The Saturday Update: Weeks 47 & 48

Wow. We’re getting kind of close to the end of the year. These last two weeks just kind of flew by for me as I spent most of them either 1) asleep or 2) knitting. That’s right. I am drowning in knitting projects, dreaming of color, yearning for more yarn, and pretty much out of control. My two autoimmune diseases, Sjogren’s and systemic sclerosis, also decided to be out of control for several days as I slipped into a flare, loaded up on more drugs, and spent days in bed mindlessly listening to audiobooks that I can’t remember now and watching television that I normally would never consider… last Sunday the idea of a shower was so exhausting that I just stayed in bed all day and watched Russian figure skating. I don’t want to brag or anything, but this may have been an historic low for me… if I end up watching monster truck demolition derbies I will definitely have hit bottom…

It was also Hannah’s 8th month birthday last week. Not the best light for the picture… do you know how hard it is to get a kitten to pose with you?

In the meantime I have been making lists of things to do in my journal. Good heavens, I am going to need a few more weeks in the year. On the other hand, since we are talking about 2020, it is probably best to just hustle it right out the door as soon as possible and ignore the list!

Anyway, I magically emerged from the flare early this week and I’m back to knitting like crazy and dreaming of new color combos to put together some additional projects. Maybe I ordered some more yarn too. Hey, things are getting crazy out there is Covid-19 land, so best to stock up, right?

Knitting

The next knitting MAL that will be run by Sharon from Security (Casapinka‘s poorly paid and overworked staff member who is currently outraged about the mouse that ran through the palace in an episode of The Crown and is also hiding out from the ringworm that has been brought into the house by a newly acquired staff member joining the Casapinka operation… ) is the highly anticipated Secret Life of Cats (and dogz). I have the yarn, I bought the pattern, and I am waiting with great anticipation for the first instructions to drop on December 1st. Oops. That is like… NEXT TUESDAY!!! I am in the middle of Slipstravaganza (Stephen West), and it is growing into an absolute monster. Must. Knit. Faster.

I am just driven to get this shawl done. I absolutely love the way the colors and textures are working out as I knit the shawl. I did hang back on this project and waited for other people to knit and show theirs off before I cast on; the final product is just stunning and I am motivated to get as much done as I can before Secret Life arrives next week. I don’t think that I will get it all done in time, but hopefully I will be into the final clue soon. It is now too large to show off well on the needles so the big picture will have to happen after I get it all cast off. I understand that the cast off takes about 5 hours… this is the dark side of getting into a MKAL with a lot of other chatty and supportive knitters. 🙂

Meanwhile I did get a few other things done in the knitting world. I finished up my socks made with Hue Loco yarn (colorway Elixir) and wound up the yarn for the next sweater that I want to make. Oh. About that sweater. I am going crazy with the color combos. I wound the yarn that I first chose, and then decided to switch to a warmer fall colored pinkish yarn. Sigh. What do you think?

The sweater is Solvi by Jennifer Steingass, and that picture to the left is her copyrighted photo that I swiped off Ravelry. The soft black yarn will be the sweater body, and the blue Hue Loco was my first pick for the contrast, but I’m thinking that I will be a lot happier with the pinkish Six and Seven Fiber yarn on the far right. The pinkish yarn is called “Forever September” which kind of clinched the deal for me. Best time of the year, right?! All inputs gratefully accepted on my color choices. I also have a fabulous red yarn with black flecks that could be used. I’m drowning in color decisions, people!!

I almost forgot to show off the socks. Here they are… Tada!!

Garden

Hannah and I are are spending more time working with the indoor plants where she excels as a helper. Did I mention that she is shredding the fronds of my palm and carrying the bits that she is able to remove from the plant around the house to use as toys? Still, it is a huge plant and if she is happy, I’m happy, and even the palm seems to be happy as it has started growing two new fronds since Hannah started giving it so much love.

Most of the plants are putting out new growth now and there is very little blooming going on except for the orchids that I brought home from the grocery store. The African violet is getting huge, and the jade plants are putting out lots of new growth in response to the pruning that I gave them last summer. My jade plants don’t bloom, but boy do they respond well to pruning!

Reading

I listened to two silly military science fiction books this week that stole plot elements and characters from at least a half dozen other books in the genre and made endless references to the game of chess, movies, and other science fiction books with reckless abandon. If you have been steadily reading science fiction for over 50 years like I have then you get most of the jokes and catch the popular culture and movie references, which made the dialogue a little snappy with the inside jokes, but it also seemed like the authors were two guys showing off their credentials to help me overlook the fact that they weren’t all that original in their thinking. Anyway, the pace was rapid, the story line inventive (well, if you scramble enough plots together you get lots of twists and turns, right?), and the best part was if I fell asleep and missed a couple of chapters it was no big deal. 🙂

I think that I should allow these books to remain nameless. Just another chapter in my flare last week!

Well, that’s it.

Have a great week, everyone!!

Please stay safe.

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

And wear your mask!!

The Saturday Update: Week 46

What a good week I had this week. Okay, the Covid-19 numbers are rocketing up into the stratosphere while people on Facebook still vent about governmental overreach and their refusal to wear a mask (!), but the weather was nice and Hannah and I had a very productive couple of days reading in bed and knitting like banshees. (I bet you didn’t know that banshees knit. Of course they do, and they are very fast while never, ever, dropping a stitch!) I got to the grocery store late one evening and stocked up for a few weeks and cooked up some yummy meals that will last me through the next week. I also went crazy and bought a whole package of creampuffs. It’s my pandemic, and I will eat creampuffs if I want to!!

Knitting

Let’s get right to the knitting, shall we? I finished my Misurina!! Early in the week I took the stitches off the needles and onto a yarn holder to check for fit and things looked good!! Boy, did that get me fired up to knit like crazy! The pattern is for a cropped sweater and advised that you knit 5 inches below the armhole before binding off, but I was like, NOPE!, I will keep knitting until I run out of yarn because cropped isn’t the best look for little short-waisted me. To make sure I had a good feel for the yarn amount I finished the sleeves with my second cake of yarn and then blended the two yarns together as I transitioned from the first cake to the second in the body. I kept picking up speed during the week and finished binding off early this morning. Today I misted the sweater with water and hovered a steam iron over it to block it and the finished sweater is just what I wanted. Look!!

It’s a little tee type sweater that just rocks! Seriously, this is such a comfortable item to wear and I couldn’t be happier. The sweater is knit fairly loosely but is surprisingly warm and a nice layering item. Caitlin Hunter for the win again!! My Ravelry notes are here.

I seem to have spent the rest of the week agonizing over the colors and yarns to use in the next batch of knitting projects. Hannah and I went through the yarn stash over and over as I pulled out yarns and tried to dream up color combinations. I would make a decision only to change my mind the next day and back into the stash we would go. I want to make a Solvi sweater. I bought the pattern for Slipstravaganza but never cast on as I was buried in other knitting projects. Okay, I will be honest… Stephen West is really artistically adventurous and I was a little nervous about committing 5 whole skeins of yarn to a knitting extravaganza if I didn’t know what it was going to look like. I worried about where to put light and dark colors. I love my yarn and didn’t want to waste any… but as this week went on and people in the group began to publish their finished shawls I loved what I was seeing! Now that I know what the final project is I can make good choices about colors and knitting order. I need to make one of these!! I maybe need to make two of them! The pattern required 2 skeins of a main color and three more contrast colors, and after much stash diving Hannah and I came up with two combos of yarn and colors.

I think that the yarns on the left are going to be my first shawl, but I am really torn about the yarns on the right as they might be more useful in the winter. I have two skeins of that navy yarn so it will be the main color; that inky blue sort of screams winter, right? On the other hand, the cheery colors of the yarns on the left might be exactly what I need right now. There is a lot of yarn in these shawls so whichever I pick is going to be my main project for the month along with the sweater. So many decisions. So much yarn that I need to wind…

I am also waiting for The Secret Life of Cats (and dogz), the next knitting adventure designed by Sharon from Security, Casapinka’s snarky, sushi chomping, citation writing, but mostly supportive-to-knitters feline employee. This adventure will be coming in a few more weeks, but I wanted to get started on the yarn selection and came up with these happy and wild colors:

I posted the pictures of the yarn on Facebook to ask if they were too wild for The Secret Life and Sharon says they are A-okay. Yay. More yarn to wind!!

There is also a pattern for a Siamese cat wearing a little Fair Isle sweater that is going to be published by Claire Garland next week. I need that too. I think that some other members of my family are going to want one of them also… the cat doesn’t absolutely need to be a Siamese, as other cats probably also wear darling Fair Isle sweaters… So much knitting, so little time…

Books

Did you notice that I jumped right over the gardening? No gardening going on here lately. Most of my plants are still alive, but how interesting can pictures of jade plants and orchids be when there aren’t any blooms. Hey, do jade plants bloom? Why haven’t I seen any blooms? I may have to look into this…

I’m still immersed in the adventures of Giordano Bruno, philosopher, spy and crime investigator in the 16th century.

I finished Conspiracy last week (Bruno solved the murder mystery, got his lost knife back, and even connected with that woman he was hoping to find in Paris) and started Execution right away. Hey, Bruno has abandoned Paris and King Henri and we are back in London again. Bruno is once again involved in high intrigue uncovering a plot that threatens the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and wouldn’t you know, there has been a murder. Of course. Bruno must insert himself into the conspiracy to execute Elizabeth to make way for Mary Stuart (and the supremacy of the Catholic church in England), derail the plot, solve the murder, keep his knife safely at his side, and maybe, maybe convince the woman of his dreams to marry him. It’s a lot. I’m reading my way steadily through this latest chapter in Bruno’s adventures. I think that this is the last book in the series for now so I’m going to have to divert to another genre again after this. I do have a nice science fiction waiting for me…

Well, that’s it.

Have a great week, everyone!!

Please stay safe.

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

And wear your mask!!

The Saturday Update: Weeks 44 and 45

Late again, late again. I feel like a character from Alice in Wonderland. This time my excuse is the horrific anxiety associated with 2020 in general, and the presidential election in specific. I’ve been struggling with my scleroderma all week: blue-lipped and short of breath, struggling to walk, fatigued and in pain. Not a good week at all! I stayed in bed this weekend with Hannah and my knitting and I am finally coming out of it tonight. It hasn’t been helping me that the Covid numbers in my state are just skyrocketing to new heights and near by municipalities are clamping down with curfews and other restrictions. Sigh. Thank heavens there is a state-wide mask mandate that applies to stores or I wouldn’t be able to go out at all. I’m now in my 8th month of stay-at-home, and the end is nowhere in sight.

Is it safe to go out now? Nope. Not yet, Hannah!

In other 2020 news I now have email arriving in my inbox in Italian. I don’t read Italian… Who had this on their 2020 Bingo card?

It is snowing like crazy in the mountains this evening and we are finally coming to the end of our wildfires. Yay!!

Knitting

So, while resting up and avoiding the never-ending, anxiety-inducing election results I did get a lot of knitting done. Hannah was an exceptional help as I steadily worked on my shawl for most of a week, and then supervised the blocking for me as I worked with pins and blocking wires. Let me present to you my finished Far Away Dreams shawl (Joji Locatelli).

I am so pleased with how this turned out. Soft and very squishy from the garter stitch, it is perfect to wear on a cold evening or while reading in bed. I am coming to appreciate rectangular shawls as they are shorter in the back so they stay free when you are sitting down and are fairly easy to bunch up around your neck as a scarf under a coat. I ran out of the blue yarn so after some stash diving I decided to use the black MCN yarn for the outer trim, which totally worked as the lace yarn had black and blue flecks in it. So happy with the final result!

Once the shawl was blocking I dived back into my bag of unfinished projects and pulled out a hibernating sweater and those socks that I cast on with Hue Loco yarn a couple of weeks ago. I’ve focused on the sweater this week and the sock is seeing a little action too. Check it out!!

This is Misurina by Caitlin Hunter, a short sleeved cropped sweater knit with fingering yarn on rather large gauge of 20 stitches per inch. I am knitting this on size 6 needles to make this yarn work, and I am so happy with the fabric coming off the needles. I just separated the sleeves from the body of the sweater so things are going to go much faster now. I’m kind of wondering about knitting another one using DK yarn from the stash; I have enough yarn to make one with long sleeves. Hmmm…

I’m also working a little on the socks being knit with Hue Loco yarn (remember… I sort of lost control and went on a spending spree a few weeks ago and got yarn in every color in the new Fall palette. I regret nothing! It is important to have fun and some reckless moments while times are just crazy all around you…). Anyway, this sock is being knit with the Elixir colorway.

Elixir is the colorway next to the Uschitita on the left side of the picture. I’m working more steadily on the socks now as I can’t wait to cast on another color from the buying spree… I’m already dreaming about casting on the blue Uschitita or the purple Hue Loco…

Garden

It has gotten a little chancy for plants that live outside now that the ovenight temperatures dip below freezing so I ordered some shelves online and brought in my favorite miniature roses from outside and set them up in the living room to create an indoor garden. So happy to knit in my garden again in the afternoon sunshine in that room. The perfect spot to read. The favored cat nap spot…

Right now the leaves are falling off the roses as they adjust to the new conditions, but in my experience new leaves will arrive in the coming weeks that are adapted to the living room’s light levels. Yay!!

Reading

I am really in a mystery mood right now. I finished one last week and am working on a historical mystery/suspense book now that I’m enjoying.

Careless Whiskers is a cozy mystery and a fast read. The main character, Charlie, works part time in the college library and solves murders on the side. It’s a fun gig if you can get it. 🙂 He lives in the 3 story house that he inherited from his deceased aunt that is too perfect for words: the house comes with a housekeeper who takes care of everything including the laundry and cooks fabulous southern meals on the side. She even takes care of the cats! To make this even more envy-inducing Charlie has boarders who help out with cat-sitting and provide the meals when Azalea is off on the weekends. There is a giant Maine coon cat and a kitten in the book; both of these animals are perfectly behaved and never chase squirrels or climb the curtains… did I say that this is a cozy mystery? Anyway, there is a theatrical production, players with enormous egos, a death, and a cast of suspects that includes Charlie’s daughter. Charlie eliminates suspects between naps and meals that feature more biscuits then I eat in a year while taking the perfectly-behaved cat almost everywhere he goes. See, a perfect book to read during a difficult week.

I’m about halfway through Conspiracy and greatly enjoying the characters and the story. Okay, Giordano Bruno is one of my favorite characters ever!! A philosopher at odds with the Catholic church and an intrepid solver of murders, he is neck deep in intrigue in Paris this time. The battle for control between religious factions in Paris is pretty intense as Huguenots conspire to place their candidate on the throne which is currently occupied by a Catholic king. Bruno is caught in the middle of all of this as he is forced to work for King Henri, the English ambassador, and several other players on the board. Whew. Things are tough for Bruno who is trying to handle some personal issues of his own (like, maybe he can be restored to a state of grace with the Catholic church and perhaps run down a women he kind of likes…) while getting ambushed by different agents of the factions battling for control, and… he keeps losing his knife! The knife that Sir Francis Drake gave him in the last book! Surely, the knife will be recovered soon… Bruno needs his knife! This is an engaging book to be sure and I can’t wait to get to the end of it because I have another Bruno book waiting for me on the kindle. Yay! Good reading times.

Well, that’s it.

Have a great week, everyone!!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

Hannah’s World: It’s Sewing Day!

Hi. I’m Hannah.

There’s a lot going on in my world!

Today the Kitten Mom decided to sew some more face masks. I am a very busy girl, but I decided to hang out with her and help as much as I could.

The Kitten Mom used a computer to help her sew the masks. I tried to help out with the computer but she made me sit on the cutting table.
It’s kind of hard to see from over here… Why does the Kitten Mom need a mask? Wouldn’t it be better to just have whiskers? She should look into that…

After the masks were done she got out her quilting and we started working on that. Woohoo! I really like the quilt as there is a lot of papers and fabrics and stuff for me to play with. I dragged off some of the fabric to my playhouse downstairs and played with the pin cushion for awhile. Why does the Kitten Mom say NO! so much?

Gee… I really love playing with papers…
The Kitten Mom took my papers away from me too!! Do you see that the paper says to “Remember to relax and have fun”? Kitten Mom needs to read her papers more!

That’s okay. I still found lots of things to do after she took away my papers. I dragged away some yarn to play with and took a nap right under her chair. I found a knitted cat hat to play with on a cabinet and… this little cat statue fell off… and it broke-ed…

It’s okay though. I helped the Kitten Mom find all of the pieces and then she let me play with the hat some more.

Now the day is done and we are upstairs working on this post. For some reason the Kitten Mom says she is exhausted, but I have tons and tons of energy left. I still want to play in my papers and chase around the house. I haven’t played with the palm downstairs yet this afternoon. Maybe I can convince the Kitten Mom to wiggle her feet so I can jump on them. Do you think that it is too soon for cookies?

I’ll just hang out up here until I can get her to get up and play with me again. Maybe if I knock down a book… I bet you I can walk on the door jam… do you think that I can jump all the way over to the ceiling fan?

Bye.

I have stuff I have to do!

I’m such a good kitten.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Kitten Mom: Sewing with Hannah is pretty darn stressful; I finally developed a headache and quit for the day. The scariest part is keeping her away from the hot iron… and the electricity… and moving sharp things… I found the pin cushion under the bed this evening: it was pretty easy as I just had to follow the trail of pins on the carpet.

She really is the best little kitten ever!

The Saturday Update: Week 43

Oh, boy. What a week it has been. Election related news is heating up as we come into the homestretch for our presidential election. Covid-19 case numbers are climbing steeply in the state. The fires in our mountains continue and towards the end of the week a couple of new fires erupted and, in high wind conditions that kept aerial firefighting operations on the ground, literally exploded into a monster within hours. People scrambled to get to safety as the newest fire, the East Troublesome fire (really, that is the name…), grew 100,000 acres in one day, crossed the Continental Divide, and now threatens to merge with another fire, the Cameron Peak fire, which is currently the largest wildfire in Colorado’s history. The smoke plume from these fires is amazing as it fills the sky to our north. Both fires are burning in Rocky Mountain National Park and threatening the surrounding communities. It seems like just yesterday that I took this picture in RMNP…

Rocky Mountain National Park
This is the view south from the Visitor’s Center. I don’t know if this forest is still there. If you look closely you can see areas with dead trees in the pictures. One of the problems that we are having here is beetle kill in the forests caused by climate change.

Because of the extreme drought right now the forest is really dry and vulnerable to fire. This is the worst fire season in my memory; the wind has been blowing so strongly the burning embers are starting new fires downwind from the main conflagrations. As I said, it is a mess. Today, however, things took a turn for the better.

It’s really cold outside and snowing! We expect almost a foot down here by my house, and more in the mountains. This won’t be enough to stop the fires, but it certainly is a welcome break for the firefighters as this will certainly slow down the fire activity for them. Yay!!

Still inside avoiding the smoke I have been consumed with crafting and cleaning. I shredded piles of old financial records, sewed more face masks, washed all of the linens and cleaned out cupboards, and… well… I played with yarn and did a little online yarn shopping. Just a little. I needed a little more yarn. Blue yarn.

Seriously, there is a post growing in my mind about all of the blue in my life at the moment. Yarn. Books. Curtains. Toys for the kitten. Oh, yeah. There is also a post incubating about all the convoluted yarn decisions I’ve been making and the angst about color matches. I’ve decided to ignore these growing posts and all my little yarn issues for the moment and jump right into sock yarn.

I have been visiting Hue Loco online and checking out all of the new colors for the fall. I had already bought that blue speckled yarn on the left at my LYS, and it really, really needed some new friends. I ended up buying a skein of each of the new colors at Hue Loco with the thought that I would make socks from each skein and then, once I had a feel for the colors in the skeins, go on to combine them in a larger project like a sweater. Okay, I just wanted to have the yarn.
I started the first pair of socks this week. This color is called Elixir, which is the second skein from the left in the picture above. This is not how I thought this yarn would look, but I am loving it!

If you don’t know Hue Loco already, it is a local Colorado dye studio and I really like the colors. (It is also located right in the smoke plume of those wildfires right now, so I am really happy to support the studio.) New colors appear each two weeks which is a little bit of a problem for me as I discover with each new issue of yarn that it would be absolutely perfect for project that I’m working on. As I make project decisions I also discover that I need a couple more skeins of some yarn (usually blue) to make everything work. Okay, I have a lot of knitting that is getting lined up. So much yarn, so little time…

I need to clear away some projects to open up the slots for my new sweaters-in-waiting. I have a sweater, a shawl, some gloves, and a whole slew of socks that are WIPs, so I’m motivated to knit at the moment. I’ve been working on my new Far Away Dreams (Joji Locatelli) shawl steadily this week, but it isn’t all that nice to show off at the moment as it is basically a big blog of squishy blueness slowly getting some lace added on the edges. See what I mean?

Yep. One big blue blog of squishy yarn. I’ve just gotten started on the lace portion of the edging so there isn’t all that much to show off. Maybe by next week there will be lace worth showing off. I’m making kind of slow progress because…
I’m getting so much help from Hannah!

Since I don’t have really nice knitting photos to show off I thought I should throw in one of the finished Secret Handshake cowl.

Isn’t that the cutest cowl ever? I’m wearing it tonight to stay warm as it is about 5 degrees outside and that is definitely cowl weather!!

I’ve written about the Secret Handshake MKAL in the last couple of posts, so I won’t go over all the fun shenanigans online as a member of this knitting group, but I have to mention that the cutest, most perfect retro camping trailer has arrived in Casapinka’s backyard and Sharon is freaking out today as she finally has to come clean about secretly buying it online using the boss’ PayPal account. Did I mention that the next MKAL designed by Sharon is a glamping blanket to use in the camper?

Hannah: Way to go, Sharon!! Could you please send me a PM about how that PayPal thing works?

So that kind of takes care of the knitting of the week. I’ve also been reading away at a new science fiction series and a couple of murder mysteries, but haven’t finished any of them. Think of them as book WIPs. 🙂 My poor garden is buried under the snow at the moment except for three miniature roses that I dragged inside (to Hannah’s joy), but they are a not worth showing off at the moment as they were beat up in a sleet storm a couple of nights ago. I’m debating building them a shelf along the south facing sliding glass door instead of putting them under grow lights this year because…

Hannah has decided that torturing playing with plants is one of the best things ever and I’m a little concerned about having more electricity and glass lights near the plants that she is drawn to.

Have a great week, everyone!!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 41 and 42

Crazy days continue with no end in sight. Covid-19 cases are escalating here in my state and the county just reinstated restrictions but we aren’t in a full lockdown yet. My neighbors complain about wildlife in their yards: the mountain lion seems to have moved on, but now there has been an outbreak of raccoons. Please, 2020, don’t bring me a raccoon, unless, of course, it is a knitted one! The fires in the mountains west of me exploded into life again this week and another serious fire broke out today just north of Boulder, Colorado, which means there are three fires sending their smoke directly into the Denver Metro area.

This wall of smoke rolled into the Denver Metro area yesterday afternoon. Tonight the smoke plume will be worse as a coming cold front pushes the smoke down over us.

The evacuations and road closures are going on while I write this, and I do hope that people stay safe and that the firefighters are getting all of the support that they need. Needless to say I am holed up inside because of the smoke and neglecting my garden something awful. The knitting has been pretty darn productive, however!! I got two big projects done this week.

I finished both The Secret Handshake MKAL (that’s the cowl on the right that Hannah has been yarn chomping helping me with every evening) and the Age of Gold shawl this week. That’s the way it always seems to work for me and multiple projects: after weeks and weeks of knitting on several projects at once they start to all finished within days of each other. I still have several projects still going, but I’m starting to think that they will be finishing up before the end of the month too.

So, can you see the colors in the shawl? The yarn is Mad Tosh sock yarn dyed in the colorway “Rocky Mountain Colorado” that just pulls together all the colors of our trees changing in the mountains that are now, sadly, smoke shrouded from the wildfires. The colors are just perfect and they just make me happy. Did you pick up on that lace border?

Isn’t that the sweetest lace border ever? It’s the first time I’ve been told to purl 15 strands of yarn together, but after a couple of attempts I had caught on and the final product was so worth the effort. The lace is disappointing until you wet block it with the points pinned; then you understand what was going on with all of the double yarn overs and crazy purling of two stitches together through the back loops… learning new things is good. Warning: this is a project that demands lace point needles!

I need to let you know how much I have enjoyed The Secret Handshake. This cowl was another project designed by Sharon from Security (Casapinka‘s cat and tuna-starved, underpaid employee who also engages in spy activities on the side) that was launched in response to whining protests from popular demand by the groups on Facebook and Ravelry. I belong to the Facebook group (called “The Sharon Show“) and I have never been in such a positive, inclusive, supportive group before. I just love these people!! I also love Sharon (please, Sharon, no citation for me because I was very compliant about weaving in my loose ends…), who has bought a little camper online that will be fixed up to be a total pink kitty wonder that I hope to see someday when it travels to a city (or glamping ground) near me. This second MKAL is now over, but there are people who have just arrived in the group who have just bought the yarn and pattern for the first MKAL and they are all welcomed with open arms and endless encouragement and advice. How cool is that?

Sharon, picture by Casapinka

A you can see I am slowly becoming more comfortable with the new WordPress editor, but I’m still on a big learning curve. I know that most of you are in the same boat: are we having fun yet? I am still searching to find the way to put in tags and categories… I have lots of ideas for blog posts swirling in my head, so I should be posting more frequently in the coming weeks.. Seriously. I want to write about all the things that annoy me since Karen posted a quiz about that this week. I am going crazy planning out a couple of new sweaters. I am on a yarn buying spree right now; why are all the yarns that I am buying blue? Why did I only buy two skeins of each color? What color socks should I cast on next? And while I am thinking about it, why are all the books that I am reading right now blue?

I’m reading Treachery right now, and completed the other two books over the last two weeks. See, blue books. Two of them are murder mysteries, and the other is a science fiction that is hard to stick into one genre. All three of them have held my attention and I find myself reading long into the wee hours of the morning as… I find myself on a train, traveling down a mountain in a snowstorm on the way to diplomacy, treachery, a kidnapping, and the slow evolution of two species/societies as a new ruler grows into his own. (Divergence) On another early morning I find myself traveling through the streets of Paris, learning history, architecture, and lord knows what else (archives, engineering, financial markets and magnets?!) as Chief Inspector Gamache gets to the bottom of a conspiracy, issues within his family, tragedies, professional betrayals, and murder. (All The Devils Are Here) Right now I am roaming the streets of Plymouth, England in the 16th century getting to the bottom of a series of murders and other matters of intrigue that need to be cleared up before Sir Francis Drake can leave on his next voyage to wreak havoc on the Spanish. Also there is a book that can overturn the entire history of the Christian church… (Treachery).

Great reads, every single one of these. I have two more books lined up waiting for me on the Kindle.

They are also blue…

Have a great week, everyone!!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

Update: Another fire erupted in our foothills today making a total of 5 fires blazing away and sending smoke east while people scramble to evacuate safely, roads are closed, and firefighting measures employed. It is a really tough time in Colorado right now: keep us in your thoughts.

The Saturday Update: Week 40

Okay, okay, I’m late again. The new WordPress editor is kicking my butt, it is extremely smoky outside, and I was busy with errands for much of the week so I didn’t get as much done as I wanted. I kept telling myself that I would post when I got a little more progress done on a project so that it would make a nice picture. Just a little more, I would tell myself…

Anyway, here I am, late again but with some progress to show off. Look at what I got done!!

I finished this Itty Bitty Kitty for my cousin’s birthday present (late, of course) using left over yarn from my several over knitted cats.
Right now he is hanging out with MacKnitzie. The pattern is Itty Bitty Kitty by Claire Garland.

The other knitting that I’ve been busy with is the Secret Handshake MKAL by Sharon from Security with a little help from Casapinka. I am so happy with what is happening with the cowl that is being produced in 4 colors. I picked a speckled, a variegated, and two solid yarns for my cowl after digging around in the stash. I’m pretty happy with what I found:

I pulled yarn from the stash and ended up with these four. I was worried about how it all would go together so I paid careful attention to Sharon’s directions about when to use the speckled yarn, and when a solid would work well, and ended up with…
this!! This is Clue 1 finished with all four yarns in it. I’m so happy with how the colors are coming together. Now that I have finally finished the (still unmailed) Itty Bitty Kitty I can start on Clue 2. What a cool cowl this is going to be!!

So, what else is going on? Since I’m still struggling with this new editor (which I think will eventually be a wonderful thing to use as soon as I’m through the learning curve…) I’m just going to throw up a couple of other pictures. How about one showing what is happening in the garden?

Now that the extreme heat of the summer is over the flowers in all of my pots have recovered and are blooming like crazy. It is fun having blooms around while the leaves are falling off of the trees.

I’m behind on book reading as I was focused on getting that gift kitty done, but now that I’m caught up again I am looking forward to a week piled up with Hannah and a book. Doesn’t that sound great? Speaking of Hannah, how about a cute picture.

Hannah dreaming of kitty cookies in her sleep…

Have a great week, everyone!!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 38 & 39

Ugh. The last two weeks have been a blur. I’ve been rolling with the punches and trying to make the best of things as I dealt with all the good, bad, and ugly of the last 14 days. My son is better and is out of the hospital. I fractured a rib on the opposite side from my bad hip, and walking with a cane became utter torture for a week. My outdoor roses are blooming their hearts out. I had bloodwork done and I’m happy to report that I am recovering some lost ground with my scleroderma-induced organ damage. Ruth Bader Ginsberg died. The smoke rolled back in from the western wildfires, my symptoms flared, and the weather turned nasty hot again. Inhaled steroids brought my symptoms back under control in just a couple of days! My neighbor repaired the fence between our yards: this is great news because… pit pull in her yard. The Covid-19 death toll passed 200,000 in the US. I bought some wicked cute new clothes. Miss Pitty-Pat, the cutest hamster ever, died. I went crazy and bought new yarn, and I finished knitting my fabulous The Sharon Show.

It is done.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this entire MKAL experience. It was so much fun; the rapidly changing knitted elements in the shawl made it engaging and interesting, and the support and camaraderie of the Facebook group was just amazing. Did I mention that there is cat snark and policing going on, not to mention the multi-state chase of a stolen squad car with a platter of sushi in the glove box? In fact, the whole thing has been so positive that the adventure continues with another MKAL being run by Sharon that is a cowl called The Secret Handshake and the  Facebook group is all atwitter with excited knitters showing off their yarn, the first knitted efforts with Clue 1, their drinks (yes, these clues come with beverage recipes…), and the kittens that they just adopted. If you don’t want to own a cat, this is a dangerous group for you as kitten adoption seems to be contagious right now…

Speaking of kittens, Hannah and I had our birthdays last week and we made cookies to celebrate.  As chance would have it, my birthday and Hannah’s 6 month birthday were the same day.

This is Hannah on the day I brought her home…

And on our birthday last week. Boy, has she grown.

I had planned a post all about Hannah, but it kind of flamed out in the general chaos of the last two weeks. She is growing fast and has really started to develop a personality all her own. Especially when I’m working in the kitchen!

Which brings me back to the cookies. 50 years ago I copied this cookie recipe out of my mom’s loose leaf collection of favorites. It was originally a gumdrop recipe that has been adapted to become my family’s favorite chocolate chip recipe. Here it is for you, as a birthday present from me. 🙂

These cookies are coming to you straight out of the 50’s. Enjoy!

Cream together:

    • 1 cup softened butter
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 cup white sugar

Add and mix well:

    • 2 large (or extra large) eggs

Add to the bowl and mix well:

    • 2 cups white flour (I never bother to sift)
    • 2 cups fast cooking (minute) oatmeal
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • (1 tsp. salt – I never add this as I am living the salt free life and if there was salt in the butter you may not want it. Suit your own taste.)

Add in 12 ounces of chocolate chips (or about 2 cups) and mix well. If the mixture is too crumply for your liking you can add a little milk.

Spoon cookie amounts of the dough onto the cookie sheet, flatten a little if you like with a little pat, and bake about 10-12 minutes at 350°F. The cookies should be lightly brown on top and will spread as they bake; they puff up while baking and then flatted when they are done. Let them cool before you start eating them!! These cookies freeze well and have survived shipment in care packages many times over the years.

My mom would put all kinds of things into the dough… raisins, chopped dates, nuts, gummi bears, shredded coconut, you name it. It’s your cookie, make it your own!! The total amount of additives should be around two cups. I’ve also used old fashioned rolled oats, but I didn’t enjoy them as much as the instant oats.

Happy cookie crunching, everyone!

I think that I may now go online and buy a little more yarn while crunching my own cookies…

The Saturday Update: Week 37

Well, this was a week. It seemed much, much longer, but really, it was only a week. My youngest son alerted me that he was battling some type of infection early in the week and the news stations began alerting me that the weather was going to be just wacko for a few days. The forecast was so crazy we made the national news.

Yep. We broke a record for the heat amid warnings of a serious snow storm on the way. The smoke from wildfires in the mountains west of me kept the sky a dirty white color and the sun a sullen red ball as I brought all of the potted plants into the garage for safety before the expected snow and hard freeze. The temperature dropped over 60°F in 24 hours and I had to start up the furnace. I covered the roses to protect them and my son started a second prescription of antibiotics.

Two days later the weather had warmed up again, the snow was gone, and I had carted all of the potted plants back outside for a few more weeks of sunshine. The fires in the mountains were chugging back to life after a few days of respite during the snowstorm, and a text had came from my son that started with, “Don’t panic…” His doctor had sent him to the ER, he was transported to a second hospital where he had emergency surgery and landed in the ICU on a respirator overnight. This afternoon he is off the respirator and sending me text messages again while I make calls to his nursing team. Because of Covid I’m not with him right now and I JUST HATE 2020!!! I think that we are all due a break.

Knitting

This was a week for garter stitch for sure. I did some work on the new Misurina sweater early in the week, but by the end of the week, aware that my son was not getting better on his antibiotics, I was all garter stitch, all the way.

I’m further down the yoke of the Misurina sweater (by Caitlin Hunter) and am happy with how it is going.

The colorwork sections of the yoke are separated by little cables, can you see them there in the grey? I was catching the floats in those cable stitches but you can see them peaking through because of the loose gauge so I am just making really long floats now. I don’t like to do that in general, and I have an idea of catching them later on with some clever stitching with grey yarn if they are a problem, but for now extra long floats are the plan.

Lured into a sense of autumn by the cold and snow I cast on another garter stitch shawl using some Mad Tosh sock yarn in the colorway “Rocky Mountain Colorado” that looks like all the colors of fall.

See what I’m talking about?

This is the Age of Gold shawl by Joji Locatelli.

The large garter stitch shawl is finished off with a lace border in a nice contrast color that can pick up one of the colors in the garter fabric. I kind of want to use a dusty pink that I have, but I’m also tempted to buy a beautiful saffron colored yarn I saw online. So many decisions in a week gone bad! Right now I’m just going to keep knitting and once I’ve got more yarn into the shawl I’ll have a better idea about which color I want to highlight. The trick is to make the colors sparkle instead of toning down the shawl… Ironically, because of the extreme heat followed by a hard freeze, the fall colors in our mountains won’t be that nice this year. Thanks again, 2020!!

Garden

Right before the rain started I went out into the smoky air and took some pictures while moving plants into the safety of the garage.

The stonecrop was just starting to bloom and covered with bees. Poor guys… hope they got home before the rain started.

While I was taking the picture of the bee there was a flash of movement to my left… a bunny in the back yard again!!

The stonecrop came through the storm just fine under the tubs I covered them with and the bees are back. I haven’t spotted the backyard bunny again, but the squirrels are putting on a show in the front yard for Hannah as they race around the front ash tree. As I took the knitting pictures yesterday I spotted this under my Douglas Fir (the only good Doug is a dead Doug… poor maligned tree): an owl pellet!!

The first time I’ve ever spotted one of these in the wild!

A little calling card from one of the great horned owls reminding me about the circle of life.

By the way, the mountain lion has been seen a couple of more times, but not in my backyard, thank heavens!!

Books

The Pull of the Stars was great! Set in Ireland, it is the story of a nurse working in a small ward with pregnant women stricken by influenza during the Great Influenza pandemic in 1918. The characters are rich, the historical setting and issues ring true, and I chomped my way though the book in just a couple of days. Along with the pandemic there are threads about the great war, shell shocked soldiers, the fight for Irish independence, prejudice against women, and the abuse of the “pipeline” that consumed women and children not protected by the sanctity  of marriage in 1918 Catholic Ireland.

The title is a nod to the origin of the word “influenza” which comes from an Italian outbreak in medieval times that was attributed to the influence of the stars.Our heroine nurse records each death and loss as tiny scratches on her watch. A moon for a lost mother. Tiny lines and half moons for stillborns and premature births. Every loss is recorded in time from an illness poorly understood and difficult to control. Kind of haunting, huh.

So I attended the live discussion with the author of this book at Barnes and Noble, and it was great! The author, Emma Donoghue talked about her work and answered questions from viewers that were general ones like “why did you choose this situation” or “how difficult was it to portray medical understandings of a century ago”. It was fine, but I also would have like to just “talk” about the book, the characters, and their actions with the other participants. Nope. No spoilers allowed. There must be a way to have reader chit chat just like the real book club would do. I guess I’ll keep digging and maybe ask B&N if there is a way that can be set up. It would be just another Facebook group, right?

Have a great week, everyone!!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

Be kind to each other and stay safe.

It’s time for me to call the hospital again.

The Saturday Update: Week 36

I think that I am just about done with 2020. Never, ever has there been a year so ill behaved in my own memory. Today we hit a record high of 100° F where I live, and on Tuesday it is expected to snow. We had another case of bubonic plague in the state. A geyser in Yellowstone National Park, long dormant, has suddenly returned to life. Covid-19 cases are spiking in the states that surround my own. The nightly news continues to be a horror show, and some of it is just downright triggering. There can be no longer be doubt that the current administration is taking action to accelerate the Covid-19 infection rate in the US; stay tuned, folks: our fatality numbers are going to be astounding. Every day brings more tweeted lies and misinformation meant to contribute to racial tensions and general chaos, and the words “civil war” are popping up more often in my social media timeline.  The president was reported to disparage war dead as “suckers” and “losers” this week, and also encouraged his supporter to vote twice. This is just plain historic, but also very painful. I’m totally over living in interesting times.

Some days it is hard to stay cheerful.

But Hannah and I are doing our best. 🙂 Also, I’ve told Hannah that she can’t play with the squirrels because… plague!

Hannah: There’s a squirrel, Kitten Mom!! Let me out, let me out, let me out…

Shameless hussy squirrel chomping down my flowers, oblivious to the intensely focused kitten at the screen door.

Knitting

This was a hugely productive week knitting-wise. Well, nothing got done, but there was a lot of knitting going on! I am working on a second Far Away Dreams shawl with more yarn from the stash. This mindless garter stitch shawl is perfect and easy to handle while knitting in bed, sucking down oxygen, and listening to an audiobook.

I still have three feet of garter stitch to go before I start on the outer border. I’m going to use a white yarn speckled with blue and black that will be just awesome. Isn’t that a great blue color? Its name is “Denim”.

I also went crazy and cast on a sweater in the middle of the week.

After vacillating between color choices for a couple of weeks I settled on this combo to knit myself a Misurina by Caitlin Hunter.

Misurina has it all going on… cables, lace, colorwork, and some texture too. The original sweater was knit with a single stranded yarn containing a little linen and the gauge was pretty large… 20 stitches per 4 inches. I settled on two colors of single strand yarn that was pretty lofty in my stash and recklessly cast on using size 6 needles last week.

This sweater is knit from the top down and I have just made my way through the lace and am beginning the colorwork. I need to transfer my stitches to a larger size 6 needle, but they are kind of in high demand right now. Hmmm… It may be curbside pickup time at my local yarn store. 🙂

Hannah is a lot of help and is also totally a fan of the cashmere yarn I’m using for the contrast color.

In the background, being knit in chunks when new clues arrive, is my The Sharon Show shawl. If you don’t want to see this, I’m sorry. It really is too good to not show off. It is finally long enough to drape around my shoulders like a shawl which gives you an idea of all the colors and textures going on while this is being knitted.

See what I mean? Texture, lace, crazy stitches you never thought of before all coming together to make a totally fun, cat-crazy experience. Part of the fun is the totally cool and laid back group on Facebook that has been completely supportive of all knitting speeds and color choices.

This shawl and the whole MKAL experience has been the perfect antidote to the crazy world outside my doors. Peace. Joy. Color. Admonitions from Sharon to not be self-critical and to weave in all of the ends!!  Did I mention that each clue comes with a cocktail recipe? One of the best parts is seeing all the color choices of the other knitters: I am so going to have to make another one of these in blues… and maybe earth tones… My Ravelry notes are here.

Garden

The weather was cool for several days before the thermostat went back up into the high 90’s. Many of the potted plants were able to recover over the last week, and things are looking pretty cheerful out front again.

All the geraniums along the front walk are blooming cheerfully again.

The mini roses especially are looking good. Poor things. Little do they know that there is snow on the way…

I’m going to bring all the potted plants into the garage for a couple of days and then will go to heroic lengths to cover and protect the front roses to get them undamaged through the cold front and snowfall on Tuesday. Poor roses. The plants took a lot of damage in the spring from a late hard freeze, and here we go with an early one in the fall. 2020, knock it off!!!

Books

Okay, I lost a couple of days reading a book for my book club that was… not good. I refuse to post its picture online and I’m not going to say anything else expect that I’m pretty much done with my book group. NO one else read the book, and they decided to just get together at a restaurant for happy hour and a return to the days when we used to meet in person, and of course that isn’t something that I can do. I was already pretty disgusted with the week when this happened, and not being able to recover the two lost days of my life BECAUSE I READ THIS STUPID BOOK THAT THEY CHOOSE!!! I headed online looking for options. Hey, Barnes & Noble has an online live book club meet up that I could join. They picked a book that I want to read, and people are already online talking about how excited they are to have the book, and that they are reading the book, and that they can’t wait to talk about the book… I’m in!! I love books, and I want to hang out with other people who also love books, and I would also like to talk about the books!!

This is the book for the Barnes & Noble club. I started it last night!

This book is set in Ireland, during WWI and the Great Influenza pandemic. Our heroine is a nurse taking care of young pregnant women who also have the flu in an isolated fever ward. The book is also crazy timely as the disrespect of WWI fallen troops is a hot item in the news this week, and we all know about the pandemic… I’m only a couple of hours into the book, but it is engaging and interesting; I’m a fan! I’m looking forward to the actual meeting and discussions.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have a great week, everyone!!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

Late Update: Just got a warning on my cell phone that there is a MOUNTAIN LION wandering through my neighborhood. Of course there is. It is 2020.