MacKenzie Speaks: Paper Roses Socks are Done!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat and socks.
We’ve been knitting in bed…

I’ve been helping the Mother of Cats for the entire week getting these socks done. It is a lot of hard work; the kinky yarn from the sock blanks is really hard to get a good chomp on! I’m sure she doesn’t appreciate all that I do. In this shot I was warming up her needles and the sock blank by napping on top of it. Isn’t that nice of me?! Why does she get so snippy with me?

These are the socks that she ripped out a few weeks ago and restarted using fluffy white yarn with rabbit fur in it. Wow. This stuff is really yummy! For some reason she is keeping it closed up in a plastic bag so I can’t play with it after I dragged it upstairs to play “roll the ball” under the dining table. Whatever. She is just horrible about sharing her toys!

Finished Socks
Here are the finished socks!! Aren’t they totally cool? Much nicer looking than the other attempt with the ugly brown lace yarn. I think that the sparkles are especially catchy.

I really like these socks, and they are just perfect for napping on whenever she leaves they out. So nice and toasty to sleep on. Just the right size to kick and bite when I’m feeling a little frisky. I think that she should keep the in the kitty toy box with my catnip-stuffed squirrel.

I’m such a good boy. She really should give me these socks.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

These socks are make with handpainted sock blanks by Greenwood Fiberworks. The minute I saw the blanks at a trunk show this fall I knew they had to be these socks. Even the name of the colorway was cool: Paper Roses. The sock pattern is Dave by Rachel Coopey, which is basically a nice vanilla sock. I made the version with afterthought heels to maintain the color sequence down the sock. The fluffy white yarn for the lace cuff is Knit Picks Bare Hare.

Heel on sock
Check out this heel! This is really nice fitting on my foot and feels great. I’d never done a heel like this, but I’m glad that I tried it.

I’m really happy with the cuff at the top. I made good notes of what I did and recorded them into the Ravelry project page, but I also got some nice pictures and am thinking of blogging the pattern later in the week.

Happy Halloween everyone!!

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MacKenzie Speaks: Feeling the Magic

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat face
I hope that you haven’t been missing me.

The Mother of Cats and I haven’t really been neglecting all of you. We’ve been very, very busy working on her Marled Magic Sweater. This thing is huge! And very squishy.

Cat kneading knitted item.
See what I mean: squishy!

Every part of this HUGE sweater has mohair stranded with it. The Mother of Cats says that is what makes it “marled”. Whatever. I’m just glad that she is paying attention to my needs.

Cat with knitting.
The best part of the sweater is a section that the Mother of Cats called “brioche” stitch.

The brioche stitch section has cashmere and mohair mixed in the yarn. So nice with my fur. I totally could get into a blanket for my cat bed made out of this stuff…

Close-up of the knitting
See. Here’s a close-up. Doesn’t that look like it would make a great cat bed blanket?

The Mother of Cats has been working steadily on this project, and we are making really good progress.  This afternoon she finished the 6th section of the sweater and took it out for a picture or two. She did not let me go outside with her because I jumped the fence again last week (Hey, there was an ENEMY CAT in my yard again!!) and I’m currently under house arrest. The Mother of Cats is so unstable… why does she overreact like this?

Progress on Project.
Look at this! This is the right side of the sweater (front and back) and the part with the vee shape is the center front. Wouldn’t you like to see what those stripes look like?
Center section stripes.
Here they are. The Mother of Cats used 2 yarns for each color in the stripes, so I had a total of 4 different yarns to chomp on while she was knitting. I had SO much fun! I wonder why the Mother of Cats get so snippy with me?

So that’s all that is going on here. The Mother of Cats and I have been knitting and knitting and knitting while she binge watches Netflix and I help her keep all of her little yarns organized. The sweater is already big enough to be a really nice blanket, but she says there is still a lot of knitting ahead of us. I’ve been such a good boy and so much help she brought me home a present yesterday!

Cat and knitted cat.
Her best friend and knitting buddy Deb made this little friend for me!

It’s a little knitted cat that looks just like me! The Mother of Cats says it is for her birthday, but I know that it was really for me. This afternoon it slept with me in my cat bed. So nice and cuddly! I think that the next one should be stuffed with catnip.

Well, that’s it. The Mother of Cats found some nice purple yarn and a grey mohair to use in the next section of the sweater. She is champing at the bit and can’t wait to start knitting the next section.

Back to the knitting salt mines!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • I actually made an Excel spreadsheet to figure out the colors that I’m using as I make the sweater as I wanted to balance things out and needed to plan ahead.  I’m not out of control at all!
  • I’m struggling with the Ravelry project page: so many yarns to record! I finally started listing the yarns for each section in the notes section, and I need to update the list of yarns that I’m using. I plan to do that when I finally get done.
  • It is clear that this sweater will be large; I can’t wait to be folded in its cushy yumminess this winter.
  • My friend Deb is developing the patterns for the floppies that she creates for her daughter and others. She has made a bunny, panda, and now my cat. I’ll alert you all as soon as her patterns go up on Ravelry.
  • Knitted cat
    Isn’t this the cutest? He sits up really well and is the most perfect floppy cat ever!!

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

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the best places to sleep ARE in the house.

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

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

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

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

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

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

Snapshots from the Garden

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

Cat in the Closet
Is it over yet?

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

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

Squirrel

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

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

Knitting time!

 

 

The Scleroderma Chronicles: Days of Wonder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wonder what will happen tomorrow?

MacKenzie Speaks: Meet the Danzig Shawl

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

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

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

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

 

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

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

Shawl

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

MacKenzie Speaks: Summer is here!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

I couldn’t wait for summer to get here. Bugs, garter snakes, mornings in the swinging lawn chair, lots of late afternoons in the garden…

Hot cat
Ugh… why is it so hot?

How am I supposed to chase bugs? This is all Yellow Boy’s fault, I’m just sure of it. The Mother of Cats says that this is record-breaking heat, whatever that means. I just want it to cool off enough to whap a couple of grasshoppers. Is that too much to ask?

Cat
Why do I get blamed for EVERYTHING?

Anyway, happy summer everyone. The Mother of Cats and I will be spending as much time as we can taking it easy in the swinging lawn chair…

Cat and owner in lawn chair
Aren’t I handsome?

…and when I’m not patrolling to ensure Enemy Cat isn’t in the yard I’ll be on the lookout for moths and hopping things. Hey, summer is for cats!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats: yesterday we set a new heat record in Denver, Colorado, and today we missed the record by a single degree; it is so bad I have to carry the cats in as they refuse to cross the hot deck. We are all outside in the mornings while I drink my latte, water the plants and do a little knitting, then it is inside for weaving, knitting, and cat naps.

Rose
Luckily the roses are loving the heat, and the tomatoes are growing like weeds.

Happy summer everyone.