The Saturday Update: Week 1, 2021

Well, this was an exhausting and fraught week, wasn’t it. I mean, I struggled to knit the week was so bad, and then if that wasn’t enough I logged some personal drama myself. As in…

Yesterday I couldn’t walk on my excessively ill-behaved legs!! I hit bottom after a couple of days of noticing that I was having more breathing issues and sporting blue lips again. What is up with this, 2021? Did 2020 leave you some type of User’s Manual? Just drop that sh*t in the nearest trash can and behave yourself!!

In a normal year I would have called for help and gotten myself into a medical center, but in this year I stayed in bed on oxygen, drugged up, and snacked on the crackers and bai drinks that I keep upstairs. It’s got to be inflammation, I told myself, so I’ll just sleep this off. Yep. Today I’m up and managing like nothing happened. I blame the weather… I absolutely blame 2020 for lingering bad vibes… I blame too many trips in and out of the cold garage…

Look at what is happening in my indoor garden! The new monster orchid has recovered from its trip through the mail and is now looking pretty darn good.

No week or year can be absolutely bad, right?! There was also lots to be happy about. I had great packages on the way to me (squishy mail and the 23andMe DNA kit from my last post), a flourishing indoor garden, two really engaging books to read, and my goodness (!!) the Secret Life of Cats (and dogz) shawl is about as cheerful as a piece of knitted work can be. I’m still thinking about my resolutions for this year (but getting my Covid-19 vaccine is at the top of the list), so I’m just going to ignore all the newsworthy events of the week and jump to what was up at home.

Knitting

I have ONLY ONE knitting project going on at the moment, but it is a doozy. Look at this explosion of color wonderfulness!

I’m now passing the halfway mark. This baby is going to be huge, but wonderful. I wear a lot of black so this will absolutely brighten things up when I wear it.

I totally lost control and ordered yarn for myself last week and I’m practically dying with the need to cast on more projects. Maybe just a little pair of socks? I know that I need to stay away from sweaters, but wouldn’t a cowl be a nice little things to have stuffed into a project bag… I have new yarns with names like “Naughty Chair” and “Troublemaker” that are insisting that I should cast them onto needles as soon as possible. Little projects like that are easier to manage when staying in bed all day with a cat sleeping on you… Do it! Do it! Do it! the yarns chant from the yarn stash…

Garden

Hannah has been spending a lot of time in the indoor garden, and I have to admit that it seems to be doing well even with her knocking plants over and using some of them as toys.

Hannah especially likes the owl in the garden that is supposed to be watching over her… yeah. I had to evacuate the owl to a safe location this afternoon. Several of the jade plants have been staked this week to help prop up the branches that Hannah has shoved over. I think that the problem is that Hannah is growing quickly and spaces that she previously moved through easily are now too small for her so… plants get knocked around, lamps knocked down, and worst of all, she misses some jumps and falls off of ledges that she used to have no problems with. Suddenly that little window sill isn’t quite big enough! Anyway, back to the garden. One of the orchids is blooming and another is putting out a stem, so the winter is cheerier than I first expected. The African violets are still putting out lots of new buds, so the craft room, where the garden is, is currently my happy place.

Books

I started two new books this week and am still reading them, but both have completely captured my attention and I’m planning on finishing at least one of them before the weekend is over.

I’ve been caught up in The Huntress and really enjoying it but yesterday in bed called for an audiobook so I started the second book, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. Now I have a real conflict as I like the Paolini book so much I want to cast on a new knitting project and just listen to it, but the Kate Quinn book is also excellent and I am so close to finishing it I should buckle down and just finish it off… but I can’t knit as easily while reading a paper book. Life is full of these trade offs. Obviously I should finish the paper book as fast as I can so that I can cast on a pair of socks… in blue yarn… with gold sprinkles… the name of the yarn is “Cloud Atlas” which would be nice to knit while in a sea of stars, don’t you think? That’s the plan.

“Naughty Chair” and “Troublemaker”, don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about you. I happen to have 3 little project bags and lots of needles!

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!!

Footnotes:

  • “Naughty Chair” and “Troublemaker” are produced by Hue Loco.
  • “Cloud Atlas” is produced by Uschitita Fiber Art.
  • I was officially accepted into the Systemic Sclerosis Study being conducted by 23andMe this week and they have mailed the DNA collection kit to me.
  • I have stockpiled the yarn to make three new sweaters!! They should make it harder to buy yarn online, don’t you think?

The Saturday Update: Weeks 51 & 52

Can you believe it, this most horrible of years is almost behind us. Whew! I am planning to do an overview of the whole terrible year next week, but right now let’s talk about the Christmas crafting.

Hannah: did you all have fun? I got new toys, tore open presents that weren’t mine and played with all of the papers after presents were opened. It was great!!

I have been crafting along for weeks and not talking about any of it because… presents!! Now that everything has been safely sent off and received here is the whole present overview.

Knitting

I knitted some super warm socks for my sister, made a little mouse for a cousin (with a sweater for him to wear on cold nights raiding the pantry), and a couple of Christmas gnomes for another cousin. The socks are Snowshoe (Emily Foden) socks, the Little Mouse in a Sweater is another Claire Garland design, and the gnomes are Here We Gnome Again by Sarah Schira.

Quilting

I have been working in the evenings on an art quilt that is a present for one of my sons. This son likes to fly fish, so the quilt is a good fit for him. I started the quilt in the spring, but put it away for a few months because of Hannah action that was going on while I was working on the quilt. Now that she is a little older I’m having more success working in the sewing room, but it is still a little stressful.

Hannah: I’m quality help!!

Hannah is still involved in every thing that I’m doing. She bounces around the room climbing in the garden shelves, pulling scraps of fabric out of the trash, stealing the pin cushion, tunneling under loose fabric left out, and closely watching every move of the sewing machine. In situations like these safety protocols are everything: I turn off the sewing machine every time I get up from it and place the steam iron behind a closed door while I’m not using it. Okay, I unplug the iron too. Hannah is really clever at getting into things… Thankfully she understands that she can’t get up on the ironing board now. She also will settle down and nap in artfully placed open boxes with tissue paper in them.

Finally, late Christmas Eve, Hannah and I got the quilt top finished. Oh, you can’t see the quilt’s features with Miss Hannah all over it? It’s hard to make out because it is upside down? Let me show off some of the details…

There is a fisherman casting his lure out over the water with the fish leaping up on the next panel to bite it. There are little bear cubs and a moose walking through aspen trees. Altogether the quilt is a four block wall hanging that I hope will look nice in my son’s new home. I still need to get this quilt top assembled with the batting and the backing, and then there needs to be lots and lots of quilting as I outline each of the little pieces of fabric. I told my son that the quilt is coming, and it (Hannah willing) should be done in another couple of months. This quilt is a Pine Needles (McKenna Ryan) design and its name is Calling Me Home.

Sliptravaganza

I’ve been working on Slipstravaganza for so long I have kind of stopped talking about it as it slipped into the background. In the wee hours of Christmas morning I finally finished casting off the shawl and took a fast snapshot of it in the dim light of my bedroom. Look at all that texture and detail!! Today I blocked it (with Hannah’s help) and as soon as it dries it is going to become my main winter wrap! This is a huge shawl, very showy, but also extremely comfy to wear because of the shape. Did I mention that the white main color yarn is a cashmere blend? This is just perfect for snuggling on cold winter days.

This shawl is made of yarns that I have loved and hoarded for years. Really, I have held onto a couple of these skeins for a decade because the exact right project never came around… when I love a yarn it has to go to a project worthy of it, right?! The pink yarn was bought several years ago on a trip to the Estes Park Wool Market in Estes Park, Colorado. Every time I look at it I smile thinking about the sheep and alpaca I saw that day, not to mention lamb barbeque, cinnamon pecans, and a fabulous day in the mountains! The gold yarn is a silk/yak/merino blend that I bought at a pop-up shop set up in a Boulder, Colorado yarn store that is now closed. I learned to spin and weave in that shop (Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins) and this special yarn is forever linked to that store. Also, I just love the glow of this gold yarn!! The purple I bought in a shop in Arvada, Colorado while visiting yarn stores along the front range of the Rockies as I participated in Yarn Along the Rockies, an annual shop hop in my area of the state of Colorado. How much fun a shop hop is… you pile into cars with your friends, throw caution to the winds as you use Google Maps to navigate through shadowed mountain roads and strange towns to discover a new gem of a yarn store. Inevitably you end up at a great lunch location to swap stories and shopping scores with your friends before heading out again on the hop. Good times!! Needing a yarn to pull these three together I bought two skeins online at Hue Loco (Loveland, Colorado) earlier this year. This shawl is something of a celebration of my well fed and nourished yarn stash as it also showcases the Colorado fiber artists whose work it incorporates. How ironic, at the end of this year that I have spent isolating alone with my pandemic kitten, I have completed this knitted piece of wearable art made from the yarns of my state, acquired as I traveled around it in happier days before I was diagnosed with my autoimmune diseases and Covid-19 appeared in our world. Soft and warm, heavy with happy memories, I am armored against the world outside.

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!!

Hannah’s World: I’m a busy girl!

Hi. I’m Hannah.

I’m 9 months old now and I’m just full of energy and have lots of things to do ! I just finished going through the trash can in the bathroom and pulled several shirts off their hangers in the closet so I thought that I would take a little break to tell you about my day.

The Kitten Mom is busy knitting away on stuff that she is going to send off to other people for Christmas and hasn’t been playing with me as much as she usually does. I’ve been left to entertain myself for days on end!!! Today she actually left me alone in the house while she went to the store. She was gone forever… I counted!!

Look at what I’ve been up to:

I have to check all of the waste baskets every single day for toys; you wouldn’t believe the stuff that gets put in there! There is this little camera on the bookshelf in the bedroom that keeps making noises… what is up with that? I make sure it isn’t up to something nefarious when it starts making noises at me. So maybe I do nudge it a little on the shelf to see if I can make it move some more… or fall down… If Kitten Mom doesn’t keep her knitting bag zipped you know there are some fun toys for me in there! Last week we put together this little machine that makes fogs of water for me to play with: it tickles my paw when I play with it. Oh, yeah. I did get into some trouble for pulling out MacKnitzie’s whiskers…. But the biggest trouble of the whole week happened when…

This was not my fault!! There were birds and squirrels out there and I was just trying to get up a little higher for a better view. Kitten mom should move these (dying) plants out of the way and put in another cat tree for me!!

Well, it is kind of late now and since I’ve just completed running endless laps around the house for half an hour I’m now thinking of joining Kitten Mom for a nice overnight snooze so that we can get up and play again in the morning. I get my favorite smelly fishy food for breakfast in the morning and maybe I will get some cookies too! There are sure to be squirrels back in the front tree for me to watch. Why can’t they come into the house to play with me? Sometimes there are birds by the windows too…

This computer is sort of getting in my way…

Laters.

It’s time for me to get my beauty rest now.

I’m a growing girl you know!

>^..^<

A Note from Kitten Mom:

Yep. I have installed Hannah cams to help me keep track of the very active kitten when I’m not home. I also glued MacKnitzie’s whiskers into place so Hannah can’t pull then out any more… at least that’s the plan.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 49 & 50

What a shock to write down week 50! I have to admit that it is kind of a thrill to get towards the end of this most eventful (and not in a good way) year at last, but it is a reminder of all that I need to get done before the holidays are upon us. I’m trying to get presents finished in time to send off for Christmas and then there are my challenge goals on Ravelry and Goodreads. My Ravelry challenge goal is to get 30 knitting projects done this year and I have only one more to go! Piece of cake. I also wanted to get 50 books finished off this year and that goal is getting close with only three more books to go. We’ll just pretend that there weren’t any plans for the garden, okay? Between heat, smoke, my unhappy lungs and the pandemic there just wasn’t much progress there.

I’ve been reflecting on the year now that we are coming up to the end, but even more so on the last 9 months. I started this year struggling with shortness of breath and sporting blue lips; I felt a little desperate as my symptoms weren’t being taken seriously by my physician team and I pressed for more testing and answers. Exactly 9 months ago today my pulmonologist called to tell me that my oxygen levels were too low overnight when measured in a sleep study: I needed to go on oxygen when I slept. The next day the oxygen concentrator came just as I finished laying in groceries for a few weeks at home alone. By the middle of the next week we were in lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak in my state and little Hannah was born. Three months later I was able to adopt Hannah in a contact-free adoption and today we are rocking the Stay-at-Home lifestyle. This month Hannah is acting like a teenager and I’m feeling a lot friskier myself as many of my symptoms have faded into the background and my blue lips are rarely seen when I glance into the mirror; my latest bloodwork shows that I am maintaining, and I’m meeting next week with my rheumatologist (remotely) to find out what to do about other symptoms that have cropped up. Outside the world is on fire (the COVID numbers are horrific and the drama associated with our election continues…), but in the little world that I’ve built for Hannah and I things are good.

Knitting

I am trapped on Slipstravaganza Island wandering around in the chevron wilderness. I just love this project and worked steadily on it for a week before I had to call a halt to work on Christmas-related knitting. In my defense, the rows are now over 900 stitches each at this point, so the narrow garter stitch chevrons take a few hours to complete. It will be fabulous when it is done and I’m hoping to get back to it as soon as my Christmas presents are in the mail. Wait until you see this thing blocked!!

I love the colors in this shawl so much, and what you can’t see is that there is silk, yak, and cashmere in that yarn that makes it just a joy to work on. Soon, soon, soon it will be done… but not this week.

I can’t show off any of my other knitting projects because… they are secrets! Hello, Christmas presents… I have been working on other undertakings that won’t be named since I also can’t show them off, so… how about I talk about cleaning my yarn stash? I pulled everything out this week to get yarn reorganized again by types, sources, and colors and then put it all away neatly in bins to keep it safe from kittens and moths. Of course Hannah helped me with all of this; if you imagined Hannah racing through the house with a skein of alpaca yarn in her mouth you nailed it!! Then at the end of the clean-up the great “Where is Hannah?” search began…

Do you see her?
There she is! That quilted wall hanging was rolled up before Hannah found it…

Books

I just realized that the color is off on both of my pictures because my Kindle switches to the blue filter in the evenings to help me sleep. Hey, that really does work! If you don’t already know about this, try it out.

I have been reading the Cormoran Strike books by Robert Galbraith (J. K Rowling) since the series started, and I just love the complexity of the characters. In this book, Troubled Blood, Strike and his partner Robin are hired by the daughter of a long missing woman to discover what happened to her. It has always been supposed that she was the victim of a serial killer who was active at that time, but the daughter longs for a definitive conclusion, and Strike agrees to take the case. Over the slightly more than a year that Strike and Robin work this and other cases at the agency they also deal with their relationships with old lovers, family members, each other and ultimately, themselves. I have to be honest here… Strike and Robin are both damaged goods, but during this book they both confront some of their demons, move some things into the past, and begin to gain balance and perspective that makes me eager to get the next book in the series. Oh yeah, they also solve the case!

After polishing off Troubled Blood I blindly started The Last of the Moon Girls without any expectations because… I’m a little ashamed to admit this… it was also an audiobook and I needed something to listen to while knitting. To my surprise it is also a book about an old murder, also has a main character who was “different” from everyone else growing up, and who also has a very fraught relationship with a dysfunctional parent. Cormoran Strike Deja vu!! I’m enjoying this book as I listen to it, knitting away on my mystery presents, but I have to say that it isn’t as rich and complicated as Troubled Blood was. Actually, that is a good thing since it is an audiobook and I would have trouble following multiple investigations and a huge cast of characters in action; as it is this book is perfect for the task at hand as it has a straightforward storyline that keeps layering in additional characters and plot twists in an engaging manner without too many games. I kind of think I know who the killer was, but I’m not absolutely sure…

Must keep knitting and listening!!

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 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: 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 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 35

The days have finally cooled down here and the first leaves are changing color on my trees. The air quality is better as some rain showers in the evenings cleared the worst of the smoke from the air. The plants in the garden are recovering and so am I; the painful joints/muscles are now behaving themselves and I am getting good sleep again. I’m making more progress in cleaning my house (this week I got ride of fleeces that were at least 20 years old…) and am ready to return to a little quilting.

Hannah thinks that would be fun!

Knitting

I was really productive this week in the knitting department. I finished the Far Away Dreams shawl that I have been working on for a few weeks now.

This cushy shawl is just perfect for wrapping up in on cool evenings.

I especially like how the lace turned out.

Can you see in the picture above that the light outer trim on the right side of the shawl is just a tiny bit wider? I lost at yarn chicken and did the last row of the dark lace in the lighter color. I’m pretty sure no one will notice the difference while I’m wearing the shawl. 🙂 My Ravelry notes are here.

I like this shawl so much I already went digging into the yarn stash for more yarn to make another. This time I’m going to have a lighter outer border.

This will look more like the knitted sample shown in the Far Away Dreams pattern. I’m liking it!! The speckled white will be the lace border. I can’t wait to cast on!

I need another shawl to knit on because I’m racing right through The Sharon Show shawl. It is so much fun!! I can’t wait for the new clue to arrive on Friday and I usually have it done within a day or two. This week I focused on finishing the Far Away shawl and put off Sharon until the end of the week. I got Clue 3 done Thursday night and was just chomping to start Clue 4 as soon as it dropped. I’m now halfway through Clue 4. I won’t show the entire shawl because… MYSTERY… and I don’t want Sharon from Security to track me down with a citation (but I’m pretty sure that Hannah would be excited to have her come visit and maybe play chase-chase with her…) but here is a glimpse of my latest work.

How fun is this?!

I kind of want to cast on another one of these shawls, too, but I’m waiting to get to the end before I make the final color decisions.  I’m also fussing over yarns and color choices for another couple of sweaters these days (with lots of help from Hannah) and I’ve been reflecting on how robust my yarn stash is and how happy I am to be able to put together an endless number of projects using just stash yarn. Seriously, there is yarn in there that I’ve wondered, up until this summer, just what it could be used for that is now exactly the right amount and color for a new sweater pattern just dropped by a favorite designer. Good planning. Good luck. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

Garden

To you see this? The miniature roses are starting to bloom again. This year I plan to plant the roses into the garden to overwinter instead of bringing them indoors for the winter because, Hannah!

There are several new buds on the plant. Can you see them?

Books

I’m reading again now that my eyes have recovered. I’ve gone back to the 16th century for some murder mystery action.

It’s a murder mystery. 

Our hero is a lawyer named Matthew Shardlake who has undertaken an investigation in the service of the Lady Elizabeth who wants to ensure that justice is served in the murder trial of a distant Boleyn relative who is also embroiled in a land dispute with a neighbor. This story, written about a time centuries past, also echoes some themes current today. There is a lot of political uncertainty as the current king, Edward VI, is 11 years old and his uncle is ruling in his name. You get a sense that power is being abused; coinage is so debased it is almost worthless.  Landowners are turning out tenant farmers to enclose their land because sheep earn a better profit for them than crops. Displaced and homeless people wander the landscape in search of a living while the wealthy insist that their actions are necessary to maintain their way of life; the landless citizens are seen as dangerous and criminal by the more stable upper class and resentments are brewing.  The  shifts to the new religion and an English language mass continue and are also creating tensions. To be clear, this is a time of unrest and uncertainty that kind of rivals our own. In the middle of this a run-away wife is found murdered and  Matthew is dispatched to discover the truth. I’m about a third of the way through and I’m enjoying myself.

Have a great week, everyone!!

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