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 weeks.

Happy summer everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MacKenzie Speaks: Rolling in the Warp!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

MacKenzie
The weather has been really nice this week and the Mother of Cats and I have been spending mornings out in the yard before the thunderstorms come in the afternoon.

This week the Mother of Cats put all of her knitting away so she could start working on a NEW CAT TOY for me and Yellow Boy. Actually, Yellow Boy is afraid of it, so this new cat toy is all for me.

Warp on loom.
Look at this! Isn’t that the best thing you’ve ever seen? She spent a whole day putting these little yarns (she calls them warp… whatever…) over this board so that I could roll in the pile on the floor. I can’t believe that she cares this much…
Cat attacking warp.
She even put a chair in front of the yarns so that I could easily whap them with my paw!
Cat
What? Whatever are you talking about? I’m not hurting these at all. I’m always careful with my toys…
Cat
OK, you don’t have to make a big deal about it…. 
Cat
The Mother of Cats can be so emotional. I’ve talked about this before, but I do feel that it is a flaw in her character. I was just looking…
Warp on loom.
… and she tied all of my yarns up into little bows so I couldn’t play with them any more. I never realized that the Mother of Cats could behave in such a petty manner!
Woven fabric on the loom.
Now she is completely ignoring me and playing with the yarns all by herself. Hey, this was MY TOY!!! First an Enemy Cat moves into my yard, and now this! She even keeps sitting in my chair. I really don’t understand how she can behave this way. If there wasn’t a thunderstorm outside I would go away and just ignore her. Bad Mother of Cats!

In the late afternoons after the thunder stops the Mother of Cats and I get to go outside to water and chase bugs. Maybe she isn’t so bad after all, even though she seems to have a problem sharing her toys.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats: I received a commission to make these cotton dish towels a few weeks ago, so after I finished up with the major yard work I pulled out the loom and got her dressed again. Gosh, I have missed weaving. Anyone want a dish towel? Is it too soon to put on a Christmas colored warp?

Knit on, my friends, unless of course you are weaving this week. 🙂

MacKenzie Speaks: a little this, a little that…

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Handsome Cat
Have you been missing me?

The Mother of Cats and I have been very busy. May is always one of our favorite months as we can finally move back out into the yard to begin summer living in earnest. Here’s a little update on all that we have been up to:

Flowers
The Mother of Cats cleaned the garage and then went out and bought all of these flowers for Yellow Boy and me…
Roses and flowers
but then she put them all into the front yard! I’m not allowed in the front yard. These are at the front window
Flowers
…and these wax begonias and the alyssum are along the front walk. I love laying down in alyssum; don’t you? Why doesn’t she let me out front!! I think that it is high time that I threw a cat tantrum. She just doesn’t know how lucky she is!! Lots of people would just kill to have an alyssum-loving cat like me!
Cat and toys
Or I could just sadly dig around in my toy basket. Sniff. I’m not sure she loves me…
Necklace
As soon as she got those flower into the ground it rained. Serves her right!! We stayed inside and made this little cat toy necklace together out of some stitch markers she made last week. See all of my cat fur in the picture? Funny, she didn’t add it to my basket the way I thought she would…
Bricked Garden
After days of rain it was time to move into the back. Do you remember Darwin’s Garden and the evil purple spiky flower? The plant that took over the garden and killed all of the other plants? I totally thought that old purple had won the fight, but look at what the Mother of Cats did to it… she dropped almost 800 pounds of brick on top of the plant, covering the whole garden, and then moved our garden swing on top. Hey. This is nicer anyway because now we’re in the shade!
Cat in swinging chair
Ha ha, purple plant! We win!
Rose Cuttings
She even took some cuttings from the Darwin rose before she dropped the bricks. They are going to a new Darwin’s Garden.
Cat
While we were out moving bricks (hey, I wanted to help. Why does she get upset when I’m in her way?) the cat next door came to visit. I don’t like him. I call him Enemy Cat. The Mother of Cats calls him Dobby after some Harry Potter character. Whatever.
Cat
I still keep my eye on him when he visits. He lives with the dogs next door, and if I get too close to him they bark. Hey. They have some nerve. This is MY YARD!!
Weeds
The Mother of Cats finally poked him with the hose and chased him of. I like her style! We moved on to weed another flower bed. This garden has 5 rose bushes in it. Can you see them?
Flowers
Oh, there they are!
Cat
There’s more gardens to weed, but the Mother of Cats has to buy more soil and flowers… That means we get to hang out in the swinging chair. That’s better anyway, because that way she spends more attention to me. Except when she tries to knit out here. I put a stop to that right away. Outside is for cats!!!

Next week we are going to put up the loom and start weaving. Woohoo!! You haven’t lived until you have put a warp on a loom with the Mother of Cats! This is more fun than a Christmas tree. Yarn chomping is tame compared with the fun of rolling in the warp!

Stay tuned. Next week should be a big one.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats: I also finished up every single WIP last month and completed the latest round of doctor visits and testing, but those will be new posts. I’m still trying to catch MacKenzie sleeping in the empty WIP basket. Every time I get up to get the camera he thinks I’m handing out cookies and comes running… rotten spoiled cat…

MacKenzie Speaks: The End of Fades

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat  with knitting
I’ve been helping the Mother of Cats knit this shawl for ages…

The Mother of Cats was sucked into the “Find Your Fade” vortex weeks and weeks ago. Yellow Boy and I did everything that we could to save her, but it was hopeless. She has been neglecting us for forever while this has been going on. It has been awful! So far she has knitted up THREE of these shawls.

Cat sleeping on knitting
Do you see how stressed I am?

Finally, finally she finished up all of her silly knitting and took the shawl outside to grab some pictures yesterday.

Shaawl
Not bad for a human, right? I think that she picked some nice colors for this one.
Shawl
I know that humans can get distracted by my wonderfulness… so here’s another picture that she took (ahem) WITHOUT ME!! I don’t think that I get the respect that I deserve. Anyway, here is the shawl. I just can’t understand why she pushed me out of the picture,
Cat on shawl
…so as soon as she put it down to take some other pictures I moved right in for a little nap. Wow. This is sure nice and squishy. Don’t you think that these are nice colors with my fur? These fade shawls are really nice and big, just right for my cat bed, but they take up ALL the room on her lap while she is knitting them. Seriously, all of this Fade knitting has Yellow Boy and me a little concerned. It is time for some little projects again.

You can imagine our relief when the Mother of Cats told us that she is done knitting Fade shawls for now. Finally!! We have made it to the end of the Fades tunnel. She got out her basket of unloved and abandoned old knitting projects (she calls them WIPs; Yellow Boy thought that she was talking about a new kind of kitty treat and came running. Boy, was he disappointed!) and told us that she would be finishing some of these up before she starts a new project. Right. We’ve heard that before.

Basket
This is her basket of little projects that need finishing. She keeps it up high on top of the bookcase so I can’t sleep in it. Why does she do things like that? Doesn’t she love me?
Snow on flowers
Look at what happened overnight!

Today there is too much snow on the ground for us to go outside so we are hanging out inside again. The Mother of Cats is knitting on a pair of socks from her basket and Yellow Boy and I are playing on our new cat tree.

Cat Tree
Look at this!

About time we got a new cat scratching post!! I’ve been forced to use the knitting chair for weeks, and the Mother of Cats just gets upset every time I put a claw on it. She is so emotional. I’m glad that she finally understood that she needs to focus more on my needs.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This is the third Find You Fade shawl that I’ve knit. The project notes for this one are located here on Ravelry.
  • My first Fade was done in fall colors. You can find it here.
  • The second Fade, one that would look nice with denim, was finished last month. Its Ravelry notes are here.
  • I am now finishing a pair of socks I started months ago. I am going to work through the WIP basket for sure. Really. I’m totally going to be able to ignore that shawl yarn that I kitted up this week with its pattern… I am strong!
  • Should I show off all three shawls together in a post?
  • I also did some beading this week. Wait until I show you my BKB’s bead stash!! (BKB = Best Knitting Buddy)

April Updates: Sjogren’s Syndrome and ANOTHER Fade

Hi. If you’ve been following my blog for very long you already know that I am an out-of-control knitter owned by a self-absorbed and bossy cat named MacKenzie. You have probably detected that I am a science-oriented geek, an obsessive reader, and a casual gardener who loves her roses. You may have also realized that I have some serious and chronic health problems that I am trying to keep from taking over my life. I’ve been pretty up-front about the more serious of my autoimmune duo, systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), but I hardly ever mention the lesser of the two, Sjogren’s Syndrome. After all, since the diagnosis came in, all of my doctors (I have a six-pack of docs…) tend to focus on the scleroderma, so I almost forget that I also have Sjogren’s.

Except for this: of the two autoimmune conditions, it is the Sjogren’s that has pretty much taken over my life in spite of my efforts to keep control. Since April is Sjogren’s Awareness Month, I decided that I would share with all of you some information about this disease and how it has impacted me.

But first, the Fade!! I’m cranking out another Find Your Fade shawl that I hope to get done before the end of the month. Look at these colors! Look at how great this shawl is going to be! Color me happy! My Ravelry project notes are here.

Shawl
I’ve just started the 4th color and I can’t stop knitting because of the happy turquoise color. Must keep knitting. The 5th color will be even more wild!
Yarns for a shawl
See what I’m talking about? The color sequence for the shawl moves from right to left in the picture, and the next color will be that Hedgehog Fibres yarn. Then there will be that electric violet. Woohoo!

The weather has been nice this week so the cats have moved outside to bug hunt and I have moved into major knitting and house cleaning mode. OK, there has been more knitting. It’s important to have priorities…

Back to the Sjogren’s Syndrome. I know that you are just dying to know more about this little know and hard to spell disease. Sjogren’s isn’t as rare a disease as my bad-boy scleroderma (about 4 million Americans have it), and it isn’t usually life-threatening, but it is still serious and exceptionally life altering. Check out this symptom chart. This is one crazy-ass autoimmune disease; basically my immune system is attacking all of my moisture producing cells. That doesn’t sound all that bad, does it? As it turns out, the impact of this damage affects an awful lot of my body’s ability to function properly, and for this reason Sjogren’s is considered to be a systemic condition. Its most obvious feature is extreme dryness. Let’s take a little walk around my house as I explain this to you.

Lotions
Even I was shocked to realize how many types of lotion I have on my bedside table. There are 11 types of lotion here, and another couple of lotion bars in the drawer. I also have lubricant eye drops that I put in at least twice a day. I absolutely have to stay up on the eye drops every day or I develop cloudy vision. See, dryness. Dry skin, dry eyes. 
Bathroom
Dry mouth too. I never knew this before, but your saliva is necessary to fight bacteria in the mouth; without it things get out of control quickly.  I was producing no saliva when first diagnosed and I did have lots of dental issues. Things are better now, but I have to be very careful to keep my teeth as clean as possible, and I use the rinse nightly to help protect my teeth.
Sunglasses
The struggle to protect my eyes and skin continues every time I leave the house. I need lip balm and sunscreen before I go out, and sunglasses are a must since my eyes are really sensitive to sunlight. Because my mouth is so dry I don’t move anywhere without some type of fluid to drink. It’s such an issue for me I usually keep a case of ice tea in the car so I won’t ever run out. See the cute fingerless mitts? Sjogren’s causes Raynaud’s  (which I have) so I need to keep my hands and fingers warm at all times. If you think I’m crazy about managing fluids you should see how many pairs of fingerless mitts and gloves are riding around with me in the car with that case of ice tea…
Steamer with hot pack
Combating dryness makes sense, but there are lots of other annoying symptoms that I’m dealing with too. My joints and muscles hurt all of the time. I start every morning with chemical hot packs on my knees and leg muscles. I recharge them in this steamer each evening so that I’ll be ready to use them as soon as I wake up. This is my routine: make a morning latte, and then go back to bed with the hot packs and coffee.  Usually there is a cat added. Cats love hot packs!
Inhaler
My Sjogren’s antibodies also cause small airway disease (asthma). I notice blue lips quite often these days, and I have to monitor my blood oxygen levels and use the inhaler if my levels get too low; I’m trying hard to stay off oxygen. Darn. Just another couple of items I need to fit into my knitting bag.
Blender
and then there are my gastrointestinal issues. I developed gastroparesis this fall and now I am rocking a low fiber diet of easily digested foods. Check out my lunch. 

Now for the things that I couldn’t take picture of: fatigue, neuropathy, and concentration/memory problems. The fatigue that comes with Sjogren’s is not the usual “feeling tired” stuff. This is true crushing fatigue that makes me feel buzzy, numb and like I’m walking through concrete. The neuropathy means that I have feet/hands that are always falling asleep; more trouble walking. Then there is the memory stuff. When I’m in a flare all kind of crazy things can happen. I got lost on the freeway once; now I always use the GPS to give me driving directions. I have gone out to run an errand and then couldn’t remember where I was going. I have big problems with vocabulary recall, and I forget things like my phone number at the most embarrassing moments. I lose my ability to read because I can’t concentrate…

Good grief, I pretty much have my life arranged around my Sjogren’s needs. I thought that MacKenzie was running the show around here, but it looks like he needs to take a back seat to Sjogren’s.

Cat
MacKenzie: Not happening. I am the man!!

Which brings me to the good things for which I am grateful. Most people with scleroderma/Sjogren’s struggle with anxiety and/or depression. I do not. I think that I am so very lucky in my wonderful, supportive friends and my son. I am lucky to have good neighbors, health insurance, and a pension that meets all my needs. I am lucky to have cats that pile on and purr through all the sad times. I am lucky to have the immensely meditative and calming art of knitting to carry me through each and every flare of my disease.

Knit on, my friends. Knit on.

…and another baby Fade enters the world.

It has been just crazy for the last two weeks. We have had really warm weather, blizzard warnings, a broken water heater, more medical testing, and another trip to the hospital. March has been a bad, bad boy. Tomorrow March will be going out like a lion as there is a rather major snow storm on the way that promises to gift us with either 2 inches or a whole foot of snow. As usual for this time of year, we won’t really know for sure until the snow stops falling. One thing is for sure, the roses are going to come out of this looking a little worse for the wear…

I have been dealing with all the stress and commotion in my usual manner; lots of knitting.  My latest “Find Your Fade” shawl has been growing at an impressive rate.

Cat helping knit shawl
The shawl became so large while I was working on it that I just spread it over my legs to make a nice bed for MacKenzie (ever helpful as always) to lie on while I knitted.
Shawl
By yesterday morning I was into the last section of the shawl. Look at those colors!!
Finished Shawl
Tonight I got it done while watching the evening news. The light is a little dim as I took the shot indoors, but you can still get a good idea of how the colors play together.
Shawl
Here is the other side of the shawl. I love, love, love this. My project notes can be found here.

Tomorrow I will be (surprise) casting on the start of a third Fade shawl just in time for the snow storm. This is addictive. I just need to see how the colors will go together.

MacKenzie, how do you feel about purple, magenta and turquoise yarn?

MacKenzie Speaks: Still Fading After All These Weeks…

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

The Mother of Cats is still going off and leaving us for a few days at a time, and when she comes home again she spends her days lying around with a heating pad on her knees knitting away on another huge shawl.

Cat and Knitting
Do I look happy here? No, I do not!!!

See what I’m talking about? I can barely squish myself onto her lap with all of that yarn in the way. I mean, I ABSOLUTELY need to be on the heating pad, and I also expect to knead my paws on the balls of yarn, and you know that knitting without chomping hardly counts at all. Right? You’d think that if I purred loud enough the Mother of Cats would understand and she’d make allowances to ensure I had enough room, but she just keeps whapping me with the shawl. On my head!! Sure, she always says that she is sorry, but really, don’t you think that she should concentrate on my needs and put the knitting well off to the side? Is that too much to ask?

Shawl
You have to admit that the shawl is growing pretty quickly. This is the way that it looked this morning. By this evening she had started on the 5th color. Yellow Boy and I were playing outside so we missed a lot of the knitting with that gold color. I really like that yarn, too, as silk and alpaca are kind of my chomping favorites. Have you ever tried yak? That is pretty yummy too…

While we were outside taking pictures we checked out the garden.

Cat and garden ornament
The garden squirrel come through the winter in good shape, but the flowers are still all dead looking.

I think that the Mother of Cats kind of misses the flowers because she planted some outside in the big planters this week. She says that these flowers can survive a snow storm. Snow? NO!! Cats do not like snow!

Flowers
Aren’t these flowers nice? They aren’t the kind that we like to eat, but at least she is trying. We really want the catmint to start growing…

I think that these are her favorite colors because she put together the yarns for ANOTHER one of those Fade shawls and it looks a lot like the flowers!

Yarns for a shawl
Somehow she thinks that she will wear this shawl in the summer. It will look a little like her garden. It would be better if it looked like mice, garter snakes and cat cookies. Just saying…

The Mother of Cats has clearly lost her mind. Doesn’t she understand that all things should be done in moderation? (That doesn’t apply, of course, to cat cookies…) When is she going to make my cat hoodie? How about some socks? I never have any trouble sitting in her lap when she is knitting socks. She has these UFOs sitting around the house, but she is just ignoring them too. Maybe she could just read books for awhile with the heating pad on her knees so I could just hang out with her for a couple hours at a time. The heating pad works better when I’m purring on top of it…

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

I continue to spend a couple of days a week with my sons helping out, who are dealing with ongoing health issues. It’s hard on the kitties, but such is life.

The shawl pattern is “Find Your Fade” by Andrea Mowrey. My project notes for the second shawl in the series are here. Each of the shawls lets me explore a different way to approach the colors and how I let them fade across the shawl. I’m having fun and busting my stash at the same time. Sorry MacKenzie!

March and April are the snowiest months of the year here in Colorado.  Just because it is nice and warm today doesn’t mean it won’t snow next week… Sad news for cats.