MacKenzie Speaks: A Sleeve and a Sock

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

To you see how hard I am working?

I have been really helping the Mother of Cats with her knitting this week. Look at how carefully I am inspecting this sock that she is working on. We have been listening to an audiobook every evening while she stitches away on the sock, with lots of breaks to give me attention, of course. I think that she would get bored and fall asleep if I didn’t keep standing on her and head butting her work. It is a hard job, but someone needs to do it.

See how much progress she has made? This is what you get when you have an attention-to-detail cat helping you out.

The Mother of Cats is calling this another Mash-Up sock that combines elements of three other socks that she has made in the past. Whatever. Like I would remember details like that?! What I do remember is that I sent her to the store to buy me tuna flavored cookies and she came back with some kind of substandard chicken flavored ones. This is just typical of the Mother of Cats. So thoughtless. I don’t know why I exhaust myself helping her when she doesn’t treat me the way she should…

Especially when I helped her knit this sleeve this week too!!

I can’t believe how exhausting all this knitting supervision has been. Luckily the sweater is now so big the Mother of Cats can’t keep me off of it any longer. Which is pretty nice since I need a nice place to nap after all of this work.

The Mother of Cats needs to share her things more often!!

Last night the Mother of Cats started ANOTHER SWEATER before she was done with this one. Something about the second sleeve syndrome… Whatever. I think that she just wanted to let me nap a little longer. I deserve it after all. Maybe the Mother of Cats does think a little about my needs after all.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The sweater is a Koivua by Caitlin Hunter. My project notes are here. I made modifications to the sleeve to make it less bell shaped at the bottom and am pretty happy with how it came out. I put the details into my project notes if you want to see what I did.
  • Oh, yeah. That sock is a total mashup masterpiece. The top is the edging from the Geology socks. The ribbing is kind of an Emily’s Favorite socks deal, and the garter stitch heel and toe are inspired by the Om Shanti Bed Socks.
  • Yep. I did cast on another sweater last night. I also had to made a new set of stitch markers to use with it because a) they had to all be different from each other, and, b) they had to coordinate with the sweater.  What?! Doesn’t everyone do this? There’s no problem here, people. There is, however, another post brewing…
  • The book that MacKenzie and I are listening to is A Better Man by Louise Penny. I love these books!!

Have a great (knitting) weekend, everyone!

It’s the Little (Mash-up Knitting) Things…

My hip is in full rebellion these days and I am spending a lot of time off my feet trying heal up. For reasons beyond my understanding MacKenzie views this as an invitation to make constant demands: Pet me! Feed me!! More cookies! Let me go outside!! I must be on your lap!! You exist to serve me!!!!!

He stands next to me as I knit crying sadly, trying to move onto my lap and into the yarn and knitting. It is sad. So sad. Right up to the point when the yarn chomping starts and the claws start flashing. Sigh.

There is nothing for it but to put the knitting aside, gather the cat up onto my lap and deliver unto him all the hugs and attention that he is craving. Then some cookies!

Caught between a ill behaved hip and a demanding cat I have abandoned the sweater that I’ve been working on and switched to small projects that are easy to move away from chomping teeth and flashing claws. Projects that can be worked on in bed, outside in the garden swing, and downstairs by the television. Projects that can be easily moved to safety or stuffed into a project bag.

Ta-daa! I finished these cashmere blend yummy socks to wear while lounging around and in bed. These socks are knit a little loosely and sport garter stitch heels and toes, so they aren’t suitable for daily wear, but they sure are perfect for my cold feet while babying my ill behaved hip, and were easy to complete while evading a cat.
The socks were knit from the toe up and have cleverly shaped garter stitch heels and toes. I added the garter band to the top of the sock before putting on a K1P1 ribbing at the top.  Please ignore the little gap there in the ribbing… I took the picture before the final finishing as I was losing the light. Here are my Ravelry notes. The sock pattern is Om Shanti Bed Socks by Alice Yu and the yarn is Serenity 20 from Zen Yarn Garden in the colorway “Burning Bush.”
my Washing Stones socks.

Do you remember the light blue ribbed socks that I made a couple of weeks ago? They were just simply ribbed socks based on my rote 64 stitch vanilla sock that is basically the Dave sock by Rachel Coopey with a different rib that I liked when I knitted the No. 5 Union Street socks and then saw again in the Emily’s Favorite Socks pattern in the book “Knits About Winter.” Hey, when you are immobilized by a cranky hip and hounded by a demanding cat, you start to just invent new combinations of socks, right? In this circumstance it is just frankly impossible to have any charts or patterns involved in the knitting, so it is “have some fun” time.  Anyway, there was some yarn left over from the socks, so I kept knitting…

And these simple wristers (short arm warmers)  just fell off my needles.

To make the wristers I just kept expanding on my theme of stealing design ideas from other projects and smashing them together to make something that works for me.  I had made some Geology Socks recently, and the top edging was a nice use of the feather and fan pattern, so I re-used it for the top of these warmers. Then I knitted the body of the wrister using the K3P1 ribbing and finished off with an I-cord BO.

I kind of like to wear these with the I-cord edging down by my hand.
But I think that they look pretty good with the lace at the wrist also.

These wristers will work well this winter under sweaters and over long sleeved shirts in my usual struggle to keep my fingers warm, but I’m wearing them alone right now whenever I get exposed to air conditioning. Pleased with my sock pattern inventiveness I cast on another sock last night…

There is that lacy edging again!

This is another mash-up of ideas and patterns that grew from my earlier projects. This yarn, Fancy Monkey sock, is another cashmere blend for my cold feet. The edging is the same one used for the wristers, but I’m making K3P1  ribbed socks again once I’m past the edging. I’m debating putting on garter stitch heels and toes like the Om Shanti socks. It will be fun! It’s a knitting adventure, I tell MacKenzie.

Who has been watching me steadily from the foot of the bed, waiting for an opening to move onto my lap, computer or no computer. He resents the computer even more then the knitting. Let’s not even start talk about books and reading…

Isn’t it cute that MacKenzie still likes his mouse? The tail has been chomped off at this point, but he still likes to bat it around.

Hopefully my hip will start behaving better in a few days, MacKenzie will become less needy, and I will be able to get back to the Kouvia sweater. I’m getting adventurous with that project, too. I can’t wait to blog about the sweater, and I’m working myself up to a couple of hip/scleroderma posts as I’ve been racking up adventures in that part of my life also.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

MacKenzie Speaks: She’s Casting On Again!!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

The Mother of Knits and I have been working really hard lately and we have been making progress on her projects.

She whipped up a simple pair of socks with this yarn that she really likes: Concrete Sunset sock yarn dyed by Western Sky Knits. Her project notes are here.
I’ve been closely supervising her work on the Koivua sweater all week. This is starting to look pretty good, huh. Will the Mother of Cats let me sleep on this stunning and fluffy new cat bed? No. She will not. I keep trying to explain it to her, but she is so self absorbed! Always, it is about her needs and she never leaves it out for me to nap on.

This week the Mother of Cats realized that she had NOTHING to knit in bed while listening to audiobooks. There was a panicky search of the yarn stash (woohoo! I love helping the Mother of Cats in the stash room!) and a search for patterns on the computer and in her pattern notebooks. I helped her look for patterns by plopping my body down on all of the ones that I thought looked good. Why does the Mother of Cats get so emotional while I’m helping her? I only scratched her a little bit while scrabbling through the papers…  Anyway,  after finding the yarns and patterns we were ready to wind the yarn and get going on casting on lots of new knitting fun. I love winding yarn!!! The Mother of Cats needs to do things like this that I like more often. She can be so boring sometimes…

We picked these two yarns to make a Mount Moran Lace Cowl. I can’t wait to make this!
The Mother of Cats’ feet get cold all the time now. We decided that this yarn would be perfect to make her some yummy cashmere bed socks. Oh. Now that I look at this again it would also be good to make another Mount Moran Lace Cowl. Hmmm… maybe we need to go look through the stash for some more yarn for socks. Woohoo! More play time!!
The Mother of Cats and I decided to make another Suburban Wrap by Joji Locatelli with this yarn. I can’t wait to get started on this one!
But the project that got started right away was another simple pair of socks that can be knitted while listening to audiobooks in bed in the evenings. I always sleep on the Mother of Cats legs and help her keep track of her rows while she works. It is my favorite time of the day/night.

Do you notice that any of these projects are for me? No, you DO NOT!! Not one of these projects is for me after all that work I did to help her find patterns and yarn. There is no mouse here! Where is the new cat bed or kitty blanket? Why is the Mother of Cats so very, very selfish!!

Okay, I’m calm again. I do love knitting with the Mother of Cats. Okay, it isn’t as good as going outside to play in the yard, but she does remember to pay attention to me in the evenings. I get my favorite cat food for dinner, she pets me while we knit, I usually get to chomp yarn, Little Miss Pitty Pat comes out to play and eat her dinner, and I get to sleep on the down comforter on the bed. Life is okay with the Mother of Cats.

Why does she do these HORRIBLE THINGS to me?

That’s right. Today she crammed me into the pet carrier and took me to the vet’s office for SHOTS!!! The horror. The betrayal. There were dogs there!!!! Why does the Mother of Cats do these things to me? She did give me some kitty cookies when I got back, but it was just AWFUL!!!

I have been sleeping since getting back from the horrible adventure this afternoon, but I’m going to get up in a few minutes to demand that I have another yummy serving of cat food and then a trip outside to play with the bugs and squirrels. She owes me! Then it will be knitting time and I’ll be chomping yarn overtime because… she owes me!!

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats: I’ve got nothing, MacKenzie said it all! Let’s hope he stays sleepy from his vaccinations so I can cast on a couple of new projects this evening because this yarn is too stupendous to ignore. 🙂

MacKenzie Speaks: Snapshots From My Garden

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

The catmint is re-growing after taking a beating in the July heat. Perfect for a little cat nap! This is one of my favorite spots in the garden.

August is here and the days have settled into a nice little pattern. Mornings in the garden with the Mother of Cats. Afternoons inside with little Miss Pitty Pat. Evenings knitting and knitting and knitting. It’s hard to say what my favorite time of day is, but today I want to show you what has been going on outside in my garden.

There is a bunny hanging out in the front yard! It ate some of the Mother of Cats flowers, but she still won’t let me out to show it what’s what. Why is she so mean to me? I’m just positive that she doesn’t love me at all!
Luckily the bunny can’t get into the back yard to eat the flowers growing in my garden.
There are a lot of young squirrels racing along the fence and fighting in the trees in the back yard, and some of them are getting a little too pushy about my outdoor water dish. I told this squirrel to STAY OUT OF MY YARD but he didn’t listen to me. Bad squirrel.
I spend a lot of time hanging around next to the water dish waiting for squirrels, but I still haven’t caught one. Hey, they are pretty fast!
The wasp nest is still growing. Where do all of these wasps come from? These guys make me nervous and I stay away from them.

Yesterday while we were outside a dragonfly landed on the Mother of Cats’ book. Wow! She was as stealthy as a cat a she tried to ease her camera out to take a picture of him; I was almost impressed by her skill. Nope! Even I can’t catch a dragonfly, Mother of Cats. What made you think that you could do it? You don’t even have claws, and your reflexes are really inferior…

In the afternoons I hang out with Miss Pitty Pat. She is kind of my best friend these days. Last night she broke her hamster wheel, so the Mother of Cat is heading out this afternoon to get her more toys. I can’t wait to see what she gets us.

Well, it is getting close to the evening so the Mother of Cats will be knitting soon. Woohoo! Yarn chomping time!

I’m such  good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

    • The cottontail bunny has been in my yard for weeks now. She sleeps in the grass, explores the flowerbed, and somehow has avoided the cats who roam my neighborhood unsupervised. Very sweet, and evocative of the days when I used a photo of a bunny like this to anchor my online biology course.
    • Sadly, the wasps began to chase MacKenzie and me, so I finally sprayed the nest with insecticide this week. Intrepid wasps, they have started a new nest in a safer location.
    • There are many dragonflies in the yard now, and the butterfly bush is heavy with blooms waiting to open. Yay! I’m looking forward to more airborne visitors that won’t threaten to sting me.

MacKenzie Speaks: We finished the WTF?! Shawl!!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

The Mother of Cats and I have been hard at work this week trying to get her new shawl done.
I’ve been doing quality control as much as possible…
which is just exhausting so I have to admit that there have been some naps. Just a couple. Okay, it has been hot, so I spend most of my day napping. But I carefully check the Mother of Cats’ work every time I wake up to make sure she hasn’t slipped any stitches. There may be also s0me requests for cookies while I’m up. What? I’m working hard, and I need COOKIES!!

Yesterday the Mother of Cats finally finished the bind off of the shawl (an I-cord bind off that made her grumpy because it took so long) and we took it outside to get some pictures. By the time we got out there it was getting ready to rain, so we had to work fast. I don’t like rain. If you had fur like mine you wouldn’t like rain either!

Do you see that she hasn’t even woven in the ends yet? The Mother of Cats can be so lazy. She also needs to steam block the shawl so that the edges are smooth. Still, it is really nice and cushy for kitties to lie on.
I, MacKenzie the Magnificent, claim this shawl for my very own!!

The Mother of Cats likes to take pictures of shawl hanging on the fence, but we were running the sprinkler while this picture was being taken, so that will have to wait for another day. Still, can you see how nicely these colors show off my fur? Obviously, this shawl needs to become my new blankie! The Mother of Cats would give it to me if she loved me, right?

I’m such a good boy. She never could have made this shawl without me!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This shawl is the What the Fade?! shawl by Andrea Mowry. I was having some trouble getting Ravelry to update my project page this afternoon, but if you want to peak at the yarn that I got into the data base my project notes are here.
  • I cut MacKenzie’s claws right before this photoshoot… no shawls were harmed by cats in the production of this blog post!
  • The upper portion of the shawl is brioche (slow, but so squishy and rewarding) and the lower portion is garter, garter, garter. All of the border, CO and BO are I-cord, and that stabilizes the shape of the shawl and keeps the squishness under control.
  • MacKenzie will not be getting this shawl for his bed!!

MacKenzie Speaks: Endless Fade…

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Do you see how hot I am? I collapsed on the Mother of Cats’ knitting as it was too hard to even yarn chomp…

Yesterday while the Mother of Cats was driving around in the car (she went to the yarn store… she tried to sneak in some yarn, but I saw her and I’m absolutely certain that she has SLIPPED again…) she glanced at the dash and noticed that it was 101° F outside. I believe it. It is so hot I can’t go outside without burning my paws, and I barely have enough energy to put a claw into the Mother of Cats knitting. Barely. It is so much effort, but when you are a cat of superior personality and strength of will, you persevere and grab yarn anyway. It shows character in the face of adversity…

The Mother of Cats CUT MY CLAWS again!!!

I don’t know why she hates me so much. I’m just trying to do my part in this endless fade project that just keeps going and going and going… Seriously, I don’t know when this project is going to get done. It just keeps getting bigger and hotter and the Mother of Cats whaps me with it every time she turns it. It would be different if she would let me sleep on it, but nope. The Mother of Cats never lets me have fun!!

But we are making some progress with all of that knitting and whapping. Look at where we are!
Brioche section of What the Fade?! shawl.
We have completed the endless sea of brioche stitch that we did for the first couple of weeks of knitting. 
Now we are working our way through the endless garter stich section at the bottom of the shawl. Today we finally got started on one of the lighter colors of yarn.

The Mother of Cats and I do go out into the garden in the evenings so she can water and I can look for bugs and squirrels. It is so hot outside that even the bugs are hiding.

So I just hang out in my favorite cool spots in the garden after she waters.
The lavender is now blooming in the yarrow garden so that is my favorite spot right now. Do you see any bees buzzing around? No, you don’t! Even the bees have gone home in this heat!
Ha. Now that my claws are cut the Mother of Cats is letting me sleep on the end of the shawl while she works. Maybe she does care about me a little. 

Since we are hanging out in the house during the afternoons I think that the Mother of Cats and I may get the shawl done in the next week or so. I can’t wait to show it off. The Mother of Cats could never get things like this done without my help.

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

The shawl is What the Fade by Andrea Mowry. My project notes are here.

Yarns for shawl.
Here are the yarns. 

This shawl uses 6 skeins of yarn, which explains why I am still knitting and knitting on it. This morning I started the 4th color used at the bottom of the shawl, so the end is now in sight. Yay! This weekend the heat should break, the afternoon storms will return, and my Fade will be finally finished. Stay tuned for the final update!

The Scleroderma Chronicles: Safe House

You know, I kind of view myself as a happy camper. I have more things (ahem… knitting projects) going then I can get finished on any given day or week, books lined up to read, and a “to-do” list that I’m slowly working my way through. Hey, people, I fixed the loose tiles on my kitchen floor last week!! My cat MacKenzie is my constant sidekick throughout the day as I knit, work in the garden, read in bed, and even with me (underfoot, demanding cookies) while I’m cooking. Even on the bad days when I’m pretty much down for the count, I manage small victories. There is just one problem with this picture.

Look at these beautiful coneflowers I just added to the garden. I’m hoping to lure some butterflies into the yard. Every garden should have butterflies, don’t you think?

I just don’t fit in the world all that well anymore. In my home, living the life that I’ve created for myself, it is really easy to forget how much I have adapted to accommodate the limitations of my scleroderma, Sjogren’s, and fibromyalgia. Once I go anywhere else reality hits me hard. Every trip out of my house is going to come at a cost. Here are the worst of the offenders that will lay me low.

Air Conditioning I know that almost everyone in the world is grateful for air conditioning in the summertime, but for me it is a royal nightmare. The shock of walking into a refrigerated building on a hot summer day will trigger an immediate Raynaud’s attack. I pull on long sleeves and fingerless mitts as soon as I get into the building, but my lungs know what’s up and I have trouble breathing. The airflow makes my eyes burn; I’ve been reduced to wearing my sunglasses indoors to protect my eyes. Don’t even get me started on the refrigerated cases churning out cold air; you haven’t lived until you’ve had to pull up the hood of your sweatshirt and the sleeves down over your hands so you can score some butter and eggs.  If that wasn’t enough, there are also usually…

Scented Products Almost all buildings use scented cleaning products and sells additional items with scents. Candles. Lotions. Laundry soap. The scented bathrooms are a nightmare. If I’m not already in trouble with my breathing I will be if I have to walk down the laundry detergent aisle at the grocery store: I also start to itch and my face swells. Why do these chemicals even exist? They can’t be good for anyone!

Restaurants These are a special kind of hell for me. All the drinks come cold and with ice, and the entrees are served piping hot. There are other landmines that I need to avoid: salt, lactose, fiber.  I have to carefully select something that is very soft and that will behave itself in my gastroparesis stomach. I can’t have spicy food. I can’t eat fresh veggies. Actually, to be safe, some of this food should go through a blender… I actually once soaked a cut up sandwich in soup so I could eat it…

Walking I am trying really hard to meet my walking goals every day, but I stretch those steps out over the day. A trip to run errands can be just exhausting if I’m on my feet for a couple of hours at a time. I need to always carry water, be aware of the location of bathrooms, and have places where I can sit down if I need to.

Sunshine It makes me sick! Enough said.

Ready for another picture? These paper wasps are building a nest right on the edge of my deck! MacKenzie and I are not amused. Still, it kind of shows how the outside world is full of dangers…

Recently I had a tough talk with myself about pruning down my outings and being more strategic about how I expend my energy. I need fewer outings, and my destinations need to be closer to home. I need to live online. I need to in a safe environment as much as I can to manage my diseases.

My home is my safe house. I have no air conditioning and I minimize air flow. I keep the temperature in the mid 70’s in the day so that my joints and lungs will be happy. I cook all of my own food, I don’t own any salt at all, and everything that I drink is room temperature. Fruits and veggies go through the blender to become smoothies. Every product that comes into the house is scent free. I’m always close to a bathroom or a soft surface to crash onto for a quick recovery if I get dizzy. My stairs have wrought iron rails that I use effectively on bad joint days. Flourishing in my safe house I sometimes forget how sick I am because, well, I have fewer problems.

I planted this yarrow last year in a flowerbed that has killed almost everything planted into it. Not this yarrow!! The secret of gardening, and living with serious chronic illness, is to keep on trying new things, and to match your needs to your environment. Or, in my case, make your environment match your needs.

Tomorrow I have a doctor’s appointment so I listed up some symptoms and issues that I need to ask her about. It is quite a list now that I look at it, and it kind of underscores how chronic illness can trick you into thinking that things that would normally send you screaming into urgent care are “just another day of scleroderma.” Shortness of breath is an almost daily thing. When I glance into the mirror these days I sometimes notice that my face is blue. One hip keeps failing me; okay, I actually have to lift that leg to get into the car. My joints swell so much that I can’t sleep at night.

But I am good, here in my little safe house with my gardens and cat.

Tomorrow my doctor and I will attack some of these scleroderma/Sjogren’s issues. I kind of think that lung testing and a MRI of my hip are in the future, and that there may be follow-up with my pulmonologist. I’ve been gathering up my energy in preparation for these outings into a world that is dangerous for me, knowing that after each outing my garden swing, knitting and latest book will be waiting for me. With a room temperature ice tea.

And a cat!

It is good to have a safe house.