WIP Wednesday: Socks, Mitts and a Shawl

Yep, it is cold out there. I was thrilled that the driveway finally melted dry yesterday only to discover it covered with an inch of snow on top of a bulletproof layer of ice this morning. The trees had inch long hoar frost! Beautiful, but a little dicey taking the trash cans to the bottom of that driveway.

What a great day to knit. I decided that I absolutely needed to try to make a lace mitt on cable needles, so risking my life on the driveway I headed out to the LYS briefly to get two 2.25 mm red lace ChiaoGoo cable needles. I scored 16″ needles and headed home (with a side trip to IKEA on the way back to score some cinnamon rolls…) to cast on.

Yarn and Needles
It’s a start! I am tired of my mitts falling off the double pointed needles so I am going to try to make a pair using 2 small cable needles. Right now it is really confusing…

OK, it’s only the start, but they make me happy. The yarn is La Jolla by Baah Yarn. I once lived and worked in La Jolla (California), so it makes me really happy to knit this yarn. To make it even better, the colorway, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is a special dye job for the owner of Colorful Yarns.  Can you tell Tiffany’s favorite color is purple?

Socks
The end is in sight. I need to stop going on knitting detours and get these done!

Now that I have cast on a mitt and gotten far enough along to see how to do it, I need to get back to the socks that I am working on right now. I’m almost down to the heel flap on the second sock, so I really do need to buckle down and get them done over the next couple of days as there is more snow coming at the end of the week. Woo-hoo! Knitting weather!

Knitting
This yarn is 20% cashmere. It sure would be nice and warm to wear.

There is one more project that is slowly chugging along. It is a small shawl that I started during a trip in the car over the holidays. It’s mostly garter stitch, so it is an easy knit. Now that the new season has started on television perhaps I will get it cranked out in the next two weeks, too. No promises, as I am also itching to get started on my New Year’s resolution January sock. I’m looking at a skein of red yarn in my stash and thinking how nice it would look on my knitting needles… The red would go really nicely with my fabulous Hitchhiker shawl…

Sock pattern: Chouwa by Judy Sumner (in the book Knitted Socks East and West) Sock yarn: Hedgehog Fibres Sock, colorway Malice.

Shawl pattern: 3S Shawl by Amy Meade. Yarn: Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20

Resolutions for 2015

Well, this is it. There are only a couple of hours left for the year. The end of a really busy year, and I have no idea what exactly was  accomplished over the last 12 months. Well, I did read a lot of books and did a lot of knitting, but since I didn’t keep track of things, I don’t exactly have any numbers. I do have a memory of a quilt that I made for my younger son, and then there was the enormous landscaping project along the house, but seriously, the year is just a blur.

This year I would like to set some goals and then measure my progress. With the best of intentions, here is what I’m planning for in 2015.

Sock Books
Seriously, how many sock books does one knitter need? Wait… that’s not a fair question.

Knitting

  • I’m going to go through my sock books and select a different sock to make each month. Then I will knit the sock! Seriously, I will get this done.
  • I will knit the socks with the STASH YARN!!!
  • I will make a really serious effort to record my projects in Ravelry.
  • I tend to make multiple items of the same pattern, so I will also start a spreadsheet to list my knitted items. Ha! Next year I will know exactly how many baby booties I actually made.
Spinning Wheel
Here’s my beautiful Schacht wheel. Poor baby, the flyer is in pieces and it actually has a loose screw.

Spinning

  • I dropped my spinning wheel. Parts fell off. I finally sucked it up and told Maggie Casey of Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins (Boulder, Colorado) that I had hurt my baby. She told me (3 months ago) to bring it in and she would fix it. I will for sure absolutely without fail take it in this month!! next month before summer.
  • I’m struggling with the spinning wheel because I bought 5 ounces of Paco-Vicuna roving to spin. Wow! This stuff is soft beyond belief. I’m afraid to spin it. If the wheel is broken, I can’t be expected to spin it, can I? All right. I’m a big person. I will without fail get this fiber spun before the end of the year.
  • The Paco-Vicuna is from a local grower, Jefferson Farms. The name of the animal is Gulliver. I promise to call them up before the year is over and I will go visit Gulliver. Won’t that be a fun post!
Paco Vicuna fiber
This fiber is so soft I am scared to spin it. I need to settle on a project first, I think.

Books

  • Goodreads says I read 25 books this year. That can’t be right!! I know that I am reading more than that.  Therefore I resolve to list every book that I read at Goodreads this year.
  • I will even review every some of the books that I read.
  • Maybe I should start a spreadsheet while I am at it.
  • I would love to read 100 books this year. Ha! Really, it will be fun!
Home Run Roses
Here are the Home Run on the day I planted them. The shrubs are now 2.5 feet tall and covered with blooms after two years of growth.

Roses

  • The roses at the front of the house, Showbiz, look just terrible these days. Mainly they serve as food for wandering insects. Maybe I shouldn’t have dosed them with bleach while painting the house two years ago. They have never been the same again…
  • I am going to rip those roses out and replant with some roses that are hardy, full of blooms and resistant to insects. The Home Run roses at the side of the yard look great. Maybe I will get some of those for the front.

That’s it. There is only an hour left to the year. Goodbye, goodbye 2014.

Happy New Year everyone!!

Who Let Winter In Already?

It’s cold here today, and the ground is covered in snow. Icicles are hanging off the edge of my back porch. The weather forecast is calling for bitter cold and more snow early next week, and I can feel the misery of winter starting to close in already. I used to love this time of year, but lately I’m feeling the cold a lot more than I used to, and I sure do long for those days of early fall when the leaves where spectacular, the geese were just arriving in town, and everywhere I drove there was a blaze of color.

Yarn in tree.
I loved this yarn so much when I bought it this fall I took its picture in my maple tree. Doesn’t it just fit in with the leaves?

It was in that spirit that I pulled out this shawl/scarf that I had started last month for some weekend knitting. I had put it aside a couple of weeks ago to get the Christmas stuff done, but now I was on fire to finish it.  The pattern is called Hitchhiker (by Martina Behm) because there are 42 little teeth along one edge, and who can ignore a scarf that is the answer to life, the universe and everything? Certainly it should be the answer to my winter blues.

Half knitted Hitchhiker scarf.
This is the HItchhiker at exactly the halfway point (21 little teeth). The scarf languished for a couple of weeks while other projects were finished up.

The pattern is all garter stitch, so it is really warm and squishy. It’s colorful, cheerful, and just what I need to face next week. Even better, it will match a new top that my daughter-in-law gave me for my Christmas present. Yep, time to knit like a fiend. 🙂

I knit last night while watching a movie, and then settled down this afternoon and worked pretty steady on it for a few hours. This evening I cast off and it is done!

Finished scarf on author.
Here it is finished and keeping me warn already. Who can be cold with such a cheerful and colorful scarf around their neck? Not me!

All right winter. Bring it on!

FO Friday: The Day After Christmas

It’s the day after Christmas! I know that it is Boxing Day, but in my house it is “Recover From Knitting Day”. It came right down to the wire (again), but I got all of the gifts done on time and into the mail or under the tree. The most fun for me is getting the feedback from recipients after my little knitted gifts arrive at their new destination. So,  from the yarn stash to the Christmas Tree, here are the knitted items of 2014.

Knitted cat.
For my cat loving cousin I made a black and white kitty,
Cats!
Here he is in his new home on Christmas morning. Happy landings little guy!
Lace Mitt WIP
I was knitting lace mitts like crazy as we got closer to the big day…
and here are the same mitts this morning on their new owner's hands. :-)
and here are the same mitts this morning on their new owner’s hands. 🙂
Mitts
The mitts that I made for my sister arrived in time for Christmas…
Socks
and the socks for my daughter-in-law got done early Christmas Eve a couple of hours before I handed over the wrapped package

Ta-daa! Christmas gift success.

OK, there were some things that I planned and bought stuff for but didn’t make, but I have a head start for next year. Right?

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

FO Friday: One Christmas Gift Done!

Ok, I have a lot of knitted Christmas presents going. I buckled down and got one of them done today. I offer for your viewing enjoyment the Christmas Cat!!

Pieces for stuffed knitted cat.
My cat MacKenzie was thrilled to model the start of this knitting project, a black and white cat for a cat-loving cousin.
Last night I completed knitting all of the pieces and steamed blocked them into submission so I could start seaming.
Last night I completed knitting all of the pieces and steamed blocked them into submission so I could start seaming.
By this afternoon I had the body of the cat together. Not very appealing, is he?
By this afternoon I had the body of the cat together. Not very appealing, is he?
Cat is done! MacKenzie still isn't sure about how he feels about him.
Cat is done! MacKenzie still isn’t sure he’s happy about this new friend

It will be snowing this weekend in Denver, so hopefully I will get those Christmas mitts done next. 🙂

Pattern:  Four Knitted Cats by Kath Delmeny

WIP Wednesday: Christmas Gifts!

This is the time of year when my Christmas knitting plans are waaay too big for the time left before the big event. I always knit or plan to knit presents for everyone. As the days creep closer to the date I begin to triage and start presents that need to go into the mail first while holding local presents on the back burner. That’s how I ended up with soooo many works in progress this year. Here they are:

Knitted Mitts
I already have three pairs of lace mitts finished, and these are the ones that I worked on over the weekend. When I get the third pair done I’ll sit down and do all the thumbs at once.

 

Half knitted Hitchhiker scarf.
This Hitchhiker (exactly half done!) went on hold before I started the mitts as it is going to someone local. I’m getting a little nervous about this one’s chances of making it to full Hitchhiker status. 🙂

 

Pieces for stuffed knitted cat.
My cat MacKenzie has been hanging out today as I worked on the pieces to create a black and white stuffed cat. This is one of two cats I need to get done and into the mail by next week.

 

I still have to get another stuffed cat and a pair of alpaca half-finger gloves done too.

I hope to have some finished objects to show off by Friday.

Patterns:

Knitting into the Future

Last month I gathered with the other members of my family to attend the memorial services for a beloved aunt, the last of her generation in our family. The celebration of her life focused on her service to the nation (she was a WAC in WWII), her commitment to her family, church, and community, and her many beautiful quilts. Several of these quilts were displayed in the church at her service, and I think that many of us in attendance had been given a quilt that she had made. Exquisite creations with names like “Texas Star” and “Storm at Sea”, they are her legacy to so many of us.

Detail of Shawl
This is one of the Holden shawls (designed by Mindy Wilkes)  I knitted for Christmas presents last year.

Well, it’s not like my little knitted pieces can compete with that, but I’ve been sending knitted items out for birthdays and Christmas for several years now. I was amazed to see two of my cousins and my sister all wearing shawls that I had given them. In fact, all the women in the family had something from me except… my cousin Jean.

Oops! Kind of a big fail. Time to get cracking on a custom ordered shawl. Jean likes jewel tones, so I dug in the stash to see if I had something that would work for a shawl.

Skein of Yarn
This is Interlacements Tokyo yarn (50/50 silk/merino) hand dyed by the late Judy Ditmore. Perfect!

I found a nice sport weight yarn that I bought a few years ago at the Estes Park Wool Market. It was an impulse buy that was hibernating in the stash waiting for its moment to come. Hello jewel tones.

I decided to use a simple pattern with mostly garter stitch since I learned that it displays handpainted yarns well. This pattern, 3S Shawl by Amy Meade, was perfect. Fast easy simple! I finished it in a week of knitting and mailed it off this morning.

Finished Shawl
Here’s the final shawl ready to head off to New York.

How fun is this? A little piece of me went to New York with the shawl, and with a little luck it will have a long, productive life. LIve long and prosper little guy. 🙂

Life is Uncertain, Knit Fast!!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. A time to be thankful for the good things in life. I have always thankful for good health in the past. This year, for the first time, that wasn’t true.

There can be no doubt about it. Things hadn’t been quite right for a long time. My joints hurt. I had a rash on my face. I sometimes had trouble swallowing, and acid reflux was occurring on a regular basis. My hands were swollen and I had trouble moving my fingers. Fatigue was my constant companion. If my hands got cold my fingers turned white or purple, a condition called Reynaud’s. Sometimes it hurt to breathe. I kept thinking that if things got worse I would go to the doctor, but I never became so sick that I could justifying taking off work. As many people with chronic conditions do, I just made adjustments and kept going.

Then, without any warning, my digestive system rebelled in a big way over the course of one weekend in early May. Colitis? You have got to be kidding me! Feeling pretty uncomfortable I kept close to home and worked on landscaping projects outside, read books, and worried. After two weeks I contacted my doctor.

Tests were ordered. Everything was negative: there was no obvious infection. Relieved, I decided to just give things a little more time. There was one test result that did nag at me, however. My renal function was a little low.

Two weeks later, lying on the couch with aching legs and abdominal discomfort, it finally hit me. I have a rash on my face. My knees hurt. I have Reynaud’s disease. I have a low renal function test result. When tested in the past I had a positive ANA (anti-nuclear antibody) test. This sounded like one of those cases presented at the weekly seminars when I worked in a rheumatology research lab…

Alarms went off in my head. Lupus! I called the doctor’s office and scheduled an appointment for an exam to be evaluated for lupus.

Lab Tests
Good grief! This is how much blood was drawn to do my rheumatology testing!

“How is it possible that you haven’t already been diagnosed?” my doctor asked me.  How indeed? Oh yeah. That adjusting and just keep going thing. She ordered a huge battery of tests for a comprehensive rheumatology screening, and told me no more gluten in case it was celiac disease. I was horrified. Celiac disease! I wasn’t prepared for that! “Celiac disease would be good,” she said. “We can treat that.” Believe it or not, at that moment celiac disease seemed like the end of the world. I left her office in a sad condition and counted the number of tests ordered while heading down the stairs to the lab. Twenty-two lab tests. Yikes!

Over the next week the test results slowly trickled into the patient portal where I could see them.  Everything was coming back negative. Because of the rheumatology research lab job, I had some idea about which antibody test results were linked to lupus. The big lupus markers were all coming back negative. I began to convince myself that I was a big over-reacting baby. Then suddenly a note came from my doctor telling me that she was sending me to rheumatology for a consultation and three tests I hadn’t seen before appeared in my inbox on the patient portal. Positive results for auto-antibodies associated with scleroderma and Sjogren’s Syndrome.

Pills in case
Look at the great pill case that my sister sent me to help me keep track of all these meds!

At the end of August, 2014 I was diagnosed with both of these disorders and my new rheumatologist started me on medications meant to slow down the progress of the disease and to treat the symptoms that I already have. Eight prescriptions and three over the counter medications!! I have the type of scleroderma that is referred to as limited systemic sclerosis (CREST). This is not good news.  I already have significant skin tightening on my neck, face and hands, and my digestive system has been impacted, but my heart and lungs are doing OK. In a strange way,  however, I feel lucky. Very, very lucky and thankful.  This Thanksgiving I continue to be thankful for what I have. I have been diagnosed, I’m on medication, I am retired and have time to knit…

This is just part of the yarn stash...
This is just part of the yarn stash…

Well, isn’t that a bitch! Here I am in possession of a world-class yarn stash, and I have a rare medical condition that may leave me unable to knit. The skin is getting especially tight across my right hand…

Luckily I am a master of adaptation. That whole adjust and keep going thing has prepared me for an event just like this.

Time to knit fast. Knit very fast! Just cast on and don’t look back.

Enjoy your gluten. 🙂

Quidditch, Anyone?


As all readers of Harry Potter know, Quidditch is the quintessential sport of the Wizarding World. The game features a lot of technical details that I won’t attempt to go into here, but I would just like to share that it features serious technical flying, bludgeoning, and the movement of several flying balls. The most difficult ball to field, and therefore the most desirable for the typical Quidditch player, is the Golden Snitch.

My grandnephew Michael, the brother of Elly who received some purple owl mitts after her broken finger landed her in the hospital, is a great fan of all things Potter. His birthday is coming up and will be Harry Potter themed, so his mom requested a Golden Snitch.

She had already located the pattern that she wanted, which was one of several to be found on Ravelry.  This one, by Melissa Mall, was a crochet pattern. Not my comfort zone, but I was game. Off to the yarn stash I went.

Gold yarn
This is Lumina yarn by Berroco.

What do you know? I do have some gold sparkly yarn (this is a stash to be proud of, let me tell you!). It was a little thin, so I doubled it to make the ball. I found some DK weight Knit Picks Bare to use for the wings, and I was in business. In spite of my reservations I found the pattern to be simple, easy to understand and it produced a snitch lickity split.

Here's the finished snitch all ready for its flight west.
Here’s the finished snitch all ready for its flight west.

One Golden Snitch launched from Colorado on its way to California this afternoon. Happy Birthday, Michael!

 

Winter is Coming: Knit Mitts!

It started for me one blustery winter day about 5 years ago. I made a quick trip in the car without wearing gloves and arrived at my destination with one finger dead white and numb. How bizarre, I thought. I went into the building, rubbed my finger until the circulation returned, and idly thought that I should mention it to my doctor the next time I saw her. I knew that it was Reynaud’s disease.

Over the years the Reynaud’s progressed to all of the fingers of my hands, and last year my toes joined the party. Instead of white my fingers now turn purple within seconds when exposed to cold.  Pain is involved. As it turned out, Reynaud’s was the harbinger of things to come; three months ago I was diagnosed with scleroderma (systemic sclerosis), but that is another story. Today’s story is one of blue fingers, cold weather, and the world’s cutest mitt pattern.

Scarf
I made this scarf using Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere. I had about three quarters of a skein left over. What better excure do I need for mitt knitting?

I made myself a sweet little scarf out of a cashmere blend sock yarn last winter. I had some yarn left over so I made a pair of lace mitts from it using the Sweet Pea Mitts pattern (by Lisa Swanson) in the book Lace One-Skein Wonders (edited by Judith Durant).

Lace Mitts
Mitts to match my scarf. Take that cold weather!

Yep, just as cute as the scarf. Since hand circulation is a problem for me I started the thumb lower on the mitt (starting at my wrist) so it wouldn’t pull across my hand. This mitt is nice because the I-cord bind-off keeps the stitches at the top of the mitt firmly in place across my knuckles. Because they are light in weight I can wear them indoors while reading, knitting, and working in the house. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to have some more of these…?

Mitts
Look at what I’ve been making from leftover sock yarn, 🙂

It was stunningly cold this November in Colorado. I went crazy with the mitt knitting. I now have three more pairs to match other shawls and tops in my wardrobe, and I am even sleeping in them. I wore them inside my mittens while shoveling snow, and they protect me from the cold steering wheel in the car.  I can even wear them on top of light gloves. Take that Reynaud’s!!

Oh yeah. Maybe some Christmas presents were also produced.