawl, so there are ends for them to take advantage of.
  • I’ve been keeping their claws trimmed but they still managed to snag the shawl. Bad cats!! Well, not all that bad. They just need their own wool yumminess to sleep on. I wanted something simple that I could wash regularly.
  • The pattern I used was Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth on Ravelry. I knitted using yarn bits (including the silk/alpaca leftovers) and size 4 needles. The final blanket is MacKenzie sized.
  • I still need to make a blankie for Yellow Boy. For him I’ll double up the yarn and knit on size 6 needles; I have lots of projects calling my name, so he gets a marled blanket.
  • Yellow Boy on the Fade.
    See why I need to make another blanket?

The Scleroderma Chronicles: Rocking the Spoonie Clock

I, along with a lot of other people with chronic illnesses, consider myself to be a “spoonie”. If you’ve never heard of spoon theory, it is a metaphor that describes the intricate bargaining game that those of us with limited energy resources play everyday to balance our activities with the little gas in our tanks.  Christine Miserandino developed the spoon theory and described it in an essay on her blog in 2005; trying to explain to a friend how she managed fatigue with her lupus, she grabbed spoons and used them as props to represent discrete energy packets. If you only have a limited number of energy units (spoons) to use in a day, you are painfully aware of how many spoons everything that you do costs. A shower? That is a spoon. Walk to the mailbox to pick up the mail? Another spoon. If you want to grocery shop, plan ahead. When the spoons for the day are gone, you are done. If you planned badly, you are basically toast. Get ready for some bad days ahead.

Owner and her cat.
Wrapped in layers of knitted goods, struggling to stay warm, MacKenzie and I enjoy a late night purr break at the height of my flare in December.

Early last December I ran through my spoons and just kept going for another couple of days. I knew I was headed for trouble, but I was in a situation where there were no other options for me. Take care of today and deal with tomorrow when it comes, I told myself.

Oh dear. The flare arrived and fatigue descended with a vengeance. I slept 10-12 hours a night and collapsed in exhaustion for a nap at least twice a day. If energy is counted in spoons, I was down to only about 10 for the day. Not only were the spoons my problem; it appeared that as soon as I got onto my feet and went into motion an internal clock started running. No matter what I did, I could not go more than 2.5 hours without a nap.

Christmas shopping!! AARRGGG!!!

Thank goodness for the internet. I made plans and checked the availability of items I wanted to buy using my phone while in bed. I made sure stores close to me carried the items that I wanted. I made shopping lists in a little spiral notebook that I carry with me (hello… brain fog!!) to help me remember what I’m looking for while in the stores. I planned shopping routes that were short loops that would take me to three stores/stops max and then get me home before my time and energy ran out. I planned the trips for times when the parking lots would be almost empty so I wouldn’t have to walk far.

So, one day I planned and cooked food for the week. Who knew making spaghetti was so exhausting? Before I could get the dishwasher loaded the timer on my spoonie clock went off and I was done.

The next day I made one of the loops. Whew. I got right up from the nap, started up the car and headed off to Kaiser for my monthly blood testing. Then on to Target… hurry, hurry, it has already been an hour. I finished that loop at the book store where I shared a laugh with a mom who was making the same stops as me on her own shopping route. She had also gone to the public library, though. She looked at me kind of weird when I said I had decided to not go to the library as it was too far to walk in from the parking lot there. Ugh. No way was I going to explain about the spoons to her. No time. My clock was ticking; I was at the 2 hour mark and had to check out and drive home. Hurry, hurry. I’m now having trouble walking because my legs don’t really want to go… Brain fog is starting to close in and my head feels buzzy…

Home. Nap. I didn’t even take the packages out of the car until after the nap.

Two more days, two more loops, and I had gotten everything and even got stuff mailed out on one of the loops. Careful planning, lots of patience, and an acknowledgement of my limitations went a long way in getting me through everything. Did you know that if you go grocery shopping late at night there is no line. True fact!

For more than a month I was careful with the spoons and never ran down my spoonie clock. I knitted in bed. I ate my little pre-planned meals and ordered things off the internet when I could. I took lots of naps, kept up on my meds, and did everything I could to manage my symptoms. The Turkish Hell socks lengthened as the list in my notebook got items crossed off.

Today I am through the flare and I must have at least 20 spoons a day. Maybe even 25. I’m rich!! The spoonie clock is up to 6 hours. That’s pretty darn good.

You know, people are always telling me how great I look.

If only they could see my spoonie clock ticking away.