Happy Thanksgiving: Arm Warmer Mitts Pattern

All week I’ve been getting ready for the holiday tomorrow. The turkey is in the fridge (and at exactly 2pm tomorrow afternoon he will slide into the oven!), the pies are on the counter, and the rest of the fixings are patiently resting in the fridge. All the cleaning is done except for the last minute vacuuming (hello… cats!), and even the stash has become organized. Through all of this I have also been churning out long mitts that are also arm warmers. It’s cold now. I need arm warmers!!

Hand in MItt.
Look at how cute these are! This yarn, Western Sky Knits Magnolia Sock, is 10% cashmere. Yum!!

I have Raynaud’s syndrome; when I get cold I lose circulation to my hands, feet and even my face. It can happen really quickly, too. Look at what happened to me while shopping in the produce section of the grocery store last night!

Raynauds
I was picking out fruit and salad from the refrigerated cases when I realized I was cold and my hands were numb. Yep. Raynaud’s attack. I finished my shopping with the sleeves from my hoodie pulled down over my hands.

During the winter I cope by wearing lots of simple layers that can be easily adjusted to adapt to changing conditions. Since I’m a knitter I have lots of socks, hand warmers, and shawls that I can layer on with reckless abandon. Seriously, I’m a walking knitwear advertisement in cold weather. I’m thinking about leg warmers for under my jeans and for my arms… arm warmers!!

The perfect product would be simple arm warmers that could be pulled down over my hands and fingers if I need it (so I put in a slit for my thumb), but could also be worn pulled up my arms to keep my hands free for household tasks like when I’m working with water or cooking (with cold things from the fridge). The warmers also needed to be long enough to pull up my arm, but should also be able to just bunch around my wrist. Snug enough to slide under sweaters, but loose enough to slip over gloves. Multi-purpose warmness. Take that, winter!

So here there are. I’ve made three pairs so far and I have another pair on the needles. I am just rocking these guys.

Arm Warmer Mitts
The yarn with color stripes is Chasing Rabbits Fern yarn. The fern is a little thinner than the Magnolia sock, so those warmers hug my arms better. The cashmere ones are just wonderful to wear while reading (and knitting) in bed. I love these mitts!! My Ravelry project notes are here.

As you can see, I have many things to be thankful for. My hands aren’t great (thanks, scleroderma), but they work for knitting, and because I knit I’m in better shape than most other patients with my condition. I have Raynaud’s, but because I knit I am able to create product that help me beat it into submission. I am knitting in a time of absolutely fabulous Indy dyed yarns that make me happy with every single stitch. The fabulous colors in the yarn mean that even a simple stockinette item looks great. I am thankful. Very, very thankful.

Hey, maybe you would like some mitts too! Here’s the pattern.

Arm Warmer Mitts

Needles: size 1 (2.25 mm) double point or cable needles. I used 2 16″ cable needles and split the stitches between them. Adjust my directions to fit your needle choice.

Yarn: Fingering or sock yarn. These mitts each took about 250 yards.

Right Hand:
1. CO 72 stitches using Old Norwegian CO or any other CO that you are fond of. It needs to be a little stretchy. Join in the round with 36 stitches on each of 2 16″ circular needles. Mark the start of the round.
2. Complete K1P1 ribbing for 12 rounds.
3. Knit rounds in stockinette until mitt length is 4.5 inches from the CO.
4. Decrease: K5, K2tog, PM, K1, SSK, K rest of the round. (70 stitches)
5. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
6. Decrease: Knit until 2 stitches before mark, K2tog, SM, K1, SSK, K rest of the round. (68 stitches)
7. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 once, and then step 6 once more. (64 stitches)
9. Thumb opening: turn the work at the end of the round and purl back on the WS to the start of the round. (remove the mark when you come to it). Turn the work again and knit the RS to the start of the round. Continue turning the work and working rows in stockinette (purl on the WS, knit on the RS) until the thumb gap is 2.0 – 2.5 inches long; check fit on your hand and knit until you like the size of the gap. End with a RS row.
10. Return to knitting rounds. Knit one round, closing the gap for the thumb.
11. Complete K1P1 ribbing for 11 rounds.
12. CO in K1P1 pattern making sure it won’t be too tight around your fingers when worn.

Left Hand:
Complete steps 1-3 as for right hand.
4. Decrease: K 62 stitches (10 stitches left in the round) K2tog, PM, K1, SSK, K to end. (70 inches)
5. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
6. Decrease: K until 2 stitches before the mark, K2tog, SM, K1, SSK, K to end of round.
7. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 once, and then step 6 once more. (64 stitches)
9-12. Same as for the right hand.

Weave in the ends. Add buttons or other embellishments to mark the tops of the mitts if you wish.

Mitts
The finished mitts are 12 inches long, 4.5 inches wide at the top and 3.75 inches wide at the lower (hand) edge.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  May your day be a good one, and stay warm!

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The Colors of Fall

I bet that you were expecting pictures of the fall foliage and some frost on my pumpkins, weren’t you. Nope. All of those things have been happening (but I most admit, most of the great leafy color has fallen to ground at this point), but what I’m talking about is the fabulous knitting colors that appear like magic at this time of year. I love fall knitting (especially since it is powered by pumpkin spice lattes in my case!) and have been bit by excitement as I pile more yarn into my stash, more patterns into my Ravelry shopping cart (I have 169 patterns in there at the moment…) and power up the needles with cool weather knitting.

Snow on leaves.
Darn. I felt compelled to put in a picture of fall foliage anyways. See what I’m talking about? Look at those colors.!! I must have them in my yarn! 

Last week I finished some cute socks in fall colors during some cold weather with snow outside. I kept pulling them up on my arms to admire the colors and to check on the lace cuff, and I couldn’t help thinking that they would make some cute arm warmers. Hmmm…

Well they almost became arm warmers, but at the end of the day they did manage to become socks. I was, however, completely entranced with the idea of arm warmers that were also mitts with no thumbs. I wanted to be able to pull these things up onto my arms while working in the kitchen, but also able to have over my hands while knitting. Not too tight so I could wear them over long sleeved shirts or gloves. Not too bulky so that I would be able to wear the arm warmers/mitts under sweaters. I wanted warm!! My poor Raynaud’s inflicted hands demanded them.

Ta-daa!! Check these out!

Fingerless Mitts
Look at that.. there’s a pumpkin after all. These are the finished mitts that exactly meet my cold weather needs. Do you like my fall colored table runner? I’ve put out all the Thanksgiving decorations . Did I mention that I love this time of year?

Aren’t those colors great? This is the purple yarn that I showed off in an earlier post. I still have some bright, happy gold colored yarn to use as a contrast; I’m torn whether to use the yarns for a pair of Jelly Roll socks or perhaps brioche stitch cuffs with both colors. Brioche could be fun…

Finished MItt
Are these cute or what? Perfect for my needs. They allow me to use my hands easily while staying warm, but are easy to push up onto my arms while cooking or doing something that involves water (like bathing a certain yellow cat).

Did you glimpse the rosy rust colored knitting below the mitt? That is the sweater that I am working and working on. I just love the feel of the fabric and the pattern is one that I’ve done before so I know that I will love the finished product, but the simple, one-color stockinette demands that I take some breaks into some pattern or color excitement. I keep getting pulled into some socks and mitts, but each shot of cold weather finds me working like a fiend on the sweater again. I hope to have it done by Thanksgiving.

Sweater in progress.
Doesn’t this look nice? This is the Drijfhout sweater by Isabell Kraemer. As you can see, it is knit from the top down and will have a henley type button placket in the front. I plan to use little wooden buttons when I finish it.

Thursday I knitted faithfully on the sweater and got another couple of inches on to the body, but this morning I went hunting for another cute yarn for mitts. Why, look at this! I have some grey yarn with a rainbow strip from Chasing Rabbits that just totally wants to be mitts. It is nagging me somewhat desperately. What is a kindhearted, cold-armed knitted to do?

I cast on, of course!!

Knitting
This is another Chasing Rabbits yarn in the colorway “Colorful Yarns”, which was created for the LYS where I hang out and knit with my peeps. Pretty cool, huh.

I wrote up the pattern (such as it is…) and placed it in the notes of the Ravelry project page for the arm warmers/mitts. With this second pair I hope to clean up the opening for the thumbhole. Maybe there will be some ribbing around it? Hmmm…

Anyway, if you would like your own pair feel free to check out what I did. Add/subtract stitches to fit your own arm or needs.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

MacKenzie Speaks: Paper Roses Socks are Done!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat and socks.
We’ve been knitting in bed…

I’ve been helping the Mother of Cats for the entire week getting these socks done. It is a lot of hard work; the kinky yarn from the sock blanks is really hard to get a good chomp on! I’m sure she doesn’t appreciate all that I do. In this shot I was warming up her needles and the sock blank by napping on top of it. Isn’t that nice of me?! Why does she get so snippy with me?

These are the socks that she ripped out a few weeks ago and restarted using fluffy white yarn with rabbit fur in it. Wow. This stuff is really yummy! For some reason she is keeping it closed up in a plastic bag so I can’t play with it after I dragged it upstairs to play “roll the ball” under the dining table. Whatever. She is just horrible about sharing her toys!

Finished Socks
Here are the finished socks!! Aren’t they totally cool? Much nicer looking than the other attempt with the ugly brown lace yarn. I think that the sparkles are especially catchy.

I really like these socks, and they are just perfect for napping on whenever she leaves they out. So nice and toasty to sleep on. Just the right size to kick and bite when I’m feeling a little frisky. I think that she should keep the in the kitty toy box with my catnip-stuffed squirrel.

I’m such a good boy. She really should give me these socks.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

These socks are make with handpainted sock blanks by Greenwood Fiberworks. The minute I saw the blanks at a trunk show this fall I knew they had to be these socks. Even the name of the colorway was cool: Paper Roses. The sock pattern is Dave by Rachel Coopey, which is basically a nice vanilla sock. I made the version with afterthought heels to maintain the color sequence down the sock. The fluffy white yarn for the lace cuff is Knit Picks Bare Hare.

Heel on sock
Check out this heel! This is really nice fitting on my foot and feels great. I’d never done a heel like this, but I’m glad that I tried it.

I’m really happy with the cuff at the top. I made good notes of what I did and recorded them into the Ravelry project page, but I also got some nice pictures and am thinking of blogging the pattern later in the week.

Happy Halloween everyone!!

Yellow Boy Speaks: Happy Halloween!

Hi. I’m Yellow Boy.

Cat
Don’t you think I’m a handsome boy?

That’s right. I’m exceedingly handsome. Not very brave, but handsome.

Vampire Kitty
Except on Halloween. Then I am VAMPIRE KITTY!!!

I should be getting lots and lots of Halloween cookies tonight. I just love this time of year.

Bwahaha!!!

Happy Halloween everyone!!

Bunny Love

Have you ever found some yarn that is so alluring, happy and compelling that you find yourself spending way too much time mulling over what to make of it? Searching through the stash to find some yarn that would like to play nice with it? Parking it in the bedroom so you can glance at it from time to time while reading late at night as you consider options in the back of your mind?

Yarn
Here it is., happiness in a tightly wound package. The yarn is actually brighter and more cheerful in life than in this picture because today is a dark and gloomy day.  And cold. Knitting weather!!

The purple yarn was the original purchase a week ago. It’s call “Colorful October” and has a happy orange section bracketed by black and dark brown swimming in the fabulous purple. Since it was a monthly edition of the yarn, I felt like I had to snatch it up right away before it sold out. I mean, look at that purple!!!

Well, I would like socks or maybe arm warmers made out of this yarn. I’m worried about pooling, so I wanted something really peppy to go with it that I could use to break up the color a little for some snappy helix knitting or maybe simple colorwork like the highlights of Jelly Rolls. When I went to my LYS yesterday that skein on the left came home with me. The colorway is “Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast”. How can I walk away from a yarn with a name like that?

I’m just trying to explain why this yarn is sleeping right beside me on my bedside table. I’m pretty sure it will eventually become arm warmers, socks, and maybe even some cat toys. Arm warmers. Maybe with corrugated ribbing and some helix knitting. This is going to be fun!

The other bunny that I’m thinking about is this extremely cute bunny designed by my BKB (Best Knitting Buddy) Deb. Isn’t this the cutest thing?

Bunny
Photo credit: Deb Baker

This bunny was made with Deb’s daughter Erin in mind. Erin is autistic and loves to shake floppy toys (or her shirt sleeve) for hours; this bunny totally meets that need. I have the cat version of the pattern, and every time I see it perched on my bookshelf it makes me happy; these little guys are designed to sit up perfectly and are really stable. Deb just wrote this pattern up and it is now available for download on Ravelry for FREE while she works with test knitters to work out all the kinks in the pattern. The pattern is called ERIN’s BUNNY; I know that Deb would love to have you test knit or just give her feedback.

Hey, I could make a bunny out of the leftover Chasing Rabbits yarn! After the socks and arm warmers, I mean.

Goodnight everyone.

I’m off to sleep sweet dreams in the bright colors of my new yarn.

The Scleroderma Chronicles: Year 3.0

My, how the time flies. Not that I’m having a good time here, but it is hard to believe that it has already been three years since my diagnosis of limited systemic sclerosis (AKA scleroderma). I’ve been reflecting on the last year while planning this post, and decided that I should start out with a little info about my disease, share the highlights of my three years, and then give unpack this year a little.

Butterfly
But first, a butterfly picture! Butterflies have hard skin, and they are doing OK. Be like a butterfly, I tell myself. This little lady was part of a massive migration of butterflies that came through our state in the fall. Seriously, there were so many of them that they showed up on the weather radar and the NWS put out a bulletin asking the public to identify the bird species: not birds, but butterflies.

Scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that is chronic (no cure), progressive, disabling and possibly fatal. It is rare, which is why you probably never heard of it. The name itself means “hard skin”, and that is one of the most distinctive features of the condition. The widespread scarring and buildup of collagen protein that causes the hardening of skin also occurs in internal organs in patients with the “systemic” form of the disease like me. Most of the damage is hitting my intestinal tract, but my lungs, kidneys and heart are also sustaining damage. In the background, hard to see, but never to be ignored, is damage occurring in blood vessels that can cause blood pressure to soar and places me at risk for blood clots.

I have collected several doctors over the last three years as damage continues to slowly accrue in my lungs, kidneys and intestinal tract.

Here are the highlights of my first three years:

  1. My first year was one of shock and horror. I was so worried about tightening skin and the use of my hands that I didn’t ever think about the bigger picture. I was started on drugs, stabilized, and felt much better by the end of the year.
  2. The bottom fell out my second year. I was using my hands okay, but I developed breathing problems, had to be placed on oxygen, and my heart started to misbehave. Adjustments were made to my medications to compensate for my lowering lung volume and to slow the rate of lung damage. At the lowest point I was sent to palliative care and told to make final decisions.
  3. This year, the third, has been one of highs and lows. The new medications kicked in, I came off oxygen and my chest pain stopped. I was discharged from palliative care. I developed gastroparesis and had to move to a very stomach-friendly diet. I stabilized and sailed through the first rounds of appointments in the spring only to develop kidney problems in the summer along with higher pressure in the artery that goes from my heart to my lungs. This blood pressure, which is called pulmonary arterial hypertension, is extremely damaging to the heart and will need to be addressed if it gets any higher. Fabulous. Another doctor.

My summer this year was really hard. I got very dizzy, developed joint pain and sore muscles, and eventually got so brain fogged that I was afraid to drive. My knees were swollen and developed sharp, shooting pains; I will need to buy a new car if this keeps up as I can’t manage the clutch much longer. I struggled on the stairs and my face turned blue on a regular basis. My neighbors stepped in and took over the yard work for me, and my knitting buddies began to drive me to all fiber related adventures as I wasn’t sure I should be trusted on the road. See, highs and lows. My illness is kicking my butt, and the people around me are stepping in to make sure I’m OK.

Early this month I met with my new internist to see if there wasn’t something that I could take to beat some of these symptoms back. OK, I’m going to be honest here. I cried. We agreed that I would start the tart cherry extract again, but at a much lower dose than I took previously in the spring. (Tart cherry has anti-inflammatory properties and is easier on my stomach than NSAIDs. Unfortunately, my kidneys were damaged the first time I tried to take it.) I’m going to have my kidney function checked every month, but I’m already so much better (brain fog, goodbye!) that I’m really hoping that I can tolerate it OK. In the meantime I’m getting lots of chores done in this golden period while I feel so much better. I’ve moved furniture, completed some projects, and have driven to many, many stores that were ignored last summer.

Wizard Hat
And I made a crocheted had for my niece to wear this Halloween. Really, I’ve been a bundle of energy the last couple of weeks.

So, this is the end of the third year. I feel pretty good, I’m getting things done and making plans, and I am making hay while the (tart cherry) sun shines. Next week I get my blood drawn for the kidney function test and after that I see the rheumatologist.

I’ve been thinking about butterflies again. The day after I took that picture of the butterfly it snowed. A lot.  It took a couple of days for it to melt as the temperatures climbed back up into the 60’s and 70’s. I wondered if the butterflies would make it. As I walked out of the office building after seeing my internist (and still recovering from my crying fit in her office…) I found butterflies swarming around one of the shrubs by the parking lot.

Those butterflies. You can kick them, but they come back. Be like a butterfly, I tell myself.

And the fourth year begins.

Houston, the Magic has landed!

I know, I know. You have been wondering whatever happened to me. I have been knitting and knitting on the Marled Magic Sweater (by Stephen West), and it just seemed that it would be boring to put up even more pictures of my cat MacKenzie sleeping on ANOTHER chunk of knitted fabric (even if it was mohair fabulousness…).

Cat with knitting.
But this cat isn’t MacKenzie, and besides, he is awake.  This is my extremely elusive cat BobMorgan, who I call Yellow Boy in MacKenzie’s posts because, well, he is somewhat lacking in courage. My DIL only knows what he looks like because I sent her a picture. He wails if anything strange (like my sister and I replacing a window screen) happens. He is afraid of the camera, so a shot like this is rare.  He is also the source of most of the cat hair in the pictures that I take.

I eventually stopped posting to the blog and just kept on knitting. And knitting. Then I finished the knitting and I was so exhausted by the whole experience that I didn’t get the ends woven in for another week.

I-cord bind off.
I think what did me in was the i-cord bind off, which seemed to go on forever. It did make a really nice finished edge, however, so it was worth the time.

Thursday I took the sweater back out and finished it. It is done. It is beautiful. It is very, very warm. Did I mention that the temperature is in the 80’s outside?  I sadly packed the Magic away to wait for colder days and some snow.

Don’t you want to see it?

Blocking the sweater.
Blocking was an issue. I didn’t want to stretch the sweater, which would make it longer, so I finally just laid it out on a towel, misted it with a spray bottle, and patted it into shape.
Finished Marled Magic.
Here it is! This sweater is lofty because of all the mohair I used, and is the perfect sweater to wrap up in for cold weather knitting and outings. Oh, did you notice the loose ends? They are all woven in and behaving themselves now.
Side view.
Check out the brioche on the arm (wine colored) the other stitches in this masterpiece were seed stitch, garter, and a simple lace.
Back
The black and grey panels in the back happened to be the yarns with cashmere in them too. Oh, my goodness. Wearing this baby feels wonderful!

Not the best pictures, but pretty good for selfies, don’t you think?

I used so many yarns to make this I finally just listed them the best I could in the notes part of my Ravelry entry. If you are interested, here is the link to my project page.

I just checked the weather report… it is going to snow next Thursday! I know what I’ll be wearing while I’m knitting that day!

Have a good weekend everyone.