MacKenzie Speaks: Sipila Progress

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat.
Do you see what I’m sitting on? The Mother of Cats and I have been working on the Sipila sweater.

I’m not going to mince words here… I lost my brother Yellow Boy and I can’t find him anywhere. I can’t believe it! I’ve checked everywhere: the closets, under the bed, all the corners downstairs, and in the garage. The Mother of Cats has been really nice and patient with me, but I don’t understand why she hasn’t brought him home yet. I’ve been so upset about losing him that I can’t even eat cookies anymore!

I can, however, eat the special soft food that he left here. The Mother of Cats is letting me eat a can of food every day. She put out all of my favorite toys and even found me some new ones. She bought new catnip and I have a pile of crunchy papers to play in too! Usually she ignores my needs, but lately she has been fairly attentive. I worry about how things have changed, and I’m sticking to the Mother of Cats like a wet hair ball these days. I’m not going to lose her too!! For the last two weeks we have been hanging out together and knitting away on her new Sipila sweater.

Cat chomping yarn.
Okay, there has been some yarn chomping…
Cat and knitting.
… and extremely attentive feline support. Can you see how neat those stitches are? That’s what superior cat supervision can do for you!
Sweater in progress.
Look at far we have gotten!! 

The Mother of Cats really likes this kind of knitting: two colors at once. I’m a fan too as there is twice as much yarn to chase while she’s working. We are making good progress and should have this sweater done in another week; the Mother of Cats is already talking about winding some yarn for the next sweater. Woohoo! I love yarn winding time.

Sleeping Cat.
But that is tomorrow. Right now I’m just going to grab a nap with the little ball of yarn that the Mother of Cats gave me for my own. She says she will make me a mouse out of it. Huh. If she really loved me she would have knitted it already. Strange priorities, Mother of Cats. Cat needs come first!!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies… err… canned kitty food, now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • I just made it down to the colorwork section of the second sleeve. This sweater is a joy to knit and I am thrilled with the fit. I’m going to have half a skein of the magenta yarn left over so I’m considering ripping out the ribbing of the body and adding a few inches to the body. My project notes are here.
  • The next sweater will be Zweig. What a shock: another Caitlin Hunter sweater. This is definitely the year of the Caitlin Hunter sweater for me.
  • I’m debating the wisdom of getting a kitten for MacKenzie. (He is an Ocicat, and in general they need a lot of stimulation; the vet advised me to get him a kitten or puppy right away.) He is pretty needy, but he is also 15 years old. I’ve decided to give things more time.
  • Cat and author.
    Life has been a little sad the last two weeks,  but good cuddles and the zen of knitting are getting us through it.

    Have a great (knitting) weekend everyone!

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If there are garter snakes in heaven…

Let this be their warning: BobMorgan (AKA Yellow Boy), my sweet boy, constant companion, feline clown, and bug hunter extraordinaire, is on his way to get you!!

Cat
There were few things that Yellow Boy loved more than a good garter snake chase!
Cat Portrait
BobMorgan
12/30/05 – 8/29/18

Safe journey, sweet boy, and may your snake chases and bug hunts be happy and endless.

MacKenzie and I will miss you always.

MacKenzie Speaks: Smokey Sipila Days

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Handsome and unbelievably self-absorbed cat.
The Mother of Cats and I are staying inside because of the smoky air. 

The Mother of Cats has been a little grumpy lately because she is between projects, whatever that means. She has been reading books and just neglecting me something terrible. Yellow Boy has been sick, so he get special food, and do I get any of that? NO!!! She is just cruel to me. Why does she play favorites like this?

Yarn
Oh. Look at this. She made me a yarn bed!

I was so happy when she finally got up and put all of these yarns out for me on the table. I tried to sleep on this cushy new bed, but she kept chasing me off. Why does she act this way? She played with the red yarns and put them into some order of light to dark; the brightest yarn is now labeled #1, and the darkest one is #4. The Mother of Cats is really strange, don’t you think? She should probably chill out and eat more cookies…

Yarn winding cat.
Then I helped her wind all of the yarns into cakes. Why does she do these things? The yarns were perfect the way they were as my bed, but nope! She was compelled to put my yarns onto this contraption that kept hitting my ears. The Mother of Cats can be so thoughtless!

Finally the yarn was all wound and I helped myself to some chomps while she was putting the yarn onto her needles. I really had to assert myself to get the quality attention that I deserve, but she did give me the petting breaks and cookies that I’m entitled to. Because she was acceptably attentive I only chomped a little bit on the yarn and we spent the afternoon knitting on the new sweater.

Cat and knitting.
See what a good helper I am?
Knitting.
By this morning you could start to see the pattern emerging. Good job, Mother of Cats!!

Today the smoke was really thick so we battened down the hatches (the Mother of Cats has been reading all of this books about sailing…) and spent the afternoon knitting away. This evening I wolfed down Yellow Boy’s special food (Hey… she had neglected to give me my cookies! What am I supposed to do?), went upstairs to sleep it off, and the Mother of Cats got a lot more knitting done.

Knitting
Look at how far she’s gotten!! Not bad, but she should have left the yarn in my new bed…

Now I’m up from my nap and the Mother of Cats and I are going to cuddle and read a book. It is good to be a cat. I’m so glad that the Mother of Cats is finally paying enough attention to me.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • Today the smoke was pretty bad in Denver; we have an air quality action alert until tomorrow evening. Good thing I have great knitting projects going.
  • Yellow Boy is losing weight and off his feed; we suspect diabetes. Right now he is on a special formula for diabetic cats, and we’ll see how he does. Sad days.
  • This sweater is Sipila from Caitlin Hunter. My project notes are here.
  • I’m knitting the orchid yarns as a gradient with the brightest skein at the top of the sweater in the colorwork and the darker skeins at the bottom; I numbered the cakes to keep it organized.

FO: Western Sky Socks

Last June I went a little crazy at the Western Sky Knits booth at the Estes Park Wool Market. I made two passes, dropped a lot of cash, and hauled away a big bag of yarn. I love this yarn. I love the colors, the feel, the way I can coordinate it with other things in my stash.  The yarn I scored that day filled the gaps to let me put together several other projects that are now lined up in my queue. Altogether, it was a prime event in the summer knitting season. If you don’t know Western Sky Knits, here is their web site.

Sock yarns.
Along with the several skeins of great yarn were there three sock kits. I totally didn’t need more socks, but how can these be resisted? Just look at them!!
Socks
Here are the finished socks!

Each of the socks is made using the Dave pattern by Rachel Coopey; I played around a little with the pattern for each of them so I wouldn’t get bored. Hey, I like knitting vanilla socks. The simple pattern shows off the yarn, and they are easy to cart around in little project bags and present mindless knitting when stuck in a waiting room somewhere. These three have been the socks of summer, and have carried me through all my medical testing and down time.

Cake Socks
This set was made with a yarn called “Cake.” I added 6 rows of stockinette to the top of the ribbing to get the rolled edge. I love how the colors of the main yarn look like a Monet paining. 🙂 My project notes are here.
Sock
This was the first sock that I knit. I wasn’t sure how much mileage I would get from the contrast skein, so I weighed if before and after knitting the heels. I soon realized that I could do a cuff, toe and heel all with that little skein. Woohoo! Lots of room for creativity! Do you like that color? I have no idea what it is called… such is life when buying at a wool market! My project notes are here.
Socks
This week I finished off the third pair of socks. This pair has an afterthought heel, which I found intriguing, but not as well fitting on my foot as the usual flap and gusset model. So cute… maybe after they are washed they will stay put on my foot better? I think that the problem is my foot, which is short and fat with high arches, and not the design of the sock. That lovely colorway is called “Fairy Dust,” and my project notes are here.

I have to admit, I am mourning the end of the sock kits. I do, however, have lots of other yarn that could become socks, and there are several sock yarns that are tonal: perfect for texture!! I dived into Ravelry and my pattern stash this morning to kit up several more socks projects; I need socks as they are a great break from the big sweater projects. None of these new socks will be vanilla socks, though. It is time for some color play, lace, and cable action. I get all tingly just thinking about it. These socks will be just great!

Today is cool and rainy in the Denver area. I know that the heat machine will fire up again in a few days, but right now I can feel the call of cooler weather and fall. Pumpkin Spice lattes are right around the corner, and the geese will be on the move before I know it.

Fall is coming people! Get your sock needles flashing!

FO: Marettimo Sweater

The last few weeks have been full of air alert days; smoke from the fires in the western states and Canada has given Colorado breathtaking sunsets and trouble for people with lung issues like mine. The cats and I have hunkered down inside and surrendered to good books and great knitting. Okay, that’s me; the cats have settled for demanding salmon and lots of attention. Thankfully there are some naps, too. Seriously, this isn’t really a hardship when you consider how devastating these fires are for the communities and agencies battling them. I hope that things improve soon for all those impacted by the fires, and in the meantime I’m staying busy inside. Just look at the sweater I finished yesterday!!

Marettimo Sweater.
Isn’t this just a perfect sweater for summer? Cute, but fast and easy knitting for warm indoor summer days.

This is Marettimo by Caitlin Hunter. The minute I saw it I knew that I needed to make it! I was just finishing up a Tegna sweater (also by Caitlin Hunter) so I knew I would like the comfy shaping of this sweater too. Bam! Before I had finished the Tegna I was stash diving and hunting for yarn that I could use for a Marettimo.

Yarn for sweater.
Look at what I found! All of these were already in the stash (left to right): Indigo (Chasing Rabbits), Solis (Malabrigo), and Marina (Kim Dyes Yarn). I had to buy one more skein of the Chasing Rabbits yarn, but for the most part this was a stash buster.
Lace detail.
You can see haw all three yarns are used in this lace detail at the bottom of the sweater.

I had just bought a new tablet from Amazon and enrolled in Audible books, so I listened to a couple of books while I stitched away, and in two quick weeks I had finished another couple of Maggie Hope mysteries (by Susan Elia MacNeal) and the sweater. I like Maggie Hope: intrepid British spy and math-loving code breaker in WWII settings; right now she is undercover in Berlin carrying out a dangerous mission… see why I’m knitting at a blistering pace? In case you are wondering, the titles that I’ve been reading are Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, and now I’m sailing through His Majesty’s Hope. I’ve already scored the rest of the books in the series from the library…

Yesterday I finished weaving all of the ends in and popped the sweater on over my clothes. Not a bad fit, considering…

Finished sweater.
It will look so much better when not layered over another shirt. Still, pretty darn nice! My project notes for the sweater are here.

This afternoon smoke is filling the sky again and I have been digging through the stash with the ever helpful MacKenzie. I have more yarn out and have cast on the next sweater, and would you believe that it is ANOTHER Caitlin Hunter design? I can’t wait to show it off!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Evening edit: Look at what I found after watching the evening news which had an article about the air alerts from smoke and ozone. This interactive map from AirNow has lots of info about air quality and how to stay safe.

Fires: Current Conditions

The Scleroderma Chronicles: July Report

If there is one true thing about scleroderma, it is that it never stays the same. I think of it like the weather or road conditions; as soon as you think you’ve figured out what to wear or the best route to drive to work, things change.  If you are dealing with scleroderma in your life, you just learn to roll with the punches. One day you feel fine, and the next one you have brain fog, your knees won’t bend, and gastritis has come to call. One night my hair just started falling out and strands began snowing down onto my shoulders and arms. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry…

Ugh. This is scleroderma. Bad days come and go, plans shift, and life goes on.

FitBit
Look at what I bought!

Here’s the deal: I’m doing much better! I’m having a lot of good days!! After months of struggling my doctors and I realized that I needed to go off some of my meds because I was getting much better! My lung volume has increased, my heart is looking normal, and my blood pressure is down. Bam! Time to start getting some exercise, don’t you think? I bought a Fitbit and slowly began to increase my daily steps until I could do 5,000 steps every day. Then I began to increase my active minutes and now, at the end of July, I am logging 3 days of exercise a week. This is huge, huge, huge!! Yay, Fitbit!!

Banana smoothie
I’m drinking a banana/yoghurt smoothie every day now.

If you slogged through any of my June posts (Science and the Scleroderma Girl) you know that I maintain a log of my symptoms, diet, and other data that occurs to me. (Yep. Weather fronts do make it harder for me to breathe. Who would have suspected that! Thank you log book!) This month I added bananas to my diet to see if they would help reduce muscle pain. I think they’re helping, and getting exercise probably helps too. Yay, bananas!

Castor oil.
I bought this to use in my eyes after my ophthalmologist suggested that I try it to help with my Sjogren’s symptoms. Kind of freaked me out as I was taught as a child that caster beans were poisonous…

When I bought this oil on Amazon I noticed in the comments by other customers that they used it on their scalps to help hair grow. Who knew? Maybe that is a thing, I thought. I checked in the scleroderma online forums and decided to oil my scalp once a week. Now, at the end of July, I am happy to report that my hair seems to be growing back. Yay, castor oil!!

Today was the last day of July. It was a pretty good month for me and my scleroderma. There were some definite bumps during the month, but over all the patient scientist approach to managing my trio of autoimmune diseases is paying off for me. Exercise, bananas, and castor oil were big positives for the month. The negatives were discovering that I can’t have any sunshine on my skin, and I absolutely can’t cut down on the stomach acid reducer med. Oh, well, even negative results are good to know.

Wild bunny.
This bunny has taken to sleeping in my front flower bed, but isn’t eating any of my flowers. How positive can you get?

Yesterday I bought a new data notebook. I have some ideas about some new stuff to experiment with…

Science and the Scleroderma Girl rides again.

Bring it on, August!

Yellow Boy Speaks: Look at this Tegna!

Hi. I’m Yellow Boy.

Cat face.
The Mother of Cats has been knitting like crazy on her new Tegna sweater.

I’ve been really helping the Mother of Cats out with her knitting. It’s a lot of work, but someone (ahem… me!) needs to keep their eye on things while she’s working. MacKenzie told me to chomp her yarn to keep her on her toes, but I’m a good boy. I like to be right in the action without actually sitting on the yarn.

Knitting and cat eye.
See what I mean? 

It’s important that I take a good look at her work from time to time to make sure she’s staying on task. I figure that if I check things over every half hour that’s good enough.

Sleeping cat.
The rest of the time I nap!

The Mother of Cats made really good progress on the sweater and got it finished this morning. It is so cute! She took it right outside and grabbed some pictures of it before the afternoon thunderstorms started.

Finished Tegna sweater.
It looks pretty darn good, doesn’t it? This is what you get when you have quality cat support for your work.
Lace detail of the sweater.
The lace detail is my favorite!

Before the Mother of Cats had finished this sweater she had already started fussing over the yarn for the next one. “So many sweaters, so many choices”, she keeps mumbling as she digs around in the yarns. I think that she has finally made up her mind and has settled on some blue yarn for the next sweater. But first, she is going to make some socks this weekend. Oh. Socks. I don’t do socks. MacKenzie kind of specializes in socks. I like the sweaters. And bugs. I’m a pretty big fan of chasing garter snakes, too. Why can’t the Mother of Cats let me chase garter snakes in the house?

Toy ice by the cat food.
Sigh. Guess I’ll have to make due with my toy mice. 

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

The sweater is Tegna by Caitlin Hunter.  This is my second Tegna sweater, this time in cotton/linen blend yarn. Here are the project notes for this one. I was so proud of my work that wore it this afternoon to go grocery shopping; there was a horrible accident at the check out lane that involved a dropped bottle of soy sauce and a carton of fresh strawberries: my beautiful Tegna is now soaking in the sink… Such is life.

Cat chasing a moth.
Chasing a moth while I was reading in bed. This was truly a duck and cover moment for me…

Yellow Boy is the indoor bug hunter extraordinaire… anything that moves in the house gets caught and eaten. When he is short of entertaining wildlife he pulls out his toys which usually get abandoned at his food bowl. On the morning of the picture he had pulled out all three of his toy mice.