The Saturday Update: Week 28, 2021

The weekend was busy and I am running late, but there is so much going on I thought that I should get my update entry out there so that next week’s edition doesn’t grow to completely unmanageable proportions. It’s a plan, anyway.

I had appointments every single day last week, and two on Friday. I ran lots of errands while out of the house and by the time the weekend arrived I needed to do a little recovery. So what all happened? I bought a new refrigerator (!), made the arrangements for new fencing and a gate into my back yard along the side of the house, went to physical therapy, and met with my primary care physician. Whew! The Blue Lipped Zebra needs to write an update, but that’s another post. I also took Hannah in to visit the vet and get caught up on all of her shots.

Hannah: I don’t like adventures!

Hannah was so good at the vet. She took her shots like a champ and purred while they drew blood to test her for FIV. I insisted that I needed to stay with her during the blood draw and we got through it all with the minimum of upset for my girl. Whew! Then the pain and stiffness arrived. She growled if I tried to pick her up and wouldn’t even put weight on her front (vaccinated) paw for two days. Mateo, fully loaded with kitten energy and dying to rough house with his big sister, had to be distracted all weekend as Hannah hid out recovering from her vaccination reactions. Today Hannah is back up and the two cats are again chasing each other. Yay! Mateo goes for his shots next week…

Hannah wasn’t too sore to miss watching her baby bunny every day through the garden window. Mateo hung out with her when he was sleepy and is turning out to be the best little Hannah-companion ever. Except I’m pretty sure that he is going to be a lot bigger then Hannah when he is done growing!

Knitting

I finished Ranunculus!!

I am so, so, so happy with the final project!!

This is a pattern that is shockingly easy to modify and the pattern overtly support this. I tried to record what I did in my Ravelry notes as I’m pretty sure that I will be making another one of these. I’m exceptionally happy with the edging that I used on the bottom of the sweater and on the sleeves. I had cast off the sleeves while knitting (following the directions) and then decided that I wanted a better behaved edging that wouldn’t roll up my arm. I considered knitting Icord, but ended up stealing using the edging from a previous sweater, Misurina. I picked up stitches along the bound off sleeve edge and immediately launched into the edging: twisted stitch ribbing and then three rounds of stockinette before binding off to create the neatly rolled edging. The edging on the sleeve is stable and well behaved. I knitted a matching edging along the bottom of the sweater with a few more rows of the ribbing. Pretty awesome little sweater, don’t you think?

Today I wound the yarn to cast on my next little summer sweater. I’m getting into these little layering pieces that I can use on cooler summer days now and layered over long sleeved tops and under cardigans in the winter.

Garden

The weather has been exceptionally kind to the garden and the roses are just now starting to bust out with their second blooming of the season. This is kind of early and means that I may get a third blooming before the first hard freeze of the fall. I’m so pleased with the gardens in general. I always plant little bedding flowers hoping that they will reseed to create more plants in the coming years, but it doesn’t always work out for me. Except this year! I had planted miniature snapdragons two years ago that put out a couple of little volunteers last year that I took good care of. This year the garden, soaked every few days with another rainstorm, produced dozens of new snapdragons. Okay, these plants are all over the place and not just in the garden, but I’m going with Mother Nature and taking good care of them because I am now just plain charmed by the abundance of color.

The original snapdragons were a light orange/pink in color, but the second generation of offspring are in a whole range of colors from yellow to hot pink with all the shades of orange in between.

I pruned the roses in front last week and gave the plants a good feeding so there should be new growth coming in the days ahead. The roses in the back, fed a couple of weeks ago, are already blooming again. Stay away from the rose, baby bunny, you hear me?!

Books

I spent a lot of time reading this weekend recovering from the adventures out of the house last week (and protecting poor Hannah from the wild kitten!). I finished The Starless Sea, blazed right through The Last Thing He Told Me, and then jumped into The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

The Starless Sea is a rich, complicated book with multiple story threads that slowly emerge from other related stories. It relies on metaphors and imagination an awful lot, and I would have quit on it more than once expect for… it was so well written that I kept wanting to memorize little phrases to keep them with me always, or maybe rip out some pages to fold into little stars to hang somewhere, or buy some clothes with bees on them, or go dig through the pantry to find some clover honey… Truthfully, the author almost killed the book with her endless creativity, but in the end the story lines pulled together, things almost made sense, and I stayed up way too late to get to the end. I liked the end. Then I went online to look for some bee jewelry, but then I am a sucker for bees and stories.

The Last Thing He Told Me rolled right along in a simple, well-constructed story that kept me completely entertained throughout. The twists and turns in the story’s plot were plausible and not obvious, the connections to the characters were perfect, and I quite frankly loved it. Perfect book to read following the brain-frying twists of The Starless Sea.

Then I picked up The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Hey, can you see how beautiful that cover is? It has hanging keys and doors: these are big elements of The Starless Sea. I’m only a few chapters in, but already I’m captured by the story…

Have a great week everyone.

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Week 27, 2021

May I present to you Mateo the CoalBear.

He’s a matte black fluffy ball of cuteness that comes to life at night. I wanted to call him Bear, but that is too doggy-like. Coal is so… obvious. Therefore he is a CoalBear.

Mateo is a really laid back kitten with a cute trill, a peeping meow, and a big purr. He is eating his kitten food like a bottomless pit, ignores the plants, is not at all interested in my knitting, uses the scratching posts like a good boy, sleeps under the bed at night, and meows when he wants to be fed. Oh, and he loves Hannah.

In other words, he is perfect!!

The week has gone really well between the two felines. Hannah is now very attached to the kitten and calls for him to come play with her. They wrestle and chase each other endlessly with few problems. Each cat has zones where they can escape from the other and so far things are going smoothly, but I am still keeping part of the house closed off and kitten proofing-like crazy. Right now Hannah has the upper hand but the way the kitten is eating the tide will be turning soon.

Knitting

I’ve been steadily knitting along on my Ranunculus and it is now below my waist. I’m considering options for how to finish the bottom at this point as I knit. The pattern calls for several inches of ribbing, but I want to continue the stockinette until the last couple of inches and then maybe add I-cord or a combination of twisted rib and then a few rows of stockinette to create a clean rolled edge. The sleeves were bound off earlier but I may cast on and replicate the finish on the bottom. I-cord will be easy, but I kind of like the idea of twisted ribbing…

This pattern is very adaptable and easy to knit. I am knitting with fingering yarn on size 8 needles and have chosen the smaller neck opening and short sleeved options.

Garden

Things are looking good in the garden this week! I still have the baby bunny and he is slowly cleaning me out of dandelions. Yay!

Books

I have totally gone down the rabbit hole with this book!

This is a book that makes you think of a lot of other books while you are chasing stories that seem to be interconnected to other stories that are books inside of books. I love this book, but I am still hoping to understand what it going on. There are keys, swords, bees, characters who knit, magic, and stories that are kind of magical. There are lots of doors to open and pass through to get to the stories, and of course there are books, books, books! I want to highlight lines in this book and hunt down other people to talk about it with. Lucky for me my niece in California (that knitworthy one!) is also reading the book.

Did I mention that some of the characters are knitters? And that the first line in the book is… “There is a pirate in the basement.” I keep remembering little snippets of The Princess Bride, and the Harry Potter books, and The Game of Thrones books as I read. I want a necklace with a little bee on it… and a key… but I want a star instead of the sword. I’m having fun with the book and it certainly is enchanting to read.

Have a great week everyone.

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Week 26, 2021

I’m not going to share much this week because… this happened.

This little bundle of charcoal fluffy cuteness came home with me this week!

He still doesn’t have a name and has spent the last two days stuffed under a couch hiding from the world in the spare bedroom.

Hannah was totally, like… YOU DID WHAT?!!

There was some hissing and growling that came out of the little Hannah princess. I thought that things would go better, but evidently not. I scrambled to get the spare bedroom kitten proofed and all of the plants in the indoor garden moved to the outdoors or some other suitable location away from kittens. The kitten meanwhile vanished and I spent a few hours hunting for him in the house since I couldn’t find him in his room. Hannah shadowed me all though the search as I started to get more and more concerned about the vanished kitten.

He was in the spare bedroom all along crammed underneath a cabinet through a gap in the back of the paneling.

Finally after midnight all was settled down and the kitten was exploring his new room.

Hannah wasn’t taking any chances and slept high on the bookshelf in my room.

Hannah: Best to be safe… he can’t get me up here!

The downside of the bookshelf is that she leaps from the shelf to my bed to get down… and then she slept on top of me when she wasn’t on the shelf.

This is going to be a rough couple of days…

Have a great week everyone.

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

PS: the Mando mitts that I knit for my niece safely arrived in California.

This is the picture that my niece sent me. So knitworthy, my niece!!

The Saturday Update: Week 24

June continues to misbehave: we had three days above 100 degrees Fahrenheit this week and several severe thunderstorms with tornados! My arm is still swollen and painful but the numbness is starting to improve; as if in solidarity one of my knees started to complain just today. Sigh. Knock it off, you guys! My new refrigerator came today and I am so happy to have dependable food storage again. Besides, it is just beautiful and shiney! The flowers in the garden are starting to bloom and the roses in particular are looking mighty fine. I have started to knit again every night and I also found some interesting books to read. I bought new glasses and ordered a bunch of fun stuff from Amazon. (Do I need purple and gold washi tape for my journal? Why yes, yes I do. I also got pink and gold replacement bands for my Fitbit and a pair of pink/grey comfy pants.) I went to the yarn store and bought more yarn… that may have not been wise, but I want to believe that I will return to full knitting capacity soon. 🙂 Okay, June isn’t being all bad… it was Hannah’s one year adoption anniversary this week.

Hannah on the 15th (her adoption anniversary date) and little kitten Hannah on the day I brought her home last year. I tried to recreate the picture from her first day home but she wasn’t all that interested and I was lucky to get the shot that I did. To celebrate her anniversary she got crispy pink paper to play in (that is always a big hit with her) and some bows to drag around. Last night I applied to adopt a kitten companion for her from the Cat Care Society and today they called me to approve the request and put us on the list for kitten alerts. Hannah was adopted from this shelter and they consider it a priority to get her a little friend. Yay!

I’ve requested a male, orange tabby kitten. We’ll see what happens. Hannah can’t wait.

Knitting

I’m working steadily on the mitts for my knitworthy niece who is a huge fan of all things Mandalorian. I am now up to the fingers of the second mitt.

Aren’t these the cutest things ever?

I need to do some duplicate stitch detail work and then there are all of the ends to weave in, but the end is definitely in sight now. I’m almost tempted to make a second pair but I have soooo many sweaters and other projects that I need to get done. This pattern is Mando (Natela Astakhova).

Garden

The roses are blooming! The roses are blooming! The roses are blooming!

From left to right, these roses are Hot Cocoa, Princess Alexandra of Kent, Cinco de Mayo, and Home Run. We had lots of rain this spring and I have been watering every day since then; this is the best crop of roses I’ve had in quite a while. I really was responsible this time with the roses as I covered them with frost clothes if there was even a chance of a hard freeze and I fertilized them early in the spring. This week they got more fertilizer and they are all looking good with lots of buds on the plants still waiting to bloom. Yay, garden!!

Books

I have two books going right now; one is text and the other is an audiobook. They both are really holding my interest and curiously they even look similar.

How crazy is it to be reading icy blue books when trapped in an heat wave. I’m only half way through The Doors of Eden and even less with The Cold Millions, but both books are thought provoking and really interesting.

And that’s all I’m going to say about them right now. 🙂

Have a great week everyone.

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

Scleroderma Update: My rheumatologist had my hands x-rayed this week and I have severe arthritis in both of them, but especially the one that is now acting up. I was kind of surprised and I’m hoping that they can do something to help with the swelling and numbness. My echocardiogram results also came back and I do have a hole in my heart, but an email came from my pulmonologist yesterday saying that it isn’t big enough to account for the whole panting/blue lips thing and he wants to do some more testing. Fun. We have an appointment next week.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 22 and 23

I’m going to be honest here: June has been really challenging so far. My entire right arm is numb and in pain and there isn’t much knitting going on. My appointment book is completely filled up with medical appointments and the bruises are collecting at an alarming rate; did I mention that June is Scleroderma Awareness Month? Yep. I’m aware. Scleroderma has gone into overdrive this month. Gee, if it wanted more attention it should have just asked!

In solidarity with scleroderma there have been other disasters this month. The car that was bringing me home from GI testing this week developed engine trouble (I ended up in an Uber, hopped up on drugs, leaking fluids from an unmentionable part of my nether region… best ride across town ever!) My refrigerator started shrieking in the night as one of the fans failed putting my stash of cheese at risk (yes, I have seriously cornered the market in… cheese). Oh, did I mention that I also had a scary close encounter with my neighbor’s pit bull? Seriously, it has been challenging to do anything except deal with all of this stuff. On the other hand, I have handled things; a new refrigerator is coming (I must save the cheese!), my neighbor has implemented more safeguards to contain her dog, and I have learned how to use Uber!! I’ve completed physical therapy and am walking much better. The car that broke down was repaired at little cost. My arm is in a brace but I am rocking voice-to-text on my phone. I’m knitting again… slowly.

Still, I am warning you, June, knock it off!! I have knitting and stuff to do.

Hannah: June would be a great time to get me a little kitten companion!!

Knitting

I finished my Noncho (Sharon from Security and Casapinka) this week. What a nice, versatile addition to my wardrobe this will be. I also made some progress on a sock but really the big accomplishment this week has been the Noncho. My project notes on Ravelry are here.

Garden

It’s gotten hot and the garden has taken off. I’ve been weeding steadily and it is really exciting to find flourishing plants and emerging flower buds. Look at what is going on right now:

Seriously, the garden is starting to explode with color. My rose plants are covered with buds and the main show is going to start in just a few more days. We had so much rain earlier this year the rose bushes grew really well and things are looking good. Okay, June is picking up a little.

Books

I’m enjoying The Cold Millions while I work on my second sock. So far it is pretty good and applicable to economic issues that we are dealing with today in the US.

Have a great week everyone.

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

PS: The gastroenterologist told me that I can’t eat cheese any more. Or chocolate. Or caffeine. Or carbonated drinks. Alcohol is absolutely forbidden.

I’m pretending that I didn’t hear that part about the cheese.

The Saturday Update: Week 21

Here it is Memorial Day weekend and it is cold and raining outside. Hannah and I have been hanging out indoors knitting, reading a book, and cleaning the stash. Oh, boy. There sure is a lot of yarn in the stash… let’s talk about that another day. Good thing it is raining, because I have a lot of knitting to do!

Hannah has been snoozing while I knit.

It is going to rain again tomorrow and when this is all over the outside gardens and lawn will be looking great. In the meantime, I have lots to keep me busy indoors.

Knitting

I finished up the first of the assigned pooling socks that I’m working on.

I had a skein of yarn from Chasing Rabbits Fiber Co. in the Colorful Yarns colorway designed for my favorite LYS, Colorful Yarns. The skein is mostly grey with short rainbow strips that are about 1/6 of the length of the skein. I started knitting the yarn in my usual ribbed sock pattern and was not happy with the way the colors were just stacking on top of each other. I ripped the sock out and started again with a K2P2 ribbed section at the top of the sock with smooth stockinette after that. I purled the rainbow sections when I came to them and threw in random PSS stitches in the rainbow purl strips in an effort to create some randomness in the colored sections on the sock. You can see in my second picture that I put in 1-3 PSS bumps into the purled/color strips or sometimes didn’t add a PSS at all.

What is PSS? It’s a stitch that I learned while knitting The Sharon Show in section 21 (called Catnip Garden) that is simple, added a little bump to the knitting and was sure to alter the length of the rainbow strips. Basically you purl two stitches together but leave them on the left needle. You then knit the same two stitches together, and then purl them together again before you pull them to the right needle: three stitches are made from two. You then pass the middle of these three stitches over the stitch next to it (closest to the tip) and there is the bump! If that doesn’t make sense, here is a swell video to show the stitch. On the next round I slipped the two stitches from the PSS and then finally knitted them on the next round after that. You can see the little colored slipped stitches below the purled sections in my second picture. I knit the sock from the top down; if you knit one from the toe up the little colored stitches will be above the purled sections. (Hint: because of the slipped stitches put a purl or two between PSS stitches.)

Once I got through the heel section I stopped inserting the PSS stitches in the knitting on the foot of the sock: I purled on the top of the foot while sticking to smooth stockinette on the bottom of the sock (3rd picture). I lost some of the randomness in the line up of the colored strips but that part of the sock will be in my shoe so I’m good with it. The final picture shows the finished sock with its contrast heel and toe; kind of wish now that I had make the top ribbing that hot pink too. I’m now working on the second sock now and should eventually get the pair completed.

The other knitting that is still going on is the Noncho (Casapinka) that I kind of wish was already done because it is cool with all of the rain… Hannah has been a great help.

Garden

It is raining outside!! Here are the cool pictures from the week of my indoor plants.

I’ve taken to spraying my African violets every week and they seem to like it. The leaves have lifted up and the plants are blooming like crazy. Not what I expected to happen, but the plants are responding so well I spray them down weekly now.

Books

I finished Wanderers today.

I was struggling with this book a little and wasn’t sure if I would complete it because… almost 700 pages! I don’t know how much I should say because of spoilers, but the plot involves sleepwalkers who are unresponsive to any efforts to wake them up. They never eat, never stop walking, and it is impossible to get a needle into them to draw blood. “Maybe they have scleroderma,” hypothesizes the CDC personnel attempting to understand what is happening with this flock of wanderers. Scleroderma! They had me at scleroderma. I kept reading.

Of course the wanderers don’t have scleroderma. This book is big, complicated, and pulls in lots of situational elements that are obviously based on actual people and events in the US. Amazingly, the book, which was published in mid-2019, also features a pandemic. I remember looking at the book when it was first published during those happy days when I could just head off to the book store to meet my friends; now things are changed and the impact of the book was that much more. I did like the book, but then I’m a biogeek who reads books about the CDC and outbreaks even before it became our lives.

Have a great week everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 19 and 20

The last two weeks have been busy, but not all that productive in the crafting/gardening/reading departments. I’m still busy going to appointments, doing my physical therapy (hey, I have graduated from the walker!!), and putting my yard and gardens back into order. Somewhere during the last two weeks the CDC here in the US changed their recommendations on mask wearing and then my state also lifted the mask mandate in most situations. Evidently we are now going to rely on the honor system to protect people at risk from other people who are unvaccinated and unmasked. Oh, dear. I have been pulling weeds and considering my options…

Late one afternoon I hurried and pruned my roses in the rain so I could get frost cloths over them to protect the new shoots from an overnight hard freeze. The resident bunny, all alone since the Great Horned owl caught his mate, joined me in the rain as I worked. It’s been that kind of week.

So here is my dilemma: what is a seriously compromised individual on immunosuppressant therapy to do? I hit the internet, of course.

As luck would have it, Science Magazine (the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) recently published an article reporting out on the current data from several studies on this very issue. As it turns out, there are some immunosuppressant drugs that are seriously impacting the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines, and one of those drugs, mycophenolate, is of particular concern. Rats!! I’m taking that drug to control my scleroderma. I stopped reading the article when I got to the part about only 9% of patients on mycophenolate produced antibodies to the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Gosh darn it, I was vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. I wrote an email to my doctor and requested an antibody test to see if I was producing anti-Covid-19 antibodies. Late that afternoon I got a note from her nurse letting me know that I could just make the appointment online and go get the test on my own. I immediately did that and scored an appointment across town at a clinic that I could just make that evening if I jumped into the car and drove really, really fast…

So I drove across the Denver Metro area like a bat out of hell with the prevailing traffic flow and arrived at the clinic with 10 minutes to spare. Yay! Um… why is the parking lot so empty?

The clinic closed 20 minutes before the appointment; there was a goof in the scheduling system. I called my health provider from the parking lot and made sure my test request would transfer to another clinic and/or time and then sadly drove off. I bought myself chocolate on the way home. Why is everything so hard?

Thank heavens there is Hannah to balance out the little bumps in life. 🙂

The next day I got the test done after another drive across town and also heard back from my doctor. She recommended that I return to strict isolation because 1) the mask mandates had been lifted and 2) there was a strong chance that I wasn’t protected from Covid-19 no matter what the antibody test result was. Later in the day an email arrived carrying a letter from the Scleroderma Foundation that advised that I and other patients in my situation continue to wear masks and practice common sense safety measures including limiting contacts. Darn. When will this ever end? I’m starting to feel a little picked on here…

The next morning the antibody test result arrived: I have antibodies!!! Yay! About time I was cut a break, don’t you think? I’ll still be wearing a mask and will be really careful, but I think that I am safe to continue to go to appointments and the occasional book store or yarn shop.

Do you see why I’m not getting a lot of stuff done? All of this driving and decision making is just exhausting.

Knitting

The great thing about physical therapy is that you get better. You get to take afternoon breaks with hot packs on your sore muscles. The bad part about physical therapy is that, for some reason, the inflammation associated with building up muscles and loosening my bad boy tendons (I’m finally rehabilitating from a ruptured tendon in my hip) makes my joints misbehave. My hands especially have decided that they want to be babied and they definitely don’t want to knit. Still, I have made a little progress over the last two weeks:

My Noncho (Casapinka) is finally starting to take shape. The simple stockinette knitting in the round is easy on my hands and I can’t wait to get it done so I can wear it in cool offices during appointments. My socks, which are a take on assigned pooling knitting, are more adventurous with the texture stitches and the purl sections not to mention turning that heel and picking up stitches. Still, I am getting somehere with them. I’m inventing the socks as I go and will take time to explain what I did then they are done, but right now I’m just enjoying the fun of an adventurous bit of knitting fun. Don’t those socks make you happy just looking at them?!

Garden

The weather has totally been messing with us the last two weeks. It has rained… at lot. We have had snow followed by really warm sunny days. The the windy days arrived late this week to knock the new plants around under cloudy skies that threatened severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Ugh! I am getting lots of weeds pulled, new bedding plants planted, and sections of the lawn reseeded. Really, I have been working, but all I really have to show for my time is…

Hannah and her hydrangea plant that I pulled inside for a couple of days (hard freeze warning). Hannah thought that the plant was for her and was really involved with it for the couple days that she had it. Sorry Hannah. Hydrangeas need to live outside.

Books

I just started this book. Anyone have any feedback on whether I should keep going?

I was really excited about rejoining my book club next week for their meeting about Wanderers. Nope. Guess that isn’t happening as they are meeting at an indoors restaurant and the Covid-19 restrictions are now lifted so dining capacity is back up to 100%. This is a big, heavy book. It hurts my hands to hold it. If it doesn’t get really compelling really quickly it is going back to the library.

Anyone have a book recommendation?

Have a great week everyone.

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Weeks 17 and 18

Life has just been kicking my butt for the last few weeks. I have been insanely busy and struggling with my health. I need to write a whole different post (from the Blue-Lipped Zebra) to talk about what’s happening, but the short version is… we are closing in on the cause of my blue-faced breathlessness and physical therapy is a good thing, but it sure does hurt!! The weather has just been absolutely crazy here; snow, then warm days into high 80’s, followed by days of rain and another winter storm warning has just been posted for the next couple of days. Tonight there is some debate about snow… all the potted plants on the deck need to move into the garage for the night AGAIN. In spite of the weather I managed to repot lots of plants, weed and clear gardens, and also got some yard work done this week. I filed my taxes and cleaned out the office. Anyway, all of this is to explain whine about why there was very little reading or knitting going on…

So I really didn’t do a lot of stuff to blog about, but I captured some good photos during the two weeks.

With all of the crazy weather and cold snaps I thought that we may have missed the the majority of spring blooms. Nope! This week the color exploded in trees everywhere and they are looking good! Other trees in the neighborhood are full of squirrels; there are baby squirrels bouncing around in the tree in my front yard and Hannah is just over the moon with the excitement of watching them. The phlox in the front is now blooming and yesterday the buds on my trees suddenly burst open (just in time for that snow tonight… sigh). Best of all is the pair of geese that are settling down to nest at my local library. I just love Canada geese! Why look at that… spring really has arrived!!

We’ll just ignore the winter storm warning for today and Tuesday…

Knitting

I started a couple of new projects but they are still at the very early, kind of pathetic looking, stage. The project on the left is the beginnings of my Noncho (Casapinka) that is going to be a perfect layering piece for me in the cool evenings. I’m thinking that I should have some matching arms warmers too, don’t you think? The scrap of knitting on the right is the beginning of my Ranunculus (Midori Hirose). Someday it will look wonderful but it still has a way to go. I am also working along on some mitts and a pair of socks, but they are making little progress at the moment. As soon as life settles down some I’ll get more done.

Garden

Isn’t that squirrel on the base of my front ash tree cute? He is cute, but he is one of the many squirrels living in my next door neighbor’s tree. This tree, a Russian olive, is a cautionary tale of the unintended consequences of introducing species to new habitats. I guess this tree does just fine in Europe, but here in my region of North America (the state of Colorado in the US) it is classified as an invasive species. Basically a huge weed, this tree reproduces all over the neighborhood as baby trees appear everywhere, and if not removed the trees clog waterways and cause havoc in general. Part of the problem is… squirrels! The tree produces berries that the squirrels love to eat and the branches are just perfect for them to build their nests in. Even better, they are able to pull long strips of bark off the trunk to use as nesting material; the perfect home, this tree has eight squirrel nests in it!! My ash tree is within convenient jumping distance to the olive tree and serves as a perfect link in Squirrel Route One as the squirrels travel overland through trees, across roofs, and down fences providing Hannah hours of entertainment as she watches them. The squirrels carry olive fruits to far flung locations and bury them, and other bits of food that they come by, EVERYWHERE! The ground around my ash tree is all dug up with the squirrel caches and I have to pull up seedlings each year. Right now I have mothballs on the disturbed soil to discourage digging but I decided to sprinkle some Critter Ridder onto the soil to continue to discourage the little guys from digging. I headed off to my local Home Depot to get some, and… came home with the rose and the hydrangea instead. What can I say? As soon as I saw those hot, bright colors I just had to have them and all thoughts of pesky squirrels just flew out of my mind. That rose is just as bright as the picture seems and is called an Autumn Sunblaze. It is a miniature rose and I plan to keep it in a pot on the deck until fall. The hydrangea is a wonderful hot pink that I’ve never seen before, so… into the cart it went! The colors make me happy and I think even the squirrels are excited about the new plants as I’ve caught them checking them out on the deck. (They were probably looking to see if they could dig in the soil to cache some purloined garbage pickings from the neighbors, but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here…)

I still went back to Home Depot for some grass seed and the Critter Ridder the next day. Squirrels are cute, but they need to stop digging up my lawn!

Also, I noticed some other colors of Sunblaze roses that I want to look for. There is a dusty pink variety…

Books

I finished the Wayfarers series over these last two weeks. These are great books; interesting and thought provoking. They are rather slowly paced, but worth the time as the story slowly evolves with the characters as they confront their situations, assumed truths, and make changes in their perceived identities and courses of action. These are not adventure books, but rather social commentaries for our own time contained within futuristic settings where individuals from wildly different cultures, body types, and evolutionary pathways interact with each other. Good stuff for those who relish that type of book.

Have a great week, everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

The Saturday Update: Week 16, 2021

What a week it has been! I managed to get to 4 medical appointments on 4 different days which used up a lot of my available energy and time, but now that I’m vaccinated I have turned the Blue-Lipped Zebra loose again and it is absolutely determined to get to the bottom of what is going on! (What is going on, you ask? Check out these posts from the BLZ before it went quiet in lockdown: The Blue-Lipped Zebra Report! and The Blue-Lipped Zebra Goes on Oxygen.) This week I met my new pulmonologist, got some lung testing, saw the orthopedist, and started physical therapy for my hip. Whew. It was a rough week with lots of exhausting recoveries but also some great knitting action. Anyway, the BLZ is getting ready for some blogging updates and hopes to share what’s up soon.

In the meantime, here’s all the great stuff that was going on this week:

Knitting

Right after the start of the year I lost control and cast on lots of projects. You know, if you cast them on you have to do them, right? My head was just swimming with ideas and I want to make sure that everything was captured in yarn right away before I was distracted by the latest great potential project on Ravelry. A very dangerous place for people with huge yarn stashes, Ravelry… I’ve been steadily working on all of the projects depending on my mood and interests for weeks; this week several projects finished up at once.

My Goldwing is finished!! We had several rounds of snow over the last two weeks so I buckled down and knitted myself right off of sleeve island in just a few days to get to the final wearable product. There I am wearing it on its first outing to my pulmonologist’s office. Hey, they left me alone in a room with a full length mirror on the door with my new sweater? How could I let an opportunity like that slide by? I made some minor alterations to the pattern as I worked so that the sleeves and the body would be almost the same length and also used a smaller needle then the pattern called for in the sleeve colorwork because I wanted the sleeves to be wrist huggers. The end result was the perfect project to wear on a snowy drive across town. Here’s my notes on Ravelry.

This shawl is Age of Gold by Joji Locatelli; a simple garter stitch shawl that is easy to knit, has good coverage, and sports a showy lace edging. I *loved* this yarn when I bought it, but fell out of love while working on it sometime in February. Ugh. Light blue. What was I thinking. Maybe I was struggling with cold-induced depression, but I was not motivated to work on it at all. Then I realized a couple of weeks ago that it is exactly the color that my grandniece loves, took it back out, and got it finished off to gift to someone who will give it a great home.

The first mitt is done of the Mando mitt set. I’m making these for my exceptionally knitworthy niece who loves The Mandolorian. Of course, in my family I was immediately informed that the little green guy is named Grogew; the left hand mitt does feature Mando. Since I am mailing the shawl to California to my grandniece and think I should get these mitts done and mailed off to her mother in the same box, don’t you?! These mitts have been pretty darn challenging and I plan to post more about the journey later on when I get the second mitt done.

In the middle of the week my favorite LYS posted a message about having all of the assigned pooling yarns in stock. What is this, I wondered and went to Chasing Rabbits Fiber Co. to check it out. Oh, this is knitting designed to make use of skeins that are mostly one color with a section of another color inserted into it that is about 1/4 of the length or so. Chasing Rabbits is developing patterns to make use of the yarn with clever treatments of the color sections that are intriguing; in short, there is a specific stitch or treatment assigned to the short color strip. Here I was knitting some socks with yarn like that from Chasing Rabbits that were… boring and unimaginative (picture on the right). I ripped my sock out and reknit it with an assigned pooling idea that I would purl the colored sections and leave the grey knitted. The other idea that I had was to do something to force the color sections of knitted fabric to be more random so I threw in random PSS stitches to add some fun and change the length of the color sections. I learned the PSS stitch while knitting The Sharon Show in the section called “Catnip Garden” so these are obviously the Rainbow Catnip Garden socks. I’m thinking of using a bright pink yarn for the heels and toes so I can make two pairs of these!!

Gardening

Things are stalled outside because of the never-ending march of snow storms, but all is well inside. My orchids are in a second bloom that is making things really cheerful in the craft room.

The photo on the far right is of my monster orchid last year as CosmicKnitter asked me to show my orchid set-up and this picture did a good job of it. I like to keep the orchids in pots that “breathe” like unfired clay; I prefer the ones with holes in them but they are getting hard to find. It is dry here in Colorado so I keep water below the orchids with the pots suspended above the water on pebbles if the tray isn’t already designed with channels that keep the pot above the water. Anyway, the orchids seem to like the extra humidity and they are putting out more blooms this spring.

Books

I put off writing this post for a day hoping that I would get to the end of the book that I’m currently listening to while I knit: Hamnet. I still have three hours to go so I’m not there yet… but this is quite the book so I’m going to talk about it now anyway.

We learn right away that this is a book about a young boy, an only son, named Hamnet, who dies of the plague. Two years later his father writes a play called Hamlet.

So this is a book about Shakespeare and his family. Oh, that can’t be all that intimidating to write, right? I mean… Shakespeare. Did you every wonder what type of environment produced the man who had such an impact in his field and on his actual language that hundreds of years later we still celebrate his work?

I mean, if you write about this you need to make it kind of believable, and this book does that for me. It is mostly about Shakespeare’s wife, a gifted misfit with an eerie insight into the natural world, people, and the environments around her. The language is rich and descriptive, the story slow in the enfolding, and the events cling to me through my day. Shakespeare wasn’t alone in his extreme giftedness; at the heart of it was his wife Agnes and his children who provided the essential context to his life. Through chance these two found each other and the rest is quite literally history. Shakespeare’s wasn’t an easy life; he did not have a happy childhood and was basically viewed as a failure by traditional standards until he found his niche in London. How hard it is for those among us who view the world through a different colored lens and hear the sounds of music that no one else notices: this is Agnes and her husband. These people, some of whom were in my classroom or even my coworkers, can be viewed as “slow”, “underachievers”, or “at-risk” when the actual truth is they are processing information and viewing the world much deeper than we are. They don’t respond well to the usual pressures and deadlines, but what they produce when they are ready to show their work can be remarkable. The author captures this so well in the book; misfits and geniuses, aware of everything, and yet, oblivious to the obvious. Agnes and her husband.

The world in this book, so far from us in time, is also strangely familiar as international travel and the trade in goods has brought a deadly disease to Stratford on Avon. Shakespeare is hard to locate when illness breaks out because the theaters in London are shut down for plague season and they have taken the show on the road. There are strict rules about burial because… plague. The doctor wears a… mask. There are misunderstandings and lots of misinformation including bogus cures (as in… use this toad).

Well, that’s it. I need to finish the book because it continues to haunt me. Maybe I can get that second Mando mitt started while listening to it this evening.

Have a great week, everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.

PS: I got my degree in biology. I am a biogeek!! Please forgive me it I botched anything about Shakespeare…

The Saturday Update: Weeks 14 and 15, 2021

Guest Writer: Hannah the Magnificent

The Kitten Mom made me this new playground during one of her short times out of bed. Don’t you think that she should paint it hot pink for me?

The Kitten Mom is being lazy and staying in bed to read a book today so I’m just going to step in here to tell you about the last two weeks. The Kitten Mom just keeps going out of the house on errands (leaving me alone!!) and then when she comes home she just sleeps and acts super boring. I need her to play with me!! I love her to use the laser light, and to throw little toys for me to chase, or to just run around the house a lot so I can gallop along with her, but NOOOOO she just reads books and sleeps when she comes home. Still, we did do some fun stuff this week so I’ll tell you all about that stuff, okay?

Garden

It is snowing outside, like almost every single day. The Kitten Mom did go outside to mess with the plants out there while I watched in the window, but she mostly just covered all of her plants with boxes and bags because they were getting cold white stuff all over them.

See what I’m talking about?

We did work in the indoor garden this week because the Kitten Mom decided to move a bunch of orchids from one pot to another one. What is up with that?? Most of the plants have finished blooming so maybe she was trying to make them happy again… I don’t understand why she did this, but I did have a lot of fun playing with the wood chips and the pots, and then there was the WATER! I really love water.

The Kitten Mom moved the plants into bigger pots with this damp wood chip stuff around them. Now she has so many plants on the shelves under the lights that there is almost no room for me anymore. Almost. I mange to squeeze myself in there anyway and it is kind of fun because the Kitten Mom always rushes over to pay attention to me when I do it…

Knitting

I have sleeping on the bed with the Kitten Mom every single evening while she knits on stuff. I like to chew on the the yarn, but she doesn’t like that too much. I also like to groom the knitted stuff until it gets soft and fuzzy, but she kind of gets really excited and takes stuff away from me when I do that so mostly I don’t do it any more. Mostly.

We have really made a lot of progress on her new purple sweater. She is now finishing up the last sleeve and I like this project because it is perfect to sleep on. Except she keeps moving it around a little too much for me to get completely comfy…

It is better when she knits socks because then I can sleep right on her nap without purple knitted stuff hitting me all of the time.

Books

What can I say. The Kitten Mom reads a lot and I like that when I want to sleep too, but it gets a little old when it is time to get up and PLAY for awhile. What is crazy is the Kitten Mom listening to books while she knits. So strange. At least when she is reading I can sleep on top of her, but this knitting and reading thing is kind of weird if you ask me. I bring toys to her to play with, but nope. She mostly just reads.

She thinks that this book is really wonderful!

The Kitten Mom finished that book in the picture this week and I thought that she would get up to play with me, but nope, that did not happen. She immediately bought the sequel to the book and went back to reading. She didn’t even start up my laser light for me before starting the new book!

Now it is almost evening and that means that it is time for me to get my tuna dinner!! I like my dinner almost as much as playing, so this is a great time of the day. Then the Kitten Mom and I will be back to knitting and reading and maybe a little nap or two. I love the Kitten Mom.

Maybe we will play a little after our after-dinner nap.

Notes from the Kitten Mom:

  • I’ve gotten both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and have started making more trips out of the house including shopping trips. I got my hair cut, people!! I’m also getting all of the medical testing that was put on pause a year ago finally done. It is so good to get out there again, but exhausting. Hannah is so thrilled when I get home she just flings herself down on the ground in front of me and wiggles around in joy. Then we get cookies. What a perfect pandemic companion this little kitten has turned out to be!!
  • The sweater is Goldwing by Jennifer Steingass. I’m now finishing up the second sleeve and hope to wear it next week in the next round of snow storms.
  • I have gotten several new orchids in the last few months and decided to repot them now that they are (mostly) done with blooming. I use a mixture of wood chips and sphagnum moss for my potting soil since I live in a pretty dry climate, and mostly my orchids do well after I move them to new pots with this new soil around them.
  • There has been a sting of weather systems crossing the state that bring with them snow for the plants outside and trouble for me. Good thing I had the whole series of The Murderbot Diaries to read to keep myself entertained. I love these books!! I checked them out of the library but now I’m thinking that I should just buy them because I will be reading these books again!
  • The sequel to A Memory Called Empire is the book A Desolation Called Peace. These are really good books; rich characters, complex political intrigue, beautiful writing, spaceships, and cultural dynamics that are an echo of the series of books about the Roman occupation of Britannia that I read earlier this year. I have just arrived at the part of the book where we get to meet… aboreal, water loving kittens. And aliens. Of course. This is space opera, after all.
  • I have to take Hannah to the vet for a checkup and her shots…

Have a great week, everyone!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.