The Saturday Update: Week 37

Well, this was a week. It seemed much, much longer, but really, it was only a week. My youngest son alerted me that he was battling some type of infection early in the week and the news stations began alerting me that the weather was going to be just wacko for a few days. The forecast was so crazy we made the national news.

Yep. We broke a record for the heat amid warnings of a serious snow storm on the way. The smoke from wildfires in the mountains west of me kept the sky a dirty white color and the sun a sullen red ball as I brought all of the potted plants into the garage for safety before the expected snow and hard freeze. The temperature dropped over 60°F in 24 hours and I had to start up the furnace. I covered the roses to protect them and my son started a second prescription of antibiotics.

Two days later the weather had warmed up again, the snow was gone, and I had carted all of the potted plants back outside for a few more weeks of sunshine. The fires in the mountains were chugging back to life after a few days of respite during the snowstorm, and a text had came from my son that started with, “Don’t panic…” His doctor had sent him to the ER, he was transported to a second hospital where he had emergency surgery and landed in the ICU on a respirator overnight. This afternoon he is off the respirator and sending me text messages again while I make calls to his nursing team. Because of Covid I’m not with him right now and I JUST HATE 2020!!! I think that we are all due a break.

Knitting

This was a week for garter stitch for sure. I did some work on the new Misurina sweater early in the week, but by the end of the week, aware that my son was not getting better on his antibiotics, I was all garter stitch, all the way.

I’m further down the yoke of the Misurina sweater (by Caitlin Hunter) and am happy with how it is going.

The colorwork sections of the yoke are separated by little cables, can you see them there in the grey? I was catching the floats in those cable stitches but you can see them peaking through because of the loose gauge so I am just making really long floats now. I don’t like to do that in general, and I have an idea of catching them later on with some clever stitching with grey yarn if they are a problem, but for now extra long floats are the plan.

Lured into a sense of autumn by the cold and snow I cast on another garter stitch shawl using some Mad Tosh sock yarn in the colorway “Rocky Mountain Colorado” that looks like all the colors of fall.

See what I’m talking about?
This is the Age of Gold shawl by Joji Locatelli.

The large garter stitch shawl is finished off with a lace border in a nice contrast color that can pick up one of the colors in the garter fabric. I kind of want to use a dusty pink that I have, but I’m also tempted to buy a beautiful saffron colored yarn I saw online. So many decisions in a week gone bad! Right now I’m just going to keep knitting and once I’ve got more yarn into the shawl I’ll have a better idea about which color I want to highlight. The trick is to make the colors sparkle instead of toning down the shawl… Ironically, because of the extreme heat followed by a hard freeze, the fall colors in our mountains won’t be that nice this year. Thanks again, 2020!!

Garden

Right before the rain started I went out into the smoky air and took some pictures while moving plants into the safety of the garage.

The stonecrop was just starting to bloom and covered with bees. Poor guys… hope they got home before the rain started.
While I was taking the picture of the bee there was a flash of movement to my left… a bunny in the back yard again!!

The stonecrop came through the storm just fine under the tubs I covered them with and the bees are back. I haven’t spotted the backyard bunny again, but the squirrels are putting on a show in the front yard for Hannah as they race around the front ash tree. As I took the knitting pictures yesterday I spotted this under my Douglas Fir (the only good Doug is a dead Doug… poor maligned tree): an owl pellet!!

The first time I’ve ever spotted one of these in the wild!

A little calling card from one of the great horned owls reminding me about the circle of life.

By the way, the mountain lion has been seen a couple of more times, but not in my backyard, thank heavens!!

Books

The Pull of the Stars was great! Set in Ireland, it is the story of a nurse working in a small ward with pregnant women stricken by influenza during the Great Influenza pandemic in 1918. The characters are rich, the historical setting and issues ring true, and I chomped my way though the book in just a couple of days. Along with the pandemic there are threads about the great war, shell shocked soldiers, the fight for Irish independence, prejudice against women, and the abuse of the “pipeline” that consumed women and children not protected by the sanctity  of marriage in 1918 Catholic Ireland.

The title is a nod to the origin of the word “influenza” which comes from an Italian outbreak in medieval times that was attributed to the influence of the stars.Our heroine nurse records each death and loss as tiny scratches on her watch. A moon for a lost mother. Tiny lines and half moons for stillborns and premature births. Every loss is recorded in time from an illness poorly understood and difficult to control. Kind of haunting, huh.

So I attended the live discussion with the author of this book at Barnes and Noble, and it was great! The author, Emma Donoghue talked about her work and answered questions from viewers that were general ones like “why did you choose this situation” or “how difficult was it to portray medical understandings of a century ago”. It was fine, but I also would have like to just “talk” about the book, the characters, and their actions with the other participants. Nope. No spoilers allowed. There must be a way to have reader chit chat just like the real book club would do. I guess I’ll keep digging and maybe ask B&N if there is a way that can be set up. It would be just another Facebook group, right?

Have a great week, everyone!!

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

Be kind to each other and stay safe.

It’s time for me to call the hospital again.

The Saturday Update: Week 36

I think that I am just about done with 2020. Never, ever has there been a year so ill behaved in my own memory. Today we hit a record high of 100° F where I live, and on Tuesday it is expected to snow. We had another case of bubonic plague in the state. A geyser in Yellowstone National Park, long dormant, has suddenly returned to life. Covid-19 cases are spiking in the states that surround my own. The nightly news continues to be a horror show, and some of it is just downright triggering. There can be no longer be doubt that the current administration is taking action to accelerate the Covid-19 infection rate in the US; stay tuned, folks: our fatality numbers are going to be astounding. Every day brings more tweeted lies and misinformation meant to contribute to racial tensions and general chaos, and the words “civil war” are popping up more often in my social media timeline.  The president was reported to disparage war dead as “suckers” and “losers” this week, and also encouraged his supporter to vote twice. This is just plain historic, but also very painful. I’m totally over living in interesting times.

Some days it is hard to stay cheerful.

But Hannah and I are doing our best. 🙂 Also, I’ve told Hannah that she can’t play with the squirrels because… plague!

Hannah: There’s a squirrel, Kitten Mom!! Let me out, let me out, let me out…
Shameless hussy squirrel chomping down my flowers, oblivious to the intensely focused kitten at the screen door.
Knitting

This was a hugely productive week knitting-wise. Well, nothing got done, but there was a lot of knitting going on! I am working on a second Far Away Dreams shawl with more yarn from the stash. This mindless garter stitch shawl is perfect and easy to handle while knitting in bed, sucking down oxygen, and listening to an audiobook.

I still have three feet of garter stitch to go before I start on the outer border. I’m going to use a white yarn speckled with blue and black that will be just awesome. Isn’t that a great blue color? Its name is “Denim”.

I also went crazy and cast on a sweater in the middle of the week.

After vacillating between color choices for a couple of weeks I settled on this combo to knit myself a Misurina by Caitlin Hunter.

Misurina has it all going on… cables, lace, colorwork, and some texture too. The original sweater was knit with a single stranded yarn containing a little linen and the gauge was pretty large… 20 stitches per 4 inches. I settled on two colors of single strand yarn that was pretty lofty in my stash and recklessly cast on using size 6 needles last week.

This sweater is knit from the top down and I have just made my way through the lace and am beginning the colorwork. I need to transfer my stitches to a larger size 6 needle, but they are kind of in high demand right now. Hmmm… It may be curbside pickup time at my local yarn store. 🙂
Hannah is a lot of help and is also totally a fan of the cashmere yarn I’m using for the contrast color.

In the background, being knit in chunks when new clues arrive, is my The Sharon Show shawl. If you don’t want to see this, I’m sorry. It really is too good to not show off. It is finally long enough to drape around my shoulders like a shawl which gives you an idea of all the colors and textures going on while this is being knitted.

See what I mean? Texture, lace, crazy stitches you never thought of before all coming together to make a totally fun, cat-crazy experience. Part of the fun is the totally cool and laid back group on Facebook that has been completely supportive of all knitting speeds and color choices.

This shawl and the whole MKAL experience has been the perfect antidote to the crazy world outside my doors. Peace. Joy. Color. Admonitions from Sharon to not be self-critical and to weave in all of the ends!!  Did I mention that each clue comes with a cocktail recipe? One of the best parts is seeing all the color choices of the other knitters: I am so going to have to make another one of these in blues… and maybe earth tones… My Ravelry notes are here.

Garden

The weather was cool for several days before the thermostat went back up into the high 90’s. Many of the potted plants were able to recover over the last week, and things are looking pretty cheerful out front again.

All the geraniums along the front walk are blooming cheerfully again.
The mini roses especially are looking good. Poor things. Little do they know that there is snow on the way…

I’m going to bring all the potted plants into the garage for a couple of days and then will go to heroic lengths to cover and protect the front roses to get them undamaged through the cold front and snowfall on Tuesday. Poor roses. The plants took a lot of damage in the spring from a late hard freeze, and here we go with an early one in the fall. 2020, knock it off!!!

Books

Okay, I lost a couple of days reading a book for my book club that was… not good. I refuse to post its picture online and I’m not going to say anything else expect that I’m pretty much done with my book group. NO one else read the book, and they decided to just get together at a restaurant for happy hour and a return to the days when we used to meet in person, and of course that isn’t something that I can do. I was already pretty disgusted with the week when this happened, and not being able to recover the two lost days of my life BECAUSE I READ THIS STUPID BOOK THAT THEY CHOOSE!!! I headed online looking for options. Hey, Barnes & Noble has an online live book club meet up that I could join. They picked a book that I want to read, and people are already online talking about how excited they are to have the book, and that they are reading the book, and that they can’t wait to talk about the book… I’m in!! I love books, and I want to hang out with other people who also love books, and I would also like to talk about the books!!

This is the book for the Barnes & Noble club. I started it last night!

This book is set in Ireland, during WWI and the Great Influenza pandemic. Our heroine is a nurse taking care of young pregnant women who also have the flu in an isolated fever ward. The book is also crazy timely as the disrespect of WWI fallen troops is a hot item in the news this week, and we all know about the pandemic… I’m only a couple of hours into the book, but it is engaging and interesting; I’m a fan! I’m looking forward to the actual meeting and discussions.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have a great week, everyone!!

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

Late Update: Just got a warning on my cell phone that there is a MOUNTAIN LION wandering through my neighborhood. Of course there is. It is 2020.

The Saturday Update: Week 35

The days have finally cooled down here and the first leaves are changing color on my trees. The air quality is better as some rain showers in the evenings cleared the worst of the smoke from the air. The plants in the garden are recovering and so am I; the painful joints/muscles are now behaving themselves and I am getting good sleep again. I’m making more progress in cleaning my house (this week I got ride of fleeces that were at least 20 years old…) and am ready to return to a little quilting.

Hannah thinks that would be fun!
Knitting

I was really productive this week in the knitting department. I finished the Far Away Dreams shawl that I have been working on for a few weeks now.

This cushy shawl is just perfect for wrapping up in on cool evenings.
I especially like how the lace turned out.

Can you see in the picture above that the light outer trim on the right side of the shawl is just a tiny bit wider? I lost at yarn chicken and did the last row of the dark lace in the lighter color. I’m pretty sure no one will notice the difference while I’m wearing the shawl. 🙂 My Ravelry notes are here.

I like this shawl so much I already went digging into the yarn stash for more yarn to make another. This time I’m going to have a lighter outer border.

This will look more like the knitted sample shown in the Far Away Dreams pattern. I’m liking it!! The speckled white will be the lace border. I can’t wait to cast on!

I need another shawl to knit on because I’m racing right through The Sharon Show shawl. It is so much fun!! I can’t wait for the new clue to arrive on Friday and I usually have it done within a day or two. This week I focused on finishing the Far Away shawl and put off Sharon until the end of the week. I got Clue 3 done Thursday night and was just chomping to start Clue 4 as soon as it dropped. I’m now halfway through Clue 4. I won’t show the entire shawl because… MYSTERY… and I don’t want Sharon from Security to track me down with a citation (but I’m pretty sure that Hannah would be excited to have her come visit and maybe play chase-chase with her…) but here is a glimpse of my latest work.

How fun is this?!

I kind of want to cast on another one of these shawls, too, but I’m waiting to get to the end before I make the final color decisions.  I’m also fussing over yarns and color choices for another couple of sweaters these days (with lots of help from Hannah) and I’ve been reflecting on how robust my yarn stash is and how happy I am to be able to put together an endless number of projects using just stash yarn. Seriously, there is yarn in there that I’ve wondered, up until this summer, just what it could be used for that is now exactly the right amount and color for a new sweater pattern just dropped by a favorite designer. Good planning. Good luck. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

Garden

To you see this? The miniature roses are starting to bloom again. This year I plan to plant the roses into the garden to overwinter instead of bringing them indoors for the winter because, Hannah!

There are several new buds on the plant. Can you see them?
Books

I’m reading again now that my eyes have recovered. I’ve gone back to the 16th century for some murder mystery action.

It’s a murder mystery. 

Our hero is a lawyer named Matthew Shardlake who has undertaken an investigation in the service of the Lady Elizabeth who wants to ensure that justice is served in the murder trial of a distant Boleyn relative who is also embroiled in a land dispute with a neighbor. This story, written about a time centuries past, also echoes some themes current today. There is a lot of political uncertainty as the current king, Edward VI, is 11 years old and his uncle is ruling in his name. You get a sense that power is being abused; coinage is so debased it is almost worthless.  Landowners are turning out tenant farmers to enclose their land because sheep earn a better profit for them than crops. Displaced and homeless people wander the landscape in search of a living while the wealthy insist that their actions are necessary to maintain their way of life; the landless citizens are seen as dangerous and criminal by the more stable upper class and resentments are brewing.  The  shifts to the new religion and an English language mass continue and are also creating tensions. To be clear, this is a time of unrest and uncertainty that kind of rivals our own. In the middle of this a run-away wife is found murdered and  Matthew is dispatched to discover the truth. I’m about a third of the way through and I’m enjoying myself.

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 32

It is International Cat Day! Hannah is besides herself and has been celebrating all day with the new toys that arrived from Chewy yesterday.

Hannah: it should be International Kitten Day!!

Hannah is wondering if her feet are getting kind of big… yeah, a little bit… I am laying in more kitten food! Anyway, it was a pretty good week for Hannah and I as we knitted, read books, cooked meals for the next week, and basically took it easy. Well, I took it easy; Hannah is getting more athletic and demanding and expects me to play with her and… wait for it… feed her KITTY COOKIES!!! That’s right. She has decided that she likes those kitty cookies after all. Why do I do this to myself. Under no circumstances will I let her drink out of the faucet!

Knitting

I spent a lot of the week knitting and knitting on my Far Away Dreams shawl. I want to be honest here; I started this because I wanted no stress endless garter stitch as I was stressed out and fighting a flare. Now I’m less stressed out,  the flare has receded somewhat to the usual background level of symptoms, and the garter stitch is still going on, and on, and on… There are 231 ridges of garter stitch and I am now close to 200 ridges, which is 400 rows. The end is in sight. Lace is right around the corner. I’m going to get this shawl down in the next week or two…

Then I opened up Ravelry.

Caitlin Hunter published another pattern!!! I love this sweater! I need to start on it right away!!

Look at this! Photo is swiped from Caitlin Hunter’s Misurina page on Ravelry and under her copyright.

Hannah and I headed right up to shop the yarn stash for the yarn. This is what I found:

Won’t this look great?! The gray will be the body of the sweater and the multi (which is the Rocky Mountain Colorado colorway!) is the detail.

I was so excited to start. I planned to wind the yarn almost immediately. I made a fatal error. I succumbed to curiosity (curiosity killed the cat, you know… it can also be damaging to knitting progress…) and clicked on the icon for The Sharon Show by Casapinka. If you don’t know about this already, The Sharon Show is a MKAL (Mystery Knit Along) that is being run by Casapinka’s entitled, snarky, highly opinionated, snax demanding year-old cat. I don’t do MKAL’s at all, as I prefer to know exactly what I’m knitting before I invest all of that yarn. But this is pandemic time and I am sooo isolated right now. I just looked at all of my yarn and I know what I have up there. How can I walk away from interacting with a cat like this?

Sharon is in charge of security at Casapinka. Sharon is bossy and dripping in attitude. Sharon is not above writing up a citation if you violate knitting suggestions. The snark is strong with this one. I bought the pattern.
The pattern came with some info on color choices and a schematic coloring sheet to help you plan the order of your colors. And strong admonishments from Sharon about abiding with guidelines. There might have been some threats about citations…

I got going on playing with the color order and when the first clue dropped yesterday I cast right on and got started. The pattern is so cat snarky and fun!! I am so glad that I am doing this. My first picture of the knitting can be found on my Ravelry project page; I don’t feel that I should post it here because…MYSTERY Knit Along.

I have a lot of knitting going on now. I am going to finish my clue each week as fast as I can and then really concentrate on the shawl so that I can open up the needles I need for that sweater. It’s a plan. I’ll let you know next week how I did.

Garden
The butterfly bush is blooming!!
And a beautiful Japanese Beetle has arrived to snack on the plant.

I hurried that beetle on his way and gave the plant a good spray with soapy plant insecticide. Things are picking up in the garden. I’m looking forward to some butterflies coming by for a visit and snack. Hannah will like that!!

Books

I was a prolific reader as a kid, and very early on I was sucked into science fiction books. Heinlein was a popular author with me and I read Starship Troopers many times over the years. The last two weeks I have been reading a series of military science fiction books that are reminiscent of the books that I grew up with by the author Marko Kloos.

Space going military, giant alien invaders, hot-shot maneuvers, and desperate battles. The plot moves right along and the dialogue is snappy. Perfect.

This actually is the 6th book in the series which I suspect is coming to an end with this volume. I have to be honest; I started the first book because it was included in my Kindle Unlimited package and it included a free audiobook, but once I got into it I was a happy knitter/quilter/flare-fighting invalid and kept getting the next volume in the series as soon as I finished a 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 31

August. The eighth month of an unbelievably historic year. This has been the longest year imaginable, hasn’t it?! I have now reached the point where I check the phone before I get out of bed to see what happened overnight; I mean, what else is there? Alien invasion? An explosion of hurricanes? Horrific solar flare? I’m not sure that surreal is enough to describe current events anymore… I saw a tee shirt on Facebook that had a review of the year 2020 with only one star and the words: Very bad. Would not recommend.

Yeah. 2020, we still have 5 months to go. Behave yourself!!

Thank heavens I have Hannah to keep me anchored. You know how kittens are: feed me, play with me, pet me, party time!!

For me in my little world, however, things were pretty good. I’m still out of the flare and I’m getting lots done. The weather has remained cooler and there have been rain showers, so the garden continues to recover. Hannah is growing like a weed and is the best little companion. I’m pretty hopeful about this month. Please, August, be good!

Quilting

I’m cranking away on the new quilt and got another block done this week. May I present to you, bears!

This was a faster block to do then the one with the fisherman. This coming week I’m going to tackle a block with a moose walking through a forest.

This is an art quilt designed to hang on a wall. The name is Calling Me Home and the design (and kit) is from Pine Needles.

Knitting

All of a sudden I am getting projects done. Last week I finished my Breathe and Hope shawl by Casapinka, and this week I blocked it and did the finishing work.

It is blocked!

As it turns out this shawl is long and not deep at the point so it is challenging to photograph if the colors are subtle and the day is overcast. Please accept this indoor picture that kind of shows off the textures. I’m looking forward to using this as a serious layering piece in the fall and winter.

I also finished the Willow Cowl this week. You can see in this photo the picot hemmed edges and the alternating lace and stockinette sections; cleverly it also decreases as you knit up towards the neck.
The changing textures makes the cowl fall into nice layers when you put it on. My notes on Ravelry are here.

Are you loving my pandemic hair? I don’t know when I will ever get a nice hair cut again. 2020, you can start behaving yourself any time now.

Garden

The garden is recovering in the cooler weather and plants are growing like crazy (well, I did give everyone fertilizer…), but there is very little blooming going on. I can see buds on the plants, but there are some tiny beetles so I dosed the plants with soapy insecticide to protect the growing flower buds.  Maybe next week I’ll have something nice to show off…

Let me instead offer a picture of Hannah trolling for trouble among the orchids. Now that I’ve taken the ribbons off she isn’t using them for toys anymore, but she’s not above batting the roots and stems.
Books
The book picked by my book club this month.

I did finish off Mexican Gothic this week. I’m kind of conflicted about this book. There wasn’t too much about Mexico, but there sure was a lot of gothic in this book. You know, a plot where a young woman  travels to a strange, old and creepy house with silent servants and a graveyard for the backyard. That’s pretty gothic, wouldn’t you agree? The hosts are less than welcoming and the rules of the house are stifling. There is mold everywhere, the food is icky, and the cousin that our heroine has been sent to check on is strangely dysfunctional and hard to access. Along with the house there is also an old silver mine that has been the scene of numerous tragedies; many of the dead are in the convenient backyard graveyard. Did I mention that the family has a history of violent deaths? The sense of menace keeps building in the book until, unexpectedly, the book transforms into a full blown horror novel! Seriously, this was not what I expected, but the plot did hold together and I did finish the book. Not sure I’m recommending it unless you are a fan of the gross horror genre.

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 30

Are you ready for this? I’M OUT OF THE FLARE!!! Whew. I was starting to get a little depressed with the whole flare experience when suddenly I turned the corner and I was finally on the mend. I’m crediting the improvement to the change in weather here in Colorado: the monsoon started and we have had days of cooler weather with rain and absolutely no smoke. I’m up getting things done again, I’m eating real food, and life is good. Just in time, too, because this week has totally been the Hannah show.

You’re talking about me?

Suddenly Hannah is brave and exploring; getting into trouble everywhere. She climbed into the refrigerator. She attacked the orchids. She pulled my knitting out of a bag and ran through the house with it. She rushes through the door into the backyard each time I open it. She ambushes me from hidden locations as I walk by… and she helps me with all of my projects, of course. She’s pretty sure that I just exist to play with her, which is kind of accurate.

Quilting

Hannah and I have returned to the craft room where I’m working on a quilt and listening to audiobooks while Hannah bats at everything that she can and tortures the orchids.

I’m almost done with the first block of the Calling Me Home quilt by Pine Needles. This is the detail work on the left side of the block.

This is an art quilt that is created by fusing little pieces of fabric down and then stitching around each little piece when you do the final quilting. I still have to build a little log cabin and an eagle on this block, and then it is on to one with bear cubs climbing up a tree. This is so much fun! Hannah is having the time of her life and I have developed new levels of materials management.

Knitting

I am just rolling in knitting projects at the moment with 4 different WIPs going at once: two shawls, a cowl and a pair of tipless gloves. I buckled down and focused on one project this week; I finished the Breathe and Hope shawl today. It’s not blocked yet, but it is done!

Here it is, an unblocked heap. Still, you can get an idea of the colors and different textures that make up this shawl.

I was first drawn to the shawl by the corrugated sections which are actually mosaic knitting as you knit only one color at a time and slip the other colored stitches as you knit along. Between the mosaic sections there are blocks of knitting that are built on variations of garter and stockinette that feature knit below stitches. I kind of knew about “knit below” but this is the first time I’ve actually created something using them. They kind of mimic brioche, and I’m now a fan!

Sections of garter separated by K1, K1B sequences which build the lacy look of the variegated yarn.
Now that I’m done with the shawl I have to say that my absolute favorite part is this bind off with the knots inserted into the purl stitches of the K2, P2 ribbing. So cute!!

I still have those three other knitting projects to work on in the coming week, but I have to admit that I am champing at the bit to cast on another Breathe and Hope. Maybe one with brighter colors?

Garden

After weeks of hot dryness the garden had been struggling, but this week the cooler days and rain really turned things around. Plants are growing again and I think that there are some buds appearing on plants. I’m very hopeful of blooms to come! In the meanwhile, let me show off the bunny that has brazenly taken over the back yard and teases Hannah at the back window.

As you can see, this bunny is being pretty brave and has been cruising the back yard eating all of the plants that I have been nurturing for Miss Pitty-Pat’s snacks. Hannah is a fan of these visits, however, so it’s all good. Sorry the window is dirty… as you can see, it is at ground level and the rain splashes up dirt. On the other hand, if it wasn’t at ground level the bunny wouldn’t be looking in at Hannah!
Books

I’m still working my way through the science fiction series from last week, but last night I switched over to a new book for my book club. I’m not too far into it, but it is starting out strong.

I’m back in Mexico!

I lived for years in a city located right at the border with Mexico along the edge of the Pacific Ocean; reading this book makes me long for good Mexican food and the colors, smells, and sounds of the city I came to age in. I want a good taco!! Is it too much to ask for fresh fruit and ocean spray? Maybe a little barbacoa? Anyway, starting this book makes me remember the abandoned American Dirt sitting on my shelf. Guess I’m going to be in Mexico instead of outer space for the next week.

Have a great week, everyone!!

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

Footnote:

Where is this city that I’m waxing nostalgic about? It would be Imperial Beach, California. Here’s a shot I stole off Facebook of the street I used to live on…

Doesn’t this make you long for tacos, salty air, and the call of seagulls? Of course, classmates who had gone to Mexico City told me that our version of tacos was pathetic compared to the authentic, street cart versions they discovered there.

The Saturday Update: Week 29

Ugh. I’m still struggling with the heat and I’m STILL in a flare. I spent another couple days in bed, talked to my rheumatologist, and really didn’t get too much done. The nightly news is just awful (seriously, how much worse can 2020 get? Don’t ask!), Hannah has decided that all of the best toys are KNITTED, Covid-19 cases are surging in my state, and my doctor has re-emphasized that I am totally on lockdown. No visitors. None. Well, if they stay outside, keep their mask on, and stay 10 feet away maybe one of my sons can come… Sigh. My joints are not getting better, and it is still too risky for a joint injection. I have to admit to some sadness here… what good are doctors if they can’t just wave a magic wand to make you feel better??! There was, however, some good news this week.

My governor has ordered everyone to wear masks in this state. At last!! I went to the grocery store late this evening (which I am not supposed to do, but the kitten needed more food, and I absolutely needed cheesecake…), and every single person in the store had a mask on. People made obvious efforts to give each other space. Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone!! Don’t tell my doctor you saw me, okay, and thank you so much for being kind to me.

Also, the store had some cute orchid plants for sale, but more about that later.

Knitting

I started out the week working on my Breath and Hope shawl, but as the heat outside built and my flare intensified, I just wasn’t able to keep my attention on it. I decided that I didn’t have the brain power to work on my other glove either, so Hannah and I headed up to the yarn stash to see what I could find to knit some simple, mindless projects.

I forgot all about this yarn! I bought it to use with my latest V-Neck Boxy sweater. I decided to make a simple little cowl that would be small and easy to stuff into a Hannah-proof project bag.
I decided to make a Willow cowl. I always wanted to make one, and it would be simple to do as it uses a very simple lace with no chart. My project notes are here.

I has also found a great shawl pattern, Far Away Dreams by Joji Locatelli,  that starts out with lots of simple garter stitching. I had some yarn left over from a sweater that I knitted last winter, so I dragged it out and wound it up too. Hannah helped.

Yarn to knit Far Away Dreams shawl.
Yarns to knit Far Away Dreams shawl by Joji Locatelli. The pink will be the garter stitch interior of the shawl and the lace border will be knit using the pink and the gray.
It doesn’t look all that appealing in the indoor light this evening, but this pink garter is easy, soothing knitting that I’m cranking out with a little help from Hannah.
Garden

Yeah, I’m not going outside in this heat. Poor garden. It got some water and I’m pretty sure that it’s still alive, but that’s it. Let me offer up a poorly shot photo of my new orchid. 🙂

The light for this photo is just awful, but you can sort of see it. It’s a creamy white with beautiful purple and rose highlights. 
I was taking the picture really fast because Miss Hannah was all over the new orchids. They had tissue paper and ribbons on them… “new toys,” thought Hannah. I have those ribbons off the plants now!

By the way, I did notice that my potato plant in flourishing in spite of the neglect that happened this week. Figures. It’s growing taller than the dead rose twig coming up through the plant. I think that it’s growing to just spite me now.

Books
I’m back in Outremer learning all about King Baldwin IV and the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Have a great week, everyone!!

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

Footnote:

What is this flare that I am whining complaining about? A flare is a surge of symptoms in both number and severity. In my case my constant fatigue gets a lot worse, my joints and muscles become pretty painful, eczema eruptions appear, and my gastrointestinal symptoms intensify. If I walk into the hot air outside I can’t breathe. Bad scleroderma, bad!! I’m on more drugs at the moment, staying on oxygen through the day, and surviving on yogurt and simple carbs. Next week has a better forecast and I’m looking forward to eating some great green chili!!

The Saturday Update: Week 28

My mom once had a year that was just horrible. She was in a car wreck that totaled her car. She took a terrible fall, broke her pelvis, and had to use a cane for a couple of months. Okay, she took the fall while roller skating: she was that type of mom! 🙂 While still using the cane she was struck by a rattlesnake that was napping under her car when she put her key into the car door to open it. The only good luck in this was that she had the cane to beat off the snake after it bit her. “Some years you should just stay in bed,” we teased her. What can I say… we kids were brats!

My goodness, but 2020 is really turning out to be one of those years! We all know about the pandemic, the lockdowns, the resulting economic downturn, and the protests against police brutality and racial inequality that are churning through our cities here in the US. Then there’s the murder hornets,  and the methamphetamine-crazed alligators (AKA Meth-Gators) in the American south. How crazy is this? I mean, I kind of expect earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters (seriously, at this point I am kind of nervous about the volcano in Yellowstone National Park…), but how much more crazy can there be in one year? I mean it: what would be the most outrageous thing that you could ever imagine on the 2020 Bingo card?

Did you guess Bunny Ebola? Bunny Ebola!!!

That’s right. There was a news alert that Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease, V2, AKA Bunny Ebola, was spreading through rabbit populations in Colorado on my phone this week. It’s highly contagious and fatal to rabbits; the alert had a lot of warnings for rabbit owners and people who might come in contact with rabbits… The bunnies above are the ones that live on my block and hang out daily in my yard…

2020, KNOCK IT OFF!!!!

Some years should just be spent in bed…

Knitting

It was hot this week, so I really stayed indoors and got some knitting done.

I finished the first tipless glove this week and am pretty happy with it, but I want to move the thumb gusset over a few more stitches into the palm on the left glove.

I had about 50 grams of yarn from the stash to make these gloves, and this finished one with all of the scraps of yarn attached weighs 23 grams, and there is still 27 grams on the ball. It’s going to be close! My Ravelry notes are here.

I also made some good progress on the Breathe and Hope shawl by Casapinka.

The Breathe and Hope shawl is designed with textured sections, each different, between the corrugated stripes sections. I’m getting better knitting the textured stitch sections; they feature knit-below stitches which are new to me so I need to pay attention to what I’m doing. Now that I’ve mastered the new hand motion I’m getting much faster and hope to get the shawl finished this coming week. My Ravelry notes are here.

Garden

It has been really hot this week with no rain. I mean, crispy leaf hot! The plants are all feeling pretty surly and there isn’t much blooming going on, and even less growing. Poor plants. The only thing that is even halfway interesting going on in the garden is the appearance of a potato plant.

What a sad little potato plant, right?! At least the bugs are getting a meal from it…

I didn’t want a potato plant. What I wanted was a new rose bush!! I tried to get a new Charles Darwin rose plant from cuttings in potatoes using this technique that I found online. Right. I now have two potato plants and not a rose in sight. Sigh. Still, they might be interesting in the fall… I think that these are Yukon Gold potatoes, which I like. The way the world is going I might be happy for these potatoes…

Books

I am reading the most wonderful, thought-provoking book this week!

This is the sequel to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, which was a good book that I just loved.

I hardly know how to describe this book. It’s clever and tech-oriented in a way that people much younger than I am relate to better, but I think I’m keeping up okay. Here’s the plot: there is a battle for the future of our species being waged between two envoys sent to Earth to save us; our team of heroes are working through social media, online cryptomining, and virtual reality with one of the envoys, the robot we met in the first book known as Carl, in an effort to secure the future that Carl is constructing for us. The alternative envoy has launched his own effort to mold the future of humankind while destroying the good guys. What’s in the balance? Free will. Carl would preserve it for humankind, and the other guy…  not so much. There is lots of action, and twisty turns, as we are told this story through the voices of the different participants of “Team Carl”. This book is very imaginative while also being timely; as the online war swirls around me over Covid-related issues (open the schools, wear a mask, testing, etc.) in my own community, I can completely imagine the path of humanity being determined through constructed alternative realities and directed messaging; in other words, you can transform behaviors through culture shifts instead of policy. What a thought provoking book!

Oh yeah, there is also a potato plant in the book. How weird is that?!

Have a great week, everyone!!

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

Footnotes:
Hannah is 4 months old today! I’m just having so much fun with her. She really is turning out to be the perfect kitten for me. She mostly ignores my knitting, but does she do damage to the paper patterns!

My city went under a mandatory mask mandate this week. Finally! Yay! Am I now safe to move around in the larger community? Nope. Not so much. The culture hasn’t yet shifted… See why that book is timely? Several states near my own are experiencing huge upticks in cases, and as our hospitals continue to fill (with patients from these other states) I’m thinking that the shift will eventually come. In the meantime I’m happily home knitting with Hannah.

The Saturday Update: Week 21

It was a really nice week. It was a warm and sunny week. It was a work in the garden week. It was a baking cookies week. It was, especially, a knitting week!

Knitting
I’ve made a lot of progress on the latest knitted cat project. This pattern is Cat by Claire Garland. My Ravelry notes are here.

Last night I got Maya’s ears and her eyes done. Now I have the white knitting of her tummy, neck and chin to do and then it will be time to sew her up! I have some idea of adding snippets of black yarn to make her have a longer coat, but we’ll see how that goes… I plan to start with her tail which is immensely fluffy. Do you remember Maya the cat? Here’s my first post about her.

I’m still fussing over yarns to knit a Breathe and Hope shawl by Casapinka. I finally decided to cast on with these two yarns to make a first shawl that I can use to learn the pattern. These colors are ones that I like a lot and will go with most of my wardrobe.
Here’s the problem: reading over the pattern I didn’t have a clear idea of how the yarns display in the shawl. I’m using these two yarns that I like but don’t desperately love to learn the pattern before I cast on again with the yarns that I love immensely…
These guys!! The plan is to double fade these guys as I work on down the shawl. Now that I’m working it I’m wondering if I can break the color changes by sections in the shawl. Stay tuned… I just realzed that I need to be weighing the balls of yarn while knitting the practice shawl…
I’m also making some good progress on my Garter Snake Cowl. I’m almost to the point where the garter stitch begins. My Ravelry notes are here.
Garden

Lots of weeding is going on and babying of plants that are considering whether they would like to bloom soon, or maybe just grow some more for awhile. Those darn plants! I try to convince them to do both at once but they just do whatever they want no matter how much food and fertilizer they get.

Today the first  bloom on my ice plant in the front flower bed opened. Yay! Soon there will be 5 feet of this blooming happiness along my front walk.
This snapdragon plant, a runaway from a flower bed, is now blooming like its life depends on it. Which kind of is the situation as this guy just appeared in a rocked section of the front yard. I’m watering and feeding it anyway because… well… just look at it! This one little plant is almost the size of the big tub behind it!
Finally, I am happy to report that my rose bushes, which were heavily frost damaged a few weeks ago, have all rebounded and are putting out new growth. This bush, a Home Run rose, was a big one covered with blooms all last summer. Last year’s canes are mostly lost, but there is an abundance of new growth coming up from the roots.. Yay!! I won’t be completely sure about what I have until this plant blooms, but I’m pretty sure it was not a grafted plant, so I should be getting the rose blooms that I want.

I’ve deep watered those roses every week using a big bucket and a tube to slowly siphon water over to the roots, and two weeks ago gave them a nice dose of fertilizer by the same method. Success!! Can’t wait to see the blooms.

Books

I’m still reading the treasuring The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel. It is such a rich book with precise text and reflective sequences that I am reading it slowly. Also, did I mention that there are 784 pages? Every morning I make a latte and take the book outside with me to read while I enjoy the morning traffic in the back yard. Today there was a blue jay! Did I get a picture? No. I did not. I’ll see what I can do if he come back…

Have a great week, everyone!!

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

2019 Challenges: Crushed Them!

The end of the year is in sight.  I have books that aren’t finished and some projects that still aren’t done, but I’m good with my progress on the three challenges that I set for myself this year. There were three big ones: removing skeins of yarn from my enormous yarn stash, completing and logging knitted projects on Ravelry, and finishing books that I logged on my page at Goodreads. I did really well this year! Here’s the numbers.

Knitting

I set a goal of 30 projects for myself in the Challenge at Ravelry. This was 5 more than last year, and I managed 25 projects the year before, so I was comfortable with the number. Since I was focusing on using up yarn in the stash I really was responsible about logging each project and recording the yarn used and the amounts as best I could. I got lots of things done this year: lots of socks, mitts, sweaters, and some odd items along the way.

Seven sweaters jumped off my needles this year, all of them huge successes; comfy and a joy to wear. Here are some of them (Clockwise from the upper left): Koivua (Caitlin Hunter), Nordiska (Caitlin Hunter), Sturgill (Caitlin Hunter), Daelyn (Isabell Kraemer), and Understated (Joji Locatelli).
I made lots of shawls, socks, fingerless mitts, and even some gnomes this Christmas. The shawl shown here is What the Fade?! by Andrea Mowry and the gnomes are Here We Gnome Again by Sarah Schira.

There were lots of other projects that came off my needles; too many to show here. MacKenzie got a mouse and a blanket. I made cowls, dishcloths, and some thrummed mittens. It was a great year! As of tonight I have completed 48 projects, and the number is actually more as I combined some little projects together in the same Ravelry project page. Knitting goal crushed!

Yarn Destash

I resolved in January to get at least 50 skeins of yarn out of the yarn stash. At my high point in December I had gotten out 75 skeins, but a little trip to my favorite yarn store saw me buying 4 skeins of my most favorite color mohair, more yarn for the cat that I am knitting, and some yarn that I felt I had to grab when I saw it. Nine more skeins walked out of the store with me that day. Whatever. When you deduct the yarn from my total I still got 66 skeins of yarn out of the stash this year. Yarn destash goal crushed!!

Yarn stash.
Not to worry; I still have lots of yarn where those skeins came from in the stash!

Books

Lots of reading happened this year. I began to listen to audiobooks while knitting and once that happened the book count steadily climbed through the year. I set myself a goal of 50 books at Goodreads; as of tonight I have finished 65 books this year. Reading goal crushed!!

I tried to pick my favorite books from the list, but that was too hard. So many 5 star books! Here are some of the ones that really made an impression on me:

Some of my favorites:
    • Where the Crawdads Sing is a magical tale of an isolated young woman, abandoned as a child by almost everyone who should have cared for her, who grows to become a gifted naturalist in her own right. Living with nature in a coastal marsh area, guided by her understanding of the biological systems in the ecosystem around her, she becomes the focus of a murder investigation. Is she the victim of prejudice? Did she do it? Was there actually a crime? You will have to read the book for yourself!
    • Blowout speaks for itself in the title. Hey, I live in Colorado. Oil money is big here, the risks to the population are real, and I remember when we had earthquakes from the fracking operations. Nowadays there is a battle to control how close drilling can be to human habitation in this state; there are a lot of jobs involved, but there was that home that exploded in Firestone, Colorado… Did you know that an early fracking operation in Colorado involved a nuclear explosive that was detonated underground? Yeah. I highly recommend this book.
    • Childen of Ruin speaks to one of my pet peeves in science fiction writing. Why do we always depict aliens as being like us? You know, bipeds who speak and have hands. Beings that think like us. Why should that be? This book goes there using models of intelligence found right here on earth. Octopuses are way smart, but their method of information processing is very different from our own, and they use visual cues in their communication. Portia spiders have object permanence and are canny predators who use a model of problem solving that is formidable and different from our own. Slime molds get together from time to time and act like a multicellular organism… how do they coordinate that trick? Bacteria have more genes in their population than any one member can store; learning is fluid and travels through the population as members swap genes with each other. This book made me think about all these models of intelligence and made me look at my plants and animals with new eyes. One of my jade plants had a slime mold last summer and I put it right outside… best to be safe!
    • The Night Tiger was a huge gift to me. Magic. Dreams. The interface between the spirit world and our own. Tigers who become people, or is it the other way around? It was just a fun, wonderful read with a strong female character in the lead. I loved it.
    • There were so many other 5 stars in my list, but I can’t write about then all. Here’s a list: Ninth House, The Night Fire, The Testaments, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, The Guest Book , The Clockmaker’s Daughter, and The Alice Network all made the list.

So that’s that. I made it through all of my resolved goals and I’m now thinking about new ones. It’s time to take out the spinning wheel and the loom, don’t you think? That, however, will be another post.