WIPs this Week: Marled Magic Sweater and More Jelly Rolls

I really dug in and worked on my Marled Magic sweater this week. So many colors. So many combinations. So much fun. Seriously, this is addictive knitting at its best with a big side of stash busting. I blogged about this project earlier and showed off all of the yarn I had collected to use in the sweater. I am now well into the second section of the sweater and I am feeling the magic for sure. This sweater is going to be great this winter and I am having a great time dreaming/knitting it.

Sweater in Progress.
The gray colored section at top is the first one in the sweater. I am now about half way done with the pink section in the lower part of the picture.

The sweater is knitted with one strand of fingering yarn held together with one strand of mohair. As the two are knitted together they create the marled look of the fabric.

Closeup of Knitting.
In the first section I used a single gray mohair from the stash with different fingerings that were mostly gray with pink and purple highlights.
Knitting Closeup.
In this second section I am using yarn that has more color in it and I am knitting it with pink, purple , and gray mohair. I am changing both yarn types as I knit to switch up the marl effect.
Yarn
Here are the yarns that I’m using in this second section. 

I’m have over a dozen different yarns in this section, and I have to lug around the box of yarns while I’m knitting. So… I admit it. I lost control. I cast on a small project that is easy to carry around to work on while away from home.

Sock
More Jelly Rolls socks!

I couldn’t help it. These yarns are in the bins that I’m using on the big sweater project, and as I dug through yarns to put together the combos for the second sweater section I noticed that speckled yarn. It was near the solid blue yarn, but there were those black specks in the speckled yarn too…  I started to dream about how they would look as a sock combination. Cute, right? Here are my project notes with the yarns that I used for these Jelly Rolls. There are some other sock combinations calling to me already that I’m trying to ignore while I keep working on the sweater.

It’s just crazy to think that I would have only one project going at a time.

If I cast on ANOTHER sock I may need to go buy some more needles.

Oh, little things like that have never stopped me before! 🙂

Have a good (knitting) weekend, everyone.

MacKenzie Speaks: The No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Cat Day

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Angry cat
I am so upset and angry. How could all of this happen to ME!? I’m a good boy!

I have never been so disrespected before. My day has been simply outrageous. Awful. Horrible. Beyond belief. The Mother of Cats needs to take action!

Cat
This is Cosmos. He lives next door. Doesn’t he look sweet? NOT!!

Cosmos is the cat next door. He sneaks over to MY yard and TAUNTS ME through the back garden window. Yellow Boy uses some simply shocking language while Cosmos is at the window, but I prefer to be direct. I will eat you, Cosmos! I will stick my claws into your tail so hard you will wish it could fall off…

I mean, if you are a cat with superior intellect, why not show off with some creative threats?

So, when Cosmos appeared on MY back fence this week I jumped right up there to give him a piece of my mind. The Mother of Cats trained me years ago to not jump the fence, but this was an extreme emergency. Cosmos ran like the wind to get away from me and I chased him right down the fence and out of my yard.

Like seriously, I was on the fence of the next yard over. I’d never been this far out of the yard because the Mother of Cats never lets me go anywhere interesting. Well, what should a curious cat do? I jumped down.

Back of yard.
I ended up on this patch of wet dirt behind a storage shed…
Dog.
…and who knew that there was a dog on a leash in this yard? Yikes! I was trapped.

I couldn’t jump the fence to go home, and I couldn’t get past the dog to leave the yard. Cosmos headed into his house for a nap and I was stuck hanging out behind the storage shed for OVER AN HOUR waiting for the Mother of Cats to notice that I needed help. How could she neglect my needs this way?

Finally the Mother of Cats arrived. The dog was put away, and she GRABBED me by the scruff of the neck, put me onto the fence, and then WHACKED me to force me to jump back into my yard. OK, I may have been snarling just a little bit while she was doing this. I was upset!!

Cat accident on bed.
I was so upset this happened once I got back indoors…
Sad cat.
…and then she wouldn’t let me go out for most of the afternoon. She told me that I was in the DOG HOUSE which I think was particularly mean spirited of her.
Equipment in street.
When she finally let me out late in the afternoon this was parked in the street behind the house. NO!!! How many upsetting things can happen in one day?
Equipment
These scary men were putting the cable under the sidewalk behind the house. Yellow Boy was so scared he wouldn’t even come out of the garage.  How could this be happening? Why am I having such a horrible day? 

The Mother of Cats tells me that I can only go out into the yard in the mornings from now on because she needs to be there with me. What? Doesn’t she think I can take care of myself? What disrespect! I can’t believe that she is acting this way. I’m not sure that she really loves me any more.

But she always gives me cookies when we come in from outside.

And the best places to sleep ARE in the house.

Cosmos hasn’t come back all week, so maybe I don’t need to be out there after all. Besides, there are thunderstorms every afternoon with rain, thunder and hail. Thunder is scary!

Sleeping cat.
Maybe the Mother of Cats loves me after all.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats: The city where I live (Aurora, Colorado) has a leash law for cats; they are not allowed to run free. When I first rescued MacKenzie I installed a cat containment system from Invisible Fence and trained MacKenzie to not jump out of the back yard. He learned very quickly and hasn’t jumped for years. He has been known to jump the fence during a cat fight, but once that is over his training kicks in and he won’t jump to came back home, and is afraid of the fence when I try to put him back over it. He loves being outdoors, so from now on I’ll stay with him to supervise whenever he is outside.

Yellow Boy has never jumped the fence, and I didn’t have to train him. He is a cat with limited courage…

It has rained here for days, and the dog next door is a clever boy; he hangs out on the trampoline to stay dry. I’m waiting for him to learn tricks.

Snapshots from the Garden

The monsoon arrived right on schedule a couple of weeks ago here in Colorado. The days are now cooler, we get rainy days every week, and almost every afternoon there are thunderstorms. Some of the storms have really been memorable: serious rain, with thunder and hail. The cats have been staying inside, and the closet is getting quite a workout as they shelter in place waiting for the thunderstorms to pass.

Cat in the Closet
Is it over yet?

Yet, every thunderstorm has its silver lining. After struggling through the heat of July, the yard has burst back into bloom, and with the flowers and water I’m seeing more wildlife. Flocks of birds congregate in the back, and squirrels have been chasing each other across the roof, through the trees, and along the fence, and insects are everywhere. This morning was warm and sunny, so the cats and I returned to the yard. Here are some of the highlights.

Butterfly
The butterfly bush is now covered with blooms, and the butterflies have arrived. I think that this is a Painted Lady
Yarrow
The yarrow that I planted early this summer is now putting out new blooms.

Squirrel

Squash
My acorn squash survived the hail storms okay, but the plant lost most of its leaves. I’m hoping that the squash will make it to maturity.
Cat drinking from water
The outdoor water dish for the cats was full of fresh water. Yellow Boy moved right in.

I spent the morning drinking my latte, pulling weeds, and tending to plants that were damaged in the storms. By noon the clouds were piling up again over the mountains so the cats and I packed up and went back into the house. As I write this post the thunder is sounding, the rain is on the way, and MacKenzie is back in the closet.

Knitting time!

 

 

Embracing the Sock Blank: Part 2

It all started when I saw these sock blanks near the front door of Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins in Boulder, Colorado. So cute! Such happy colors! I had to have them.

Sock Blanks
See what I mean? Who can resist colors like these?

These are single-strand sock blanks dyed by The Hummingbird Moon, and I blogged about learning how to handle the blank to create TAAT socks that matched here. I learned a lot, loved the final socks, and had a enough yarn left over to make a pair of fingerless mitts.

Or… I could use that leftover yarn with the second sock blank to make a pair of Jelly Rolls socks. Oh. My feet totally need Jelly Rolls! They were practically chanting, Jelly Rolls! Jelly Rolls! Jelly Rolls!

Winding a sock blank.
I wound the second blank into a ball…
Sock being knitted.
…cast on, and started knitting. I’m using the left over yarn for the contrast color, and the second blank for the main color.
Socks
Here are the finished socks!
Finished Socks.
Because of the double rolls at the top of the sock they stay put on my feet just the way I want them to. 

I am so happy with these socks I’m fighting off an urge to cast on many, many more of them from the huge stockpile of leftovers from past-knit socks. The weather is cooler this week, there are birds flocking in the back yard, and my feet want socks. I can feel the pull of the fingering from the craft room even as I type this, but I am resisting the call.

I’m going back to knitting the Marled Magic sweater. It will be amazing! Stay tuned for further developments. 🙂

Finger Protectors.
The larger needles for the sweater are rubbing against some calcium deposits on a couple of my finger joints (thanks, scleroderma…), so I made some finger protectors using a pattern  that I found on Ravelry. These babies work great. Marled Magic, I am coming for you!

Have a good week everyone!

The Scleroderma Chronicles: Days of Wonder

The last time I chatted about my systemic sclerosis status I had just seen my doctors and I was doing great. I had sustained very little additional damage to my lungs and heart, I was taking a new supplement (tart cherry) that was an anti-inflammatory that my doctors thought I could tolerate, and I just flat out felt great. I could walk without pain, I had energy and I woke up most mornings feeling *normal* which was pretty darn amazing.

At the end of June I headed off to the clinic for my usual blood tests, joked with the man who draws my blood every 60 days, and bought myself a Starbucks on the way home to celebrate another successful outing. Two days later I was wondering why my blood results hadn’t been posted to the online portal. I was outside drinking my morning latte with the cats and the roses when the call came; my liver results were fine, but my kidney function had dropped dramatically. Oops. No more tart cherry for me!

Maine Coon cat with a bob tail.
Yellow Boy hanging out with my squash plants. Amazingly, he did not run away when the call came.

That’s when the days of wonder began. Wonder as in: “I wonder what will happen next?”, “I wonder what this is?”, “I wonder if I should call this into the doctor?” , and “Good grief, what now? I wonder when this will end?”

As soon as I went off of the tart cherry extract icky symptoms came back with a vengeance along with some new ones. It’s like they all made new friends while they were gone and couldn’t wait to show them off. Here’s what has been happening over the three weeks.

  • I woke up one morning with pitting edema in my arms and face. I looked like a chipmunk. I also had shooting nerve pain in one side of my face. Fabulous.
  • Two days later the edema was gone, but my knees hurt so bad they woke me up at 4am, and that was it for the night. Ugh! They also had swollen lumps on them!! In desperation I smeared medical marijuana cream (from a neighbor – this is Colorado and we have this stuff!) on them to see if that would help. The pain shut off within moments! I need to get me some of this stuff!!
  • The next day I slept through the night, but when I woke up in the morning the skin across my knees was so tight that I couldn’t bend them until I warmed things up with a heating pad. They itched and were warm to the touch. Maybe marijuana cream isn’t such a good idea after all. I’m losing patience, I tell the cats, who have piled onto my legs too since there is a heating pad in use… When will these cats learn how to make a morning latte?
  • Shooting pains start in my lower abdomen the day after my knees stop hurting. Diverticulitis, says the internet. Seriously! I wonder if I should call this in? I wonder if I should see that gastroenterologist after all…

Over the next several days I experienced scary low blood pressure episodes, chest pain, fevers, itching, more joint pain, and to top things off I started losing my balance and falling over without warning a few days ago.

Days of wonder, indeed. Nothing lasts; it appears that I’m on a roller-coaster of symptoms that will provide my summer thrills and scares until the ride ends (hopefully soon!). My repeat blood work showed that my kidney function had improved, and my rheumatologist isn’t saying scary things to me any more. My blood pressure is again stable, the chest pain and edema are gone, my balance is restored, and the pain in my face has vanished.

Cinco de Mayo rose.
This is one of the roses in my garden. It is called “Cinco de Mayo“, and I planted it in memory of my mother, who loved roses, who died on May 5th many years ago, and who remains the benchmark for all time for patience, grace and courage in the face of adversity.  Of course this rose has been blooming beautifully during these days of wonder.

This could be a really bad time, but I’ve discovered that it is best to just go with the flow and to focus on the ridiculous side of all of this; lumps on my knees, my chipmunk face, and falling over without warning. Really, don’t you just want to bust out laughing at the thought of all that? Thank heavens I didn’t develop a rash! It is also important to notice all the wonder around me. The beauty of my garden and the flowers, the days in bed reading new books, great dinners produced in the crock pot, the antics of the cats, and the joy of putting together a new knitting project. Wonder is endless, easy to find, and costs nothing. Okay, let’s be honest. Binge watching shows on Netflix helps too.

Today I feel a little dizzy, but much better. Hopefully I’m coming to the end of the tart cherry withdrawal. That’s right. Best to stay positive and cheerful.

I wonder what will happen tomorrow?

Ready for the Magic!

I really don’t like to do this, but the first step in recovery is to admit that you have a problem. That assumes, of course, that you are interested in actually recovering from your addiction…

Yarn
I keep buying these gray-toned yarns with flecks of pink and purple in them… I think that I have actually bought five different 2-skein sets of this type of yarn with the idea of making another “Waiting for Rain” shawl.  Maybe, I told myself, it can become ANOTHER Find Your Fade. I’m in my 60’s now, and my hair is starting to go gray…  I’m wearing more black and this yarn will go with my entire wardrobe. Do I need any more excuses? No, not really. This yarn had me at “hello!”

Nope. Not recovering today. There is no problem here. I love yarn, I love to knit, it makes me happy, and there are few things that make you decide to do what makes you feel happy like getting diagnosed with a possibly-fatal autoimmune condition. Oh. For one thing, you notice that the condition of life itself is eventually fatal… whatever have I been waiting for?  Buy yarn. Time to knit!

Still there is the issue of what to do with all of this awesome yarn?

34742949562_b375dd92e1_n

This is the Marled Magic Sweater by Stephen West (photo credit: westknits). Hey, wouldn’t this be the perfect solution to consume that yarn and make something that will carry me through the cold of winter wrapped in absolute cushy yumminess?  Yes, yes it will!! I downloaded the pattern that week and read the directions. Oops. This is going to be challenging and it is going to take a lot of yarn. Stephen suggests that you stock up/locate about 1500 grams of the stuff to make your yarn palette. Good think I have a stash that reflects my true yarn-addiction status.

Pile of yarN.
I pulled out every yarn that I thought I could use and piled it all in a couple of large bins. After that I sorted the yarn into color grouping and sadly make some cuts. Then I made some more cuts. This is what I was left with…
Lace weight yarns.
The marl in the fabric is created by knitting with two strands of yarn held together. I pulled out lace weight yarns in the colorways that I was looking for. This is mostly mohair, silk, and alpaca yarn. I have a lot of the steel gray mohair at the lower right hand corner, and will use the other colors to spice things up.
Yarn collage.
Then I pulled out these fingering weight yarns to accent the gray mix yarns that I started out with: blues, purples and rose/pinks. I have some golds and teals that I put back into the stash, but they may sneak back into the working yarn palette later. I put in the gray Brooklyn Tweed Loft too as Stephen suggested that it be included if possible to help cut the weight and to prevent stretching.

Pretty intimidating, but I am getting ready to so some serious yarn winding and should get the project page on Ravelry started soon. Wow. This is a lot of yarn to enter, and then there will be the notes…

Good thing I am a true addict!!

PS: my rheumatologist told me that I should knit as much as I can to help keep functionality in my hands. Never did medical advice fall on such fertile soil… not that I needed another excuse. 🙂

MacKenzie Speaks: Meet the Danzig Shawl

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat
Do I look a little grumpy here? It’s hot!!

The Mother of Cats has been hard at work getting all of her knitting projects done. The last one in her WIP basket was this shawl that has been dragging on for weeks.

Cat and knitting.
I don’t understand why she is so slow sometimes. I help her as much as I can…
Shawl
Here is her shawl the day that we started it. Nice colors, huh. She got that pink yarn for her birthday last year, and the gray is some yarn that she had in her stash. She won’t let me play in the stash room; I think that she needs to learn to share her toys a little better, don’t you?
Cat sitting on shawl.
We finished knitting the shawl early this week and once it was blocked (WHY does she cover it with towels while it is blocking? Doesn’t she understand how yummy it is to roll around in wet wool?) we took it outside for pictures. Gosh, this is nice and squishy. Too bad it isn’t wet any more…
Stitch Detail.
Look at how cool the stitch is in the colored sections. The Mother of Cats had to keep turning the knitting back and forth to make the “pebbles”, which was exciting for me as I got to whap the yarn every time she made a turn. She called it “short rows”. Whatever. I called it exciting.
Detail of knitting.
She even used a row of the “pebbles” at the edge of the shawl. Yummy!
Shawl
Here’s the big view of the finished shawl. Hmmm… wouldn’t that look nice in my cat bed?

 

Cat in garden.
So that’s it. She’s taking a little break from the knitting while she gets gardening and other stuff done. Me, I’m hanging out in the cat mint staying cool. Maybe a little later I’ll visit with the Enemy Cat from next door… NOT!! Yellow Boy put a claw into him a couple of days ago and that was the last time he come over the fence into OUR YARD!! Good riddance. I must say, I was a little shocked by some of the language that came out of Yellow Boy’s mouth. Who knew he was a secret brawler?

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

Shawl

  • I am very happy with the size and fit of this shawl. After knitting three “Find Your Fade” shawls this one was the perfect size for easy wearing. The pattern is Danzig by Justyna Lorkowska,  and my Ravelry project notes are here.
  • MacKenzie was an adult when I adopted him, and he had picked up quite a few bad habits before he came home with me. Actually, he was a handful, and clearly needed more stimulation than I could provide. I found him a Maine Coon kitten to be his companion, and while MacKenzie is my pet, Yellow Boy is MacKenzie’s baby that he grooms and fusses over. Yellow Boy is easily frightened and has been know to wail from time to time. Who knew he would put Enemy Cat into his place?
  • I started a new sweater a couple of days ago and spent time organizing yarn for the next massive knitting project, the Marled Magic Sweater by Stephen West. He suggested that at least 1500 grams of yarn be gathered up to use in the shawl. Done! I’ll show it off in my next post.