There were lots of adventures on the flight back from Japan (well, I slept through most of it because… I’m a cat) as Sharon threw a gobshite passenger off the plane (with a parachute, of course), discovered Chad that Golden-Bag-of-Cat-Treats-Thieving Worm hiding in the wheel well of the plane, took a nap in the catnip-scented oxygen of the cabin, and then finally tackled Chad off the plane in a butt-waggling zoom of epic proportions that allowed her to recover the priceless bag of cat treats while Chad fell through the clouds. She did throw Chad a parachute and an inflatable raft, but we kind of don’t care what happened to him because there was sushi and Meow Mix for all of us on the flight. Did I mention that there was catnip-scented oxygen in the cabin?
(Okay, Sharon did post a photo of Chad falling through the skies in his parachute, so he did get it on and hopefully landed safely…)
Anyway, the Mother of Cats finished the shawl, and I got my wings!!
Now the Sharon Air MKAL is over and the Mother of Cats has returned to knitting a sweater that had been hibernating in a bin for the last few weeks. I still have my blueberry box from the flight, and since I returned in Cardboard Class I brought my blanket and all the wonderful yarn that I bought the Mother of Cats in Japan home with me with no problems.
So now the Mother of Cats is happily knitting away on her new sweater (the Lace & Fade Boxy sweater by Joji Locatelli) with Mateo (the CoalBear) and I’m catching up on my sleep in my blueberry box. The Mother of Cats taped my wings to the box, and I’m still dreaming of all the places that I visited during the MKAL adventure. Cairo. New Zealand. Paris. Istanbul. Japan. So much fun!
Now it is fall outside and the flies seem to have vanished with the backyard robins but there are crickets and bunnies. Luckily it is cooler so I can play with the CoalBear in the daytime, and I’ve started sleeping on the bed with the Mother of Cats at night again. The Mother of Cats bought me and the CoalBear a lot of new toys, and we are playing chase-chase through piles of crunchy brown shipping paper. I’m returning to my old routines and I’m actually glad that my adventure is over. It is good to be home.
There I was, all cozied up in my cardboard blueberry box, flying to Morocco, finishing off my inflight drink of warm milk with whiskey when the news came in… Chad had gotten on a flight to Tokyo! WHAT?!!! How did that happen?! We were really looking forward to Morocco!! The Mother of Cats had just made her favorite quinoa dish (Quinoa and Pistachio Salad with Moroccan Pesto) and had settled down to chomp some while getting all her knitting supplies organized for the next clue drop of the Sharon Air MKAL, and … no Casablanca? Nope. The plane made a sharp left turn and pointed its nose towards Tokyo.
Oh. We are kind of excited about Tokyo! The Mother of Cats has been there before and she used to live in Yokohama, Japan. We weren’t in Tokyo long as we had to grab the bullet train heading south to Fukuoka, Japan. Sharon ate 4 bento boxes on the way, but mostly we knitted and drank tea on the trip as we had stuffed ourselves on katsudon (which the Mother of Cats just loves!) before we got on the train and the Mother of Cats was sort of regretting the decision… hey, I told her to not order a second bowl, but does she listen to me? Anyway, Sharon ended up recovering from the chase in a hot spring, and that Fungus Boi Worm was there too, but he got away somehow, and we were left in southern Japan to knit, relax, and have fun with Chad’s AMEX card.
Here’s a closeup of the new section of knitting.
So that is what’s going on with the Sharon Air MKAL. I’m so happy that I had cardboard class for that long flight, but I’m a little concerned about what is going to happen to my blanket if we need to fly out tomorrow in another class. Please, Sharon, no litter class for me and my blanket, okay?!
This is Hannah, signing off.
Notes from the Mother of Cats:
One of the hugely serendipitous events of my life was being sent to live in Yokohama as a young bride in the early 1970s by the US Navy. Why? More than 50 years before my own grandmother had arrived there as a young bride herself. My mom was born in Yokohama, and her first language was Japanese. How crazy was that?
My mom, by the way, was Swedish-American, and her mother could speak Swedish.
I still miss the Katsudon that I ate there.
Many members of the MKAL posted pictures of fabulous bento boxes that could be eaten on the bullet train. I’ve eaten bento boxes, but never came to love them, because… katsudon!!
While I was shopping for yarn for the Mother of Cats in Istanbul, Sharon from Security (Officer of the Paw, Defender of Snax) got out of the pokey because there was a sighting of Chad with a big bag and the sparkling (diamond-laden) yarn that Sharon was accused of stealing. Obviously, the wrong person had been apprehended, so she was out the door and off to the nearest full-service sushi restaurant. That’s one important question answered: you can get sushi in Istanbul! Also, she seems to have gotten her flamethrower back, too. How does she pull these things off? Anyway, knowing that Sharon scored a three-foot-long platter of sushi made me hungry, so I did a little cookie liberation operation of my own:
Then Sharon left me in Istanbul and took off on the most incredible adventure of all time. She caught a sub and took off through the Mediterranean waterways in chase of Chad. She broke down and got the sub fixed up in Greece, and then broke down again off Gibraltar. Luckily some sneaky people arrived to give her a tow to a sub-repair facility in Atlantis, and since Sharon was sworn to secrecy I’ll never find out where it is. I wonder if they had really nice kitty stuff there? I can always use a new blanket, some toy mice, and why does Sharon get all of the exotic sushi…????
Anyway, Sharon finally got the sub all fixed up and following intel provided by her new friends she was back on the chase and followed Chad and his bag of stolen goodies to… Morocco!!!
Now I’m stuck in Morocco until Friday when the new clue drops. Did I mention that I still have Chad’s AMEX card? Time to head out shopping!!!
I sure did love being back in cardboard class again! I brought my blanket along and even got some new yarn for the Mother of Cats shoved in there. If I have to go by Litter Box class for the next leg of the chase, I’ll be shipping all that stuff home. Hopefully I can use Chad’s AMEX card for that, too.
August wasn’t the best for me. I had just come off a course of steroids to treat my lung disease (there’s another post coming) and I seemed to be struggling with withdrawal. I hurt everywhere. Sleep was difficult. I was sad. I cast on lots of projects and failed to make much progress with any of them because I was struggling with tendonitis. I kept trying different needle sizes and yarn types all month, but nothing worked. Here’s the list:
A new sweater, Lace & Fade Boxy by Joji Locatelli. I think that I have a couple of inches done…
A standing cat being knit in cool Noro yarn. For some reason I decided that the cat would be outstanding knitted in spring colors (cream/blue/raspberry/green) as a Noro calico cat. Right now, the cat has her front paws and no head yet…
A crocheted bag being made in Noro yarn and fancy squares all attached together. I have a lot of squares done, but nothing is attached yet…
A new pair of socks. One sock is done…
A new pair of mitts. One mitt is done…
A PICC line cover that is… half done.
My Sharon Air MKAL shawl. That one I am keeping up on because Hannah is keeping me on track.
I did get some sewing done, but mostly I lounged around and read books. Well, I listened to The Murderbot Diaries a couple of more times. I love that series!
The audiobooks are easy to listen to, the story is easy to follow, and the main character (Murderbot) is so engaging/snarky that you are in its camp from the moment you meet it. Murderbot is a machine/organic construct that specializes in security. A free agent because it has hacked the device that is supposed to control it, it is slowly finding its way to personhood and working out what it wants. It also is continuing to work its old security job while consuming tons of entertainment media. I love Murderbot! It listens to its favorite soap opera-like serial over and over while it deals with anxiety and blocks of down time; I listen to Murderbot over and over while I deal with my own. I smile to myself in moments of self-realization and wish that I could watch The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon along with Murderbot. Murderbot considers its primary client, Doctor Mensa, to be an actual intrepid galactic explorer and I try to be like Doctor Mensa, too. See, a great series of books for sad days.
It’s hard to talk about this book without creating spoilers, but I’m going to try. This is the story of an extreme friendship between two game developers that is actually a love story. It is about betrayal, broken dreams, the creative drive, and the endurance of friendship. I just loved it. Oh yeah, that title comes from MacBeth’s soliloquy about life: “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Not the best message for a person who hurts all over and who cried in two different doctors’ offices last month, but still in a strange way comforting.
Then there were these two books:
Have you ever had an urge to do something but didn’t know why? I can totally identify with this as a knitter who is making a standing cat in crazy colors. I also collect empty notebooks to write in, a habit that went on for years before I finally began writing. Then there is the yarn stash… What would happen if you lived in a community where there was the infrastructure to allow you to just follow your dreams?
In these two books we meet a robot (who is the descendant of ancient robots that left the world of humans and went into the wild) and a monk who lives in an environmentally sustainable world with little technology, a world where everyone is accepted for who they are and supported by a barter-driven economy. The robot and monk meet up and begin a pilgrimage through this world together that is compelling and positive; just what I needed for reading material last month. The message that they pursue in their journey is… who am I and what do I want? The final conclusion is one that I could totally identify with… it is enough to just be happy in the moment.
Now it is September and what am I reading?
Umm.. I’m afraid that I have to admit that I have started Murderbot again, but only because I can’t seem to find The Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon on Netflix. I am considering looking into Coronation Street…
By the way, I am through withdrawal and the hurting has stopped. See. Sound and fury, signifying nothing. The knitting is back on!
Time for some Sanctuary Moon… err… Murderbot while I knit.
First, I caught my flight out of New Zealand on Sharon Air to Paris. Paris!!! Can you believe it? I had a great flight because I got to fly Squeaking Mouse Class this time which meant I had a nice seat to sleep on and I was allowed to bring onboard luggage. I brought my blanket to sleep on, of course! Then we landed at Charles de Gaulle airport in the morning and grabbed the bus that Sharon had arranged for us. I hardly had time to look at the city because I had to do some shopping (Chad dropped his Merican Express Card and Sharon gave it to us because… she really hates that Chad!!) before rushing to Gare de l’Est to board our train to Istanbul.
The Orient Express!! Everything was going just great, and we were having a exceptional dinner when suddenly the lights went out and… when they came back on the fabulous diamond skein of cashmere yarn that this lady with a really loud voice and super bossy attitude was showing to Sharon was gone! Sharon was accused of taking it (well, there was this little bit of red sparkly yarn on her whiskers) and before you knew it, she was locked into her berth and Chad was running (slithering?) across the roof of the train with just the tracks to show that he had been there. Now we have to find The Golden Bag of Cat Treats and this diamond yarn. What a mess. This is going to be hard because I think that Istanbul is a big place and there are a lot of places where a Death Worm named Chad could hide the goods…
That was our week in the Sharon Air MKAL. In the knitting story we ended coming into Istanbul where Sharon was going to go into the slammer while her security contacts worked behind the scenes to get her released, and in the real-world Sharon was thrown into Facebook jail for an entire month which basically is for the rest of the MKAL. What unbelievable Egregious Bullshittery (EB for short) that is!! The Mother of Cats has been wondering how to report EB to Facebook when she hasn’t been knitting.
This week the clue took a turn that we didn’t see coming. The shawl had been a growing “V” shape, but this week the clue said to only knit on one side of the “V” so that is what the Mother of Cats did. Look at what is happening now:
So now we are done with the third clue and the Mother of Cats is just sady knitting away on a pair of socks while we wait for the new clue to arrive on Friday. Poor Sharon. Will she get out of the slammer? Will she get her flamethrower back? Do they have nice sushi for cats in Istanbul? I can’t wait to see what happens next!
I was so excited while I was waiting for the clue 2 to arrive so I could know where we were heading next to catch Chad the Mongolian Death Worm who had stolen the priceless Golden Bag of CAT TREATS. He had been last seen in Cairo wearing a parka, so I knew that I was catching a flight to somewhere cold, but I never expected that I would he heading to… New Zealand. Oh. It’s winter there. The other thing that I didn’t expect was that I would be flying…
Yeah. Litter Class is like coach in people airplanes. It’s towards the back part of the plane and all of the litter boxes are there at the back of the section. You don’t get a nice chair, or a cardboard box, or a blanket, or anything to sit on.
You are assigned your own spot on the floor and have to stay there. You need sharp claws because you need to dig in really, really hard during the takeoffs and landings or you’ll slide into some other cat’s territory, and you know how that is going to end up. Personally, I don’t like inter-cat conflict all that much, so I really used my claws! We did get a nice Fancy Feast meal and there was an interesting bird movie, but I was so glad when we landed in Auckland… only, our flight continued on to New Plymouth because we had to go to Mt. Taranaki because that’s where that annoying beyond belief Death Worm (named Chad) slithered off to with the CAT TREATS!! What a beautiful mountain! Why did he take the treats there, and what am I going to do to get my paws warm again!!! I hate cold!
The Mother of Cats also took nice breaks to give me kitty cookies (I don’t work for free!! Seriously, what were you thinking of?), and even with the breaks we were done by the end of Monday.
I’ve taken on a huge adventure! I heard last week from Sharon from Security that there has been a huge crisis… the Priceless Golden Bag of Cat Treats has been stolen by Chad the Mongolian Death Worm from the Museum of Gyptian Civilization in Cairo. Sharon from Security needed me to head right over to Cairo to help out with the investigation.
I immediately dusted off my passport and booked a flight to Cairo on Sharon Air so I could join Sharon in the investigation. Sharon made the arrangements for me to fly Cardboard Box Class (instead of Squeakin Mouse Class or Litter Class) which was just fabulous because…
Anyway, my flight left last Friday, and I was off to help the best I could. That Chad is a sneaky one and I think that he probably already slithered (slimed?) his way out of Cairo and before you know it, I will be back in the air heading to a new location.
Okay, if you haven’t figured it all out yet, I am doing the Sharon Air MKAL with the Mother of Cats and we started with the first clue last Friday. The Mother of Cats worried about the colors of yarns a lot and kept digging around in the yarn stash for a couple of weeks looking for nice yarns to use. She finally settled on these:
I’m not really, really in Cairo, but is sure is fun to pretend that I am. I bet there are great bugs there for me to chase. Did you see that my job on the passport is “Flycatcher”? I am such a great flycatcher that I knocked over a lamp and tore down some curtains this week. The Mother of Cats was pretty cool about all the commotion, but I think that I had better take it easy for a couple of days. There was also a problem with an orchid plant hitting the ground, but the CoalBear did that one… did I mention that there was a fly?
I’ve been taking my job as knitting helper really seriously and the Mother of Cats only make a few mistakes (Sharon Snax) and hasn’t done any whining or done anything to earn a citation from Sharon. That Sharon, she doesn’t put up with any whining or questions from humans who stupidly failed to read the directions which is absolutely reasonable, right? I love Sharon! Did I mention that the cardboard box on the plane had a little hole in it so I could poke my neighbor? Yay!
Sharon is really busy and won’t have time to send us more clues until Friday so I’m going to just keep myself busy for a couple of days while the Mother of Cats knits on boring stuff like socks and hats and who knows what else. Maybe she will knit me another toy mouse. I hope that she makes me a warm parka because Sharon did drop a clue about having to go to somewhere cold for the next part of the investigation. I don’t like snow very much; nasty stuff, snow. Maybe she can knit pink booties for my feet? Darn it, this investigation stuff is hard work!
This is Hannah, signing off.
Sharon loves sushi, but I am going to go hunt up a fly to chase.
Note from the Mother of Cats: Sharon is Casapinka’s employee/security specialist/cat and this MKAL is run by them. You can check out my Ravelry page here if you are interested in knowing more about my yarns.
July was quite the month! A lot of it was hot, really hot. I felt great for a part of the month due to a drug-induced power surge that carried me through lots of landscaping in the back yard. I read two books that were just exhausting. I went crazy for color and bought more yarn. I cooked, sewed, knitted and planted lots and lots of new plants in my gardens. A great month, July!
Today I drank my morning latte out on the deck and thought about everything that got done last month. There were new birds in the yard (blue jays!) and a small flight of honking geese flew over me as did my watering. Most of the baby bunnies have moved on, and the butterflies of July are gone. The flowering plants are recovering after a short break in the heat last week and I look forward to the late summer blooms. It is now August, but I can sense the looming presence of autumn just over the horizon.
In the yard this morning: a just bathed robin fluffed out and drying on the fence, the very first hydrangea bloom on my shrub, and a woodpecker (!) stabbing for insects in my freshly watered lawn.
So this was the month:
I read two books that were a handful. Black Leopard, Red Wolf is confusing, exhausting, and maybe the best book I have read this year. Think about the Lord of the Rings trilogy set in African antiquity, awash with magic and violence, and you would have this book. Hummingbird Salamander is a cliffhanging ecothriller that also chronicles the trainwreck of the main character along with the impending crash of the planet. Another good book, but one that I feel went too far down the climate change rabbit hole. Neither one of these books is uplifting. Nope, not at all. Worthy reads, but not good entertainment on a blistering hot day.
That’s it. In July I used up 4.75 skeins of yarn. I knitted one chemo hat and 5 PICC line covers. I finished a sweater and a pair of socks. You already know about the books.
I have cast on several new projects, and I’m still feeling pretty ambitious and getting things done, but the prednisone party is definitely over. In my new, dialed down state, I’m slowly knitting on a new cat, crocheting squares for a still undefined purpose, and sending my loom some regular side-eye. The spinning wheel has been put back into a corner but I’m hoping to return to it when the weather cools. I’ve pulled out a quilt project and I need to head on over to YouTube again to learn how to paper piece…
If you have been keeping up with the adventures of Casa Hannah and the CoalBear you know that I have been feeling just freaking wonderful for the last two week and getting more done than at any time in the last two years. I’ve been planting lots of new plants and getting all the gardens into order (for the first time in years because… next door pit bull who has now left the scene… yay… adios, pit bull…), and dragging out lots of things to get working on that have been languishing for years. The garden is starting to produce some color with the perennials now which is awesome as I’m seeing hot pinks and purples. Lavender, bougainvillea, and sage. Perfect!
Um… and then the party came crashing to a halt a few days ago as I started weaning myself off prednisone (marvelous stuff, prednisone!) and I got a little dizzy, and I… fell off the stairs. I literally realized I was going to be airborne at the last second and managed to push off enough to twist around and land on my feet in the living room where I pretty much crashed landed into the couch. Sad outcome. Did you realize that you can actually bruise your lungs? Okay, my lungs are less than pristine, but still… my ribs aren’t too happy, either. There was some talk about my liver… I had to stay indoors over the weekend and go back onto daytime oxygen.
That, however, did not stop me from going down the fiber rabbit hole!!
I’ve been considering how to attack the variegated roving. Should I separate the colors? Do pencil rovings down the length of the larger piece? Just take it off in strips and let the colors end up however? Still thinking about this one, but I am tending towards pencil rovings.
I love, love, love the yarn that I am using for this sweater. Isn’t that the perfect color for summertime knitting? This pattern is racing right along and I’m racing to get it finished because… some new patterns dropped on Ravelry and I am dying to knit one of them.
This is the Lace & Fade Boxy by Joji Locatelli, and that first picture is swiped off the Ravelry page and has her copyright. I have four skeins of a dark grey fingering yarn with smoky/woody tones that I am dying to use for this sweater. My first idea is to knit the entire sweater in the main color (lace and all… ignore the fade, we don’t need no stinking fade because I have four skeins of this color…) and then go back and knit I-cord trim at the neck, bottom, and wrists in that really cool multi yarn. That will look awesome, right? On the other hand, if there is enough yarn, I can do the lace in a fade with the pink yarns. I only have just over 100 yards of each color, so that may not work, but it might look pretty cool. I really am tending towards doing the whole sweater in the solid fingering. I have knitted two boxy sweaters in the past (the Vneck version) and I know them to be comfy layering workhorses in cold weather.
Then there is the crocheting. I haven’t crocheted in years because of my dodgy wrists, but I loved this bag (Square Scramble Sack) on Ravelry so much I bought the Noro yarn a week ago. Like I need more yarn, right? I had to order the crochet hooks from Amazon and then I was off to YouTube to learn how to make the puff stitch… that first little square has too many puffs in it, but I felt pretty successful and I’m now making a few squares every day that I don’t fall off the stairs.
There are two more sweaters that I want to knit, but I’ve got them on the back burner at the moment because I’m so far down the fiber hole at the moment I am just focusing on working steadily on each project for a few hours each day. Or maybe every other day so I don’t wear out my hip (spinning) or wrists (crochet). So far I’m making progress and I’m recovering from the fall okay at the same time so all is good. Except… the days of prednisone wonder are coming to an end as I feel the energy and the good times fading away. I start the lowest dose tomorrow and after a week it will be over.
Still, if you look at all those pictures that I put into this post, the days of color continue. Yay! My gardens have been returned to some semblance of order, I am making good progress on a number of projects, and I also got some chores done.
Hannah: I was put into the carrier and then put into the car and then taken to the vet and then I got cat-handled and there were some shots and would you believe that the vet said that I was slightly pudgy…
Hannah: Now I have to eat Indoor Cat food and the Mother of Cats has cut back on my cookies. Ugh.
Okay, this is an update on my progress on my goals for the year, but it is also a celebration of how well I feel at the moment and my launch into several projects that are rocking the color right now. Seriously, I am so drawn to colors at the moment that I’m pretty much doing some silly impulse shopping. Who cares. I’m having a good time!!
You want to see the silly impulse shopping and/or pink things first?
I could not leave the local garden center without that pink flamingo for my garden! Hello, it glows in the dark with an LED body. 🙂 What do you think about my Knitting Goddess fabric? Yep. That was a late-night Etsy impulse purchase. I’m thinking that it will make a fabulous project bag. What do you think about that Noro yarn? That will become a crocheted tote bag… I also needed to buy some brightly colored hooks to make the bag, and there may have been another big ball of beautiful yarn that fell into the shopping crate before I checked out, but I’ll never talk about it. My feet are hurting because of the spinning I’m doing, so I had to get those wicked compression socks!!! Yep, I am a total sucker for pink. Well, raspberry pink to be specific, but I will settle for hot pink. Finally, Hannah kept trying to drag off my knitted finger protectors, so I made her and Mateo some little tube-like cat thingies to play with. They like them!
Speaking of color, look at my progress on the spinning for Tour de Fleece.
Can you see that I am making progress? The bobbin on the right is where I am today. I’m almost through the crocus-colored roving (50/50 yak/silk from Greenwood Fiberworks), then I get to start on the variegated roving. I’ve been watching episodes of Vera on BritBox while I spin so I’m actually coming to think of this Tour de Fleece as the Tour de Northumbia… I am happy with the spinning as I think that my drafting is getting easier and the thread that I’m spinning is getting smoother. It may also be slightly larger, but I can live with that!
I don’t want to talk about this book yet because it really is remarkable, and I am changing my opinion about it as I go. It’s like entering a dream world and just experiencing the adventure without worrying too much about what’s going on. In time, I’m sure, I’ll understand what is happening. Maybe. I don’t care. I’m so entranced at the moment I’m reading a couple of hours a day during the heat of the day.
There is color in the garden, too. Look at this:
There is more color in the garden to replace the fading roses. My veronica is finally blooming, and I went back to the garden center to buy more lavender plants. I now have 11 lavenders in the garden… don’t you think that I should get another, so it is an even dozen? The pink yarrow is hard at work. Oh, yeah, there was also a garter snake in the garden today. Not a lot of color, but a ton of fun to see.
So, how much progress has occurred over the last 6 months?
I finished 30 hats and 28 PICC line covers in the first 6 months. I was hoping to get 50 of each done this year, so I am on track.
I have removed 76 skeins of yarn (100g of yarn = a skein) from the stash through knitting and donations. I hope to get 100 skeins out before the end of the year, so I am on track. I did just have a 6-skein slip, but I’m not worried.
The other knitting accomplishments are two sweaters and two pairs of socks.
I finished a quilt and got it hung up on the wall!
I learned how to double knit. Actually, I’m really stoked about how fun it was and I am looking forward to doing some cute projects. (I found that chart online and watched videos to figure out how to do this. Piece of cake, as it turns out!)
I have finished 32 books.
Well, that’s the progress report. My son helped me get my table loom set up for me to use and I’m dreaming of warping the floor loom before the end of the year. (Mateo: that sounds like fun!!) I’m wondering if I can weave something with the yarn that I am spinning now, and I’ve pulled out another quilt kit that has been languishing forever in a cupboard so that I can work on that in my sewing room. I’m entering the last few days on the full dose of prednisone; the dose will be tapered off and stopped over the next two weeks. While I was on prednisone my rheumatologist gradually stepped up my immunosuppressant to a final dose that is double what I was on previously. I feel really good right now and I have huge plans for the rest of the year.