Knitting Changes

You know, some of the best lessons in life are ones that you didn’t see coming. Years ago, I was a member of a 6th grade instructional team that taught integrated units. The kids were learning about Canada in social studies at that time, and the language arts teacher had them reading Julie of the Wolves. I read the book too even though I was the social studies/science teacher, and one of the lessons really stuck with me. It was advice from Julie’s father to her: if what you are doing doesn’t work, change what you are doing. I am not one to quit easily, but sometimes that isn’t the right attitude.

I’ve been struggling with my treatment plan for months and I finally decided that we needed to do something different. My pulmonologist stopped the medication (Ofev) that I was taking to treat my lung disease (interstitial lung disease) because of side effects and started me on two inhaled medications instead. In the aftermath of this change, every single one of my tendons has decided that it hates my guts. Everything, everything hurts, and my arms are back in braces. I have two canes going so I am never far from one when I walk, and the walker is back out for use in the house. Feeling sorry for myself, I was slow to realize that Hannah had a rash on her tummy, and she was just miserable, licking and cleaning herself so much all the hair was gone and she had open sores.

After eliminating everything that I could think of, I have concluded that Hannah is allergic to the blanket that I’m knitting!

That yarn that makes up the Nectar blanket is made of recycled fibers, and it includes raw silk. If you don’t know raw silk, it has a slight smell because the proteins from the silkworm cocoon are present. I kind of think that the silk is the problem, so I have packed the blanket away for now because Hannah LOVES TO LAY ON IT!!! Hannah got a bath with soothing anti-itch shampoo and the rash is gone and her fur is growing back. Bad yarn, bad!!

It hurt my hands too much to knit on it anyway. The lace is hard to work, and the purl rows are misery. Goodbye, blankie. You are going into time out for now.

I also packed away the yarns for the La Prairie sweater that I wanted (really badly) to knit because it is a cardigan and is knit back and forth (instead of in the round); all those purl rows on the wrong side will kill me. The yarn is now keeping company with the Nectar blanket in time out.

Obviously, I needed to find something that I can knit. What I’ve been knitting (and want to knit) isn’t working, but by golly, there must be something that I can knit on. Something that is only in the round, almost all knit stitches, and easy to pick up and put down again without losing my place.

Behold: Scrunch Socks!!

These socks were a free pattern on Ravelry, and they are just what I needed. There is no ribbing at the top: just stockinette that curls around to form a rolled edge. The purl row is every 9 rounds, so I can manage that. The heel is made with all knit stitches! I’m able to knit with size 1 cable needles because I push them with the back of my hands without using my wrists.

and these socks are… scrunchy!

The socks are slightly oversized so they are easy for me to pull on. I’m slowly making progress and my wrists have improved so much that I’ve transitioned from the hard braces to compression braces on my wrists while I work. I knit outside most mornings with the cats enjoying the birdsong and fresh air, dreaming about the colors to knit a Soldotna Crop sweater in fingering weight yarn.

The cats hang out under my swinging seat while I knit. I think that they are dreaming about catching bunnies…

Soldotna is written to be knit in DK weight yarn, but I think that is too heavy for me to use as a light topper over long-sleeved shirts. I have been messing around looking at other sweaters by this designer that I’ve made that were written for fingering weight, and I think that if I go up a size in the pattern, I can substitute fingering for the DK. Also, fingering is easier to work with while my hands are totally acting like assholes, and stranded knitting is slower knitting and hopefully easier on my hands than my usual speedy pace. Did I mention that there are no purls in this pattern once I’m through the first rows of ribbing?

As usual I am fussing about the colors and the order in which they will be knit. I had completely decided on the first combination (with Mateo in the background) when I decided to play around with a combination that is more colorful by adding in the turquoise multi. Everything depends on the order of the colors in the design; I’m pretty happy with the combination on the right, and I’ve decided that if I don’t like it, I’ll just shop the stash and start over with some other colors. You know, if what you’re doing doesn’t work… The other factor that is causing me to lean towards the more colorful set is that the yarn is a little heavy for fingering, so I have a better chance that it will work in the pattern.

Have I wound the yarn for the sweater yet? Nope. It still seems too exhausting right now, but it is hopefully set out by the umbrella swift in my dining room. Soon, Soldotna, someday soon my wrists and hands will decide to behave themselves and it will be your turn.

Take that scleroderma. You’ve been messing with the wrong knitter!


  • Julie of the Wolves is one of the books that gets banned from time to time, but it certainly made an impact with me and my students loved it.
  • My pulmonologist says that there are two other drugs in the pipeline that I may be able to take when they are approved. Yay, science!
  • Hannah was the best girl ever with her bath. She didn’t struggle or even meow while I was washing her tummy and then she let me blow dry her with absolutely no fuss. How about that!
  • The color of the yarn that I am knitting the socks with is… Perfect Miracle. How cool is that? Just the color that I need right now.

Hannah and the CoalBear: Backyard Adventures

Hi. I’m Hannah.

Don’t you think that the new blankie looks nice with my fur? The Mother of Cats made good progress this week with 6 more hexagons knitted.

The weather suddenly turned nice this week and the Mother of Cats has been letting us spend more time out on the catio. WE LOVE THE CATIO!!! I mean, there is so much stuff to see out there that we never ever really saw before, and it keeps on changing all day long. The leaves move all by themselves!! There are more bugs than Mateo can chase, and this squirrel hangs around barking at us. Mateo wants to go play with it, but the Mother of Cats said no. She kind of says no a lot to Mateo. He kind of deserves it!

I’m not sure that this squirrel wants to play with Mateo the way it carries on up in the tree… so much noise!!

Luckily for Mateo the baby bunny is starting to get more used to us and comes out when we are on the catio. At first it wouldn’t come out if it even suspected that we were there, so Mateo had to resort to watching it from afar…

Eventually, the bunny began to come out to munch on dandelions while we were on the deck right by it. Now we can watch it up close as long as we move sneaky. Mateo is beside himself with excitement and I have to admit, I really like it too.

Do you see how close I can get to the bunny now?

Friday we spent all morning outside. The Mother of Cats was working on planting new flowers while we snoozed under the garden chair on the deck.

Do you see how nice these flowers are?

Lots of birds stopped by the yard: a blue jay, a robin, mourning doves, and even a crow. The leaves on the trees had just burst out of their buds that morning, and the ill-tempered squirrel was literally frolicking in the grass of the yard. It was a perfect, perfect morning.

Until the Mother of Cats looked up in time to see Mateo streaking across the lawn outside the catio wire…

I told him not to do it…

Soooo… there is a little problem with Mateo. He likes to streak through doors, but if he thinks that he is trapped on the other side, he has a TOTAL COW with so much yowling and frantic racing around that it is just horrible to watch. That’s exactly what happened when Mateo figured out that he was trapped on the WRONG SIDE of the wire. The Mother of Cats put me into the house, and then went outside the wire to catch him. Nope. Nope. Nope. There was no catching that little CoalBear because he was too intent on getting back into the catio, he is covered in slippery fur, and he just kept racing past her and pawing at the wire. He acted like he was afraid of the Mother of Cats! Did I mention that he was yowling? The dog next door started barking, all the bunnies and birds were long gone, and things didn’t look good until the Mother of Cats finally managed to herd him towards the opening in the wire so he could return to safety. Whew. She let me back out, got the staple gun to secure every single inch of wire so that there were no gaps at all, and then turned around to see…

Mateo leaping off the table and over the catio wire like a freaking gazelle!!

Cue the yowling, frantic racing and wire pawing … Thank heavens the next-door dog had been taken away and wasn’t barking anymore. Yeah. We had to go through the WHOLE THING AGAIN to get him back to the safe catio.

Mateo: Hannah called me names after we got back into the house. Why is she so mean to me?

Today we are staying indoors and taking it easy. The Mother of Cats moved the table so that it is farther from the wire, but we can’t go out unless she is right with us.

That’s okay. During all that commotion a freaking MOTH got into the house.

Mateo: best cat toy ever!

So now I’m hanging out with the Mother of Cats while she knits, and Mateo is relentlessly tracking the moth. He is such a silly, silly boy.

Have a good Caturday, everyone.

This is Hannah, signing off.

Knitting after the Cath Lab

Hey. I know that I’ve been missing for a while (again). In my last post I wrote about my upcoming trip to the cath lab to get a right heart catherization. This procedure involves having a small sensing device threaded into your heart to check (in my case) the internal blood pressure. Normal pressure in the right side of your heart should be about 14mm Hg; mine had measured 44 mm Hg in an echocardiogram so my cardiologist wanted to get a direct reading.

Here I am, rocking my scleroderma symptoms along with the cath wound. Puffy hands, bluish nose and lips, tons of little red dots on my face… That bandage came off the next day and the entry wound healed right up.

The procedure went well. My pressure measured in the low 20s, which was soooo much better than my cardiologist feared. The number was higher than the last time I had a direct measurement, so my pulmonary hypertension has advanced, especially since I am now on medication to treat my condition, but I’ll take it! It was, once again, a really positive experience and I felt well cared for by all the staff. I was pretty exhausted, hungry, but upbeat on the drive home.

Then I went into a flare… I slept for almost the entire week after the procedure. Seriously, like 12 hours a night and a couple of naps. I had to go back onto daytime oxygen. My hair started falling out again. I was dizzy and exhausted. My joints really hurt. A flare.

This week I’m finally awake again and I pulled out the blanket that I’m knitting. I knitted more hexagons and measured the blanket on the bed. I went out and bought more yarn. I have the hexagons to add another row and the blanket is slowly growing…

I think that I’m going to need more yarn… this is the Nectar Blanket by Ysolde Teague.

I’m really happy with the progress of the blanket, but I have to admit that it is becoming a little boring. I dream of other knitting projects as I sew the hexagons together. I have a serious urge to knit a new sweater in some fabulous colors.

Look at this little topper sweater!! It is called La Prairie (by Joji Locatelli) and I seriously want this sweater. I want to knit in cool colors. Did I mention that I live on the edge of the Great Plains? I long to wind yarn and to cast on and to start knitting those waves and bobbles…

I broke down and bought this kit to knit the sweater online a few weeks ago.

Don’t you love these colors?

The trouble is, I just have to dream and fuss about colors before I am happy. I’m not sure about the order in the kit yarn. I’m not completely a fan of the middle yarn, and I feel like the lavender should be in the middle. I’ve been digging in the stash and trying to image the finished product with other blends of color…

Here are three more spins on the yarn. I like the one on the left the most, with the yarn fading from dark purple to the light grey at the sleeves and bottom of the sweater, but I’m kind of interested in the middle and right versions. I have to ask myself… which version will have the most flexibility in the wardrobe? Definitely, it would be the first spin on the kit, the version with the light grey at the sleeves.

I also desperately want to buy yarn to knit a Soldatna Crop sweater, and some new arm warmers, and then there are those PICC line covers and hats to get done… Did I mention that I have been looking at more yarn online and dreaming of sweaters with lots of colors in DK weight yarn? I’m totally on a knitting drive, but my wrists are not on board with all this needle action. It could be that I’m not completely done with the flare…

Sigh. Guess I’ll just cast on another hexagon or two…

PS I’m still dealing with shortness of breath and low on oxygen; lung testing happens next month as my doctors continue to sort me out. 🙂

The Scleroderma Chronicles: Carrying Light

You know, I think that synchronicity is a real thing; you just have to pay attention to what is going on around you. Sometimes, if you take notice, the world hands you just what you need at that moment.

Scleroderma has been kicking my butt lately. Having improved dramatically over the summer and sailing through my heart/lung testing last fall, my doctors were pretty upbeat when I reported worsening symptoms while visiting them in late winter. They ordered some testing, but they were also very reassuring.

A week ago I arrived at a Kaiser facility bright and early for a routine echocardiogram and 6-minute walk test. The echocardiogram did not go well (usually they don’t hurt, and what was up with having to pause so I could pant a little to catch my breath…) and I was in the red zone (the pulse oximeter starts glowing red if your oxygen drops below 90%) after a minute of walking. The test was halted after 3 minutes, and the concerned nurse walked me out to the elevator.

Ugh. Not good, little BLZ, not good. Refusing to overreact, I went to my favorite yarn store on my way home, bought some great yarn, and then hit Starbucks by my house. It was a bright, blue day and I headed out to the deck to knit.

I took this picture of Hannah. Look at that bright, blue sky!

Do you know the quote by Elizabeth Zimmerman that goes “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.”? Yep. That is a quote to live by! I cast on a new hexagon for my blanket and started knitting. I felt myself settle inside, my breathing steadied, I began to process what had happened, and my anxiety faded away. Scleroderma is a monster, and by the time I was casting off the hexagon, I was ready to once again face it down.

This post had appeared in my knitting group on Facebook from Michelle Obama a few days before:

Well, look at that: Michelle Obama is a knitter! Yay! It looks like she also knows about the Zen of knitting and the ability it has to bring calm and purpose to a simple activity while you reflect upon and process problems large and small. I knitted every night to finish my teaching days. I knit in hospitals. I knit in meetings. I knit just about everywhere I can, and I especially knit to deal with the rolling shitshow that is my chronic illness. I went and bought Michelle’s book.

Thursday morning the results from the echocardiogram were posted and a couple of hours later my cardiologist called me. I was knitting and ready for the call.

For the first time the words stage 3 heart failure were used in the discussion with my doctor. My pulmonary pressure is higher than ever before and there is more fluid around my heart. It is not clear if my symptoms are caused by worsening pulmonary hypertension or pericarditis, but the only way to sort this out is to go back into the cath lab and directly measure the pressures with a right heart catherization. It may be both. I will need a different treatment regimen. An emergency referral was put in and tomorrow I’m heading back to the hospital for the procedure. This is what happened the last time I did this.

My pulmonologist, who works closely with my cardiologist and rheumatologist, saw me on Friday for a lung function test and office visit. My lungs are hanging in there, but my ability to diffuse oxygen into my bloodstream has dropped significantly. I told him about the upcoming trip to the cath lab, and he started checking those test results. I’m not going to lie, it is a little alarming when your doctor says, “No, no, this is not good. I am not happy with this at all.” More testing has been ordered. He emailed the other doctors on the team to start the discussion about what changes should be made with my meds.

I took this picture of my new Goldwing sweater in his office the day that I met him. If you are going to scary appointments, armor yourself in your favorite knits!

This weekend I started reading The Light We Carry and was amazed that it starts with… knitting. Serendipity strikes!! Michelle Obama began knitting at the start of the pandemic as she struggled with the lockdown: grief, isolation, loss, and everything else that happened in that time. It became an important vehicle for processing, recovery, and perspective for her. The daughter of a father with MS, she is very aware of disability and how it absolutely impacts how someone like me can view myself and the rest of the world. She talked about using tools such as the cane that her father needed to empower ourselves to deal with what comes our way. Her book appears to be a toolbox of different strategies to cope with the challenges in life.

For the first time since all this started happening last week, I cried. This book is absolutely, positively, what I needed to read right now as I pack my bag for the hospital and prepare for what is coming my way in the upcoming days and weeks. It’s like someone could see right into my heart and lit a light for me. I will carry that light along with its warmth and glow tomorrow as I join my doctor and the pit crew in the cath lab. Whatever happens, I am positive, I will glow, and my light will shine.

So, Michelle, whatever can I show off as a favorite knit? Every single item that I cast off my needles has left me with a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and fed my creative needs. Knitting helps me cope with adversity, plan my day, and work through problems. Knitting delivers calm in a time of crisis. Knitting allows me to deal with an unpredictable autoimmune disease that delivers an uncertain future. Knitting connects me to all the knitters in the past and provides gifts for others as I pay forward. It is essential for my being and a vehicle to connect with others.

Here are some things I’m really pleased with: Goldenfern, a knitted copy of a beloved (and lost) cat, baby booties gifted to a neighbor knitted from a pattern handed down through 4 generations of my family, the hats and PICC line covers that are donated to Kaiser infusion centers in my area, and Mando (and Grogu) mitts for a knitworthy niece.

Tomorrow I’m wearing arm warmers and knitted socks into the cath lab. Take that, scleroderma.

Behold, I carry my (knitted) light with me!

Did you wonder what a BLZ is? That’s me, the Blue-Lipped Zebra!

Hannah and the CoalBear: The Blanket Update.

Hi. I’m Hannah.

I have a new box to sit in! This is my blackberry box.

The Mother of Cats has kind of been all over the map lately. She knits on a project, works on her plants, reads a book, knits on another project, starts listening to a different book, and on and on and on. She just can’t seem to settle down and get things done. The books are getting stacked up next to the bed, and the knitting project bags are all over the house!! It is just crazy! I have been hanging out with her trying to settle her down, and slowly she has gotten several knitting projects done. A hat, a PICC line cover, some socks, and a knitted cat all got done. The empty project bags are piling up and I’ve shoved most of them into places where she can’t see them. The CoalBear dragged one of them behind the plants in the living room and I have one stashed under the bed…

Finally, she is spending most of her time knitting my blanket. Yay!

The blanket is going to be made from these knitted hexagons. Don’t you like that color of pink? I think that it looks good with my fur.
The Mother of Cats knitted a whole bunch of the units and kept them in a box where I couldn’t play with them. What is up with that? Finally, last week we began sewing the little units of the blanket together.
Look at how nice the hexs are going together!

It got really nice and warm this week and the Mother of Cats finally let the CoalBear and me go outside. There are bugs out there! I was a little freaked out by the wind, but mostly it is wonderful to hang out on the catio with her while she sews on my blanket.

Where is the bunny?

Yes, you read that right. The Mother of Cats put up chicken wire around the deck so the CoalBear and I can visit the outside, look at the bunny, and enjoy the breeze while staying safe. This is our catio now, and there is also a swinging garden seat and a nice table out there so the Mother of Cats can hang out with us as she enjoys her lunch and sews on the blanket. I just love spring, don’t you?

Don’t I look nice on the table?

So, do you want to see the whole blanket? It’s not done but you can kind of imagine what it will look like someday…

See how wide it is going to be!

Yesterday the Mother of Cats finished sewing together all of the hexagons that were made and she went back to knitting more hexs. She wants the blanket to be pretty big so there is still a lot of knitting to get done, and she is even talking about buying more yarn. What? When will this blanket ever get done?

That’s okay. I’ll just grap a nap while she’s knitting.

This is Hannah, signing off.

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

The blanket is being knit from the pattern Nectar Blanket by Ysolda Teague. I got a little carried away sewing together the units and my version is going to be bigger than the largest size in the pattern because, well, isn’t it really nice looking? I want it to cover the bed and I do have to share with the cats…

I’m going to have to get another large cable needle to put the border on this baby!

It has been just beautiful outdoors this week and I put out some potted plants. Yeah. It is going to be really cold again with snow this weekend. Those flowers with the cats on their catio will be heading into the garage tomorrow.

Hannah and the CoalBear: Orchid Cat Caturday

Hi. I’m Hannah.

The Mother of Cats has been ignoring me for days and days while she knits on a… CAT!!

I hardly know what to think. She had this cool yarn in the stash that kind of reminded her of orchids and spring. The orchids started blooming a few weeks ago and that was that… she began to ignore me and the CoalBear and started fussing over the orchids and the yarn.

Okay, it is true that the orchids are kind of cool. I like to climb into the garden where they are growing from time to time to hang out with them. The Mother of Cats gets a little cranky when I do it, however, so I don’t get to do it all the time. I lately have been sleeping right next to the Mother of Cats while she knits on this… cat… Really, it doesn’t look all that much like a cat, but she kept telling me that it was. Here’s what happened.

The cat started out with some crazy knitting that produced this leg. Whatever. I have a cat paw, and it doesn’t look anything like that. The colors kind of are like orchids, however…
As she kept knitting it began to look a little more like a cat, but…
What is up with this face!!!

I was really concerned for the Mother of Cats. It seemed like she didn’t really know what a cat is supposed to look like. I can kind of see the chin, but that nose and the EYES were the stuff of knitty kitty nightmares.

Finally, the ears, nose, and eyes were on the cat. Oh, wow. This is starting to look like a kitty (or maybe a pug?) and I can almost hear it asking, “When will I be done?”
Two days ago, she finally finished knitting the cat and I helped her put the whiskers on. Gee. He almost looks like he belongs in the orchids, doesn’t he.
He even looks pretty good in my strawberry box!
But the Mother of Cats says that he actually belongs in the orchid garden. He does look pretty good in there.

Now that the Mother of Cats has finished up the orchid kitty she has gone back to knitting on my blanket. Yay!! She isn’t ignoring me so much because she keeps putting the blanket on me while she sews the pieces together. I can’t wait to get my blanket and we are working on it every evening together while the CoalBear runs wild and chases his toys downstairs.

Mateo the CoalBear: why does Hannah get all of the cool knits?

Hannah: Because I am a little princess, and also because you don’t share the toys!!

This is Hannah, signing off.

Happy Caturday everyone!!

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The pattern that I used is Grey Kitten Calico Cat by Claire Garland.
  • The yarn is a silk/merino/nylon blend by Noro called Tsubame. It is dk weight and I just knit the colors as they appeared in the ball as I worked. Mostly. I did throw out some green along the way.
  • My project page on Ravelry is here. Yeah, I was too lazy to write in any notes on the page.
  • I used the center quill of feathers to make the whiskers.
  • 5 of my 7 orchid plants are now blooming and they definitely deserve a knitted cat to hang out with them!!
  • Did you want to see the back of the cat? Here he is!
Doesn’t he look like a spring cat?

Finally out of hibernation: a new sweater is on the horizon…

I have been struggling somewhat at the start of the year. I am between knitting projects and good books. It has been snowing endlessly (12 storms since the first of December) and after shoveling I’m too tired to knit. I want to knit a sweater, but I’m still thinking that I should continue to destash. I could spend the coming year knitting socks, but somehow this isn’t appealing at the moment. I want to do some stranded colorwork, but I really should remove some of those projects that have been sitting in the corner thinking about where they went wrong and bring them back to life…

I have been knitting away on Hannah’s blanket again and now have 12 hexagons finished. (This pattern is the Nectar Blanket by Ysolde Teague.) I have a couple of other projects that I can work on, but meh…

This week, in a moment of reckless impulsiveness, I pulled a sweater that has been hibernating for over two decades out of the garage and took a good look at it. The fabric of the knitting is really cool, but somehow, I fell out of love with the colors and packed it away long ago. Now I like the colors again, but I’m clueless about what I was doing when I packed it away. There are simple but important questions like, where is the pattern, and what size was I making, and holy smokes, where exactly was I in the pattern when I stopped knitting…

Here’s the knitted fabric. Pretty cool, right? I debated just cutting this up and making a sewn teddy bear or pillow or something for a while…

I finally pulled myself together and took stock of what I had in the bin with the sweater.

I had the chart that I was working from, the color key that I made with the yarns that I was using, and some funky notes written on the chart…

I did more digging around until I located the book that the pattern came from. Oh, this is an Alice Starmore pattern published in 1995 that I bought a kit for some time after I bought the book. I put it away when I was working on my master’s degree, so this sweater has been in hibernation since at least 1998. Wow. This sweater has been in hibernation for so long it is almost fossilized. Anyway, here is the book.

I had this book with all my Alice Starmore books and it didn’t take too long to locate the sweater again.
The sweater is Rona.

Once I had the pattern again, I did some counting of stitches and used the chart to figure out where I was in the knitting. Oh my goodness, I was up at the neckline and there are 4 different steeks in this knitted wonder!! The front steek is now on standby, and I just have to worry about the sleeves and the one created to handle the neckline. The notes on the chart I was using actually are the count of the neckline decreases and I had the armhole steeks drawn onto the chart. I’m so glad that I still have the chart and the yarn key! Evidently this was size medium… the directions even began to make sense as I read them over a couple of times. I pulled myself together and knit a few rounds and it all came back to me fairly quickly; I was able to start adding tally marks to the chart to track the neckline decreases just as I had more than two decades ago.

I have all the balls of yarn organized again and I am back at the knitting with a purpose. I hope to have the body of the sweater off the needles in another week or so.
Mateo has been a good boy all week and has been hanging out with me while I knit.

Have a good week everyone!

Hannah and the CoalBear: Snow Bunny Caturday

Hi. I’m Mateo.

It’s my favorite day of the week. I get to go out first thing in the morning with the Orange Monster to check out things on the catio. We see birds, and squirrels and lots of fun things while we are out there. We also get our paws cold, but that’s okay, because if you want to play with the Orange Monster, you have to be willing to deal with little stuff like that!

You won’t believe what we saw today…

The backyard bunny was out in the garden! I mean, the bunny was RIGHT THERE at the side of the catio where the Orange Monster and I hang out in the mornings. The Mother of Cats has been feeding the bunny acorn squash (I know, right?! Why would she do something like that… but the bunny does eat it… thank heavens she isn’t giving it our TUNA!)

Personally, I think that acorn squash flavored bunny would be a little weird, but I was certainly willing to try it out. Nope. Darn chicken wire… there needs to be a FREE MATEO protest, right? Can you hear my big cat sigh? The bunny finally left and the Mother of Cats put some more ACORN SQUASH out for it.

Now we are back indoors knitting on the scarf thingy

while Hannah snoozes…

and we both dream of the backyard bunny.

Happy Caturday, everyone!!

Hasta la ByeBye, 2022: These were the Knits

I can’t believe that this has happened; I had just gotten used to writing 2022 and it is already over. I’ve been reflecting on the year and decided to talk about the yarn, the books, and the roses in separate posts. This one, of course, is about the knitting that went on last year.

First, the goals. I wanted to learn how to double knit: did it. I wanted to knit something using the Cocoknits method: did that too. I wanted to get at least 100 skeins of yarn out of the stash: absolutely did that too. Seriously, it was a pretty good year.

I knitted 6 sweaters. That’s a lot for me.

The top-down sweaters of 2022: these are Goldenfern, Emma, Salty Air Tee, Lace & Fade Boxy, Kevat, and Cushman. There was a lot of grey knitting going on last year so I’ve started out knitting a Simple Thing scarf thingy to wear with the neutral sweaters to give some color. I plan to make some wristers too, and I want to say that I am getting absolutely excellent knitting support from the CoalBear while I’m doing this.

Won’t those colors look nice on the grey sweaters?

Let’s see, what else did I knit… glances at Xcel spreadsheet… this year? I knit a bee. There was a pair of baby booties. I knit a lot of hats (33), even more PICC line covers (52) and 6 pairs of socks. I knit that cat paw sample of double knitting. I also knit one shawl that was a MKAL that sent Hannah on an adventure around the world chasing a worm that had stolen a priceless golden bag of cat treats from a museum in Cairo. Altogether, it was quite the year!

That bee is now hanging in my indoor orchid garden. The hats and PICC line covers all went to the Kaiser infusion centers in the Denver Metro area though an organization called Frayed Knots, and there is Hannah home from her adventures on Sharon Air.

After watching lots of YouTube videos and downloading a chart I found online I created the double-knit sample of… of course it is a cat paw!! I also got those baby booties done for the next-door neighbor who had a new arrival last April right before my surgery in May.

So that’s it. Whew. You didn’t want to see the socks, did you? I mean, they are all the same picture of the same pattern on the same feet knitting in different colors of blue and grey. I was pretty boring this year, so I feel that I should spare you those photos.

Here’s a picture of Hannah instead, because she is the cutest girl ever and that’s that!

I did mention that I got a lot of yarn out of the stash, right? Almost 120 skeins of yarn were culled from the stash and used up in knitted projects or donated to other knitters through Frayed Knots. Yay!

Time to buy more yarn!

Happy New Year, everyone.

The Scleroderma Chronicles: So, there was this flare…

Wow. It has been some time since I last posted. Ironically, the last post was about the Mother of Cats being broken. I felt really good, and I was casting on a plethora of projects and was all over the place with my knitting, reading, projects, you name it. Hannah was complaining in that post that I was broken, and that I wasn’t devoting myself to making her a blanket.

Then scleroderma lowered the boom on me. I went into a flare of epic proportions. I hurt all over, I struggled to do just simple tasks, I started sleeping 10-12 hours a day, and I had to go back onto daytime oxygen. I kept heat packs on my sore joints, but I really needed a total body heat pack to cope with what was going on: every single tendon in my body was under attack!! I couldn’t regulate my body temperature and took multiple naps a day because I was too cold to stay awake. I developed chest pain. My brain fog became so bad I wasn’t safe to drive anymore… Yep. Broken.

Okay, I also accidently drank some Miracle Gro fertilizer that I had stored in a Snapple bottle. That is some serious brain fog, people!! (Yes, I did have to call poison control, I did eat burnt toast and I did drink a lot of water, and I don’t want to talk about this anymore…) Yep. Broken.

I managed to get some knitting done in spite of my ill-behaved health. I got some wristers made as Christmas presents and sewed zippered pouches for my sister and cousin.

Wristers and a zippered project pouch.

Sewing was a riot as I had to get the sewing room organized so I didn’t have to stand up very much as I cut, sewed, and pressed fabric to make the bags, but with some creative thinking and furniture arrangements I pulled it off.

I also finished my Emma sweater. I made a hat. I made some socks. I made some slippers. Everything was on big needles and used heavy weight yarn as I got too tired to knit more than a few minutes at a time.

This sweater was knit using the CocoKnits method and I learned some new methods of shaping and finishing. The yarn was chunky weight and is warm and comfy. I got it done early in the flare and it was just perfect for the days to come. The yarn that was left over was used to make a hat and a pair of slippers.

I did read some nice books, but mostly I slept and waited this miserable thing out. In the weeks while I was mostly bedbound my orchids started to grew stems for future blossoms, the first snows arrived, and my son moved in with his cats.

This is handsome Jonesy. Hannah does not like Jonesy, so there is now a chicken wire barricade at the top of the stairs to keep the two groups of cats separated. My son also has a long-haired tuxedo cat who just doesn’t care about my cats. Hannah, however, has a complete meltdown if Jonesy comes near her, so… barricade.

Mateo: I love Jonesy and I go through the barricade every day to rough house with my new best bud while Hannah hangs out with the Mother of Cats. Jonesy is the wild playmate of my dreams!

So, I think that I am out of the flare now as the multiple naps a day have stopped, and my appetite is back. Yesterday we made lasagna for Christmas and here is the present that I got from my son:

Perfect, right?

Can you see my blue lips? The bad news is that the Blue-Lipped Zebra is back in full force. I finally emailed my cardiologist to let him know that I am once again panting for air and feeling light-headed from doing simple tasks like… lifting a pan out of the cupboard or grating cheese. Ugh. I’m pretty sure that I am heading back into the cath lab for another look at my pulmonary pressures, but right now I am glad to be back on my feet and out of the flare. My son is still here (he works from home, so he just moved his operation over to my house) and things are going well in the combined household.

Hannah: as long as Jonesy stays on his side of the barricade!! Also, maybe the Mother of Cats will now settle down and get my new blanket done!!