On My Needles: Two Socks and a Scarf

I’ve been knitting like crazy and hatching plans. Why, you ask? Well… it’s Olympics time! Time for a great sweater (or two). I’m so excited about getting some serious knitting done while watching the winter games.

Except… I have these WIPs lurking downstairs bleating pitifully. It really is sad. Somehow they know that they are on the verge of being abandoned for weeks to come. For the last few days I’ve taken their cries to heart and have been knitting on them like crazy. Here they are:

These are simple vanilla socks in the pattern by Rachel Coopey called “Dave“. The yarn is a really nice sock yarn from madelinetosh called twist light. This is a simple pattern. Don’t you think I should get these done before Friday night?
These socks have been languishing for way too long. Another Rachel Coopey pattern, “Eugene“, they are being knitted from a sock blank dyed by Bonkers. The sock has an interesting pattern that you can’t see well because of the kinky yarn (hey, it was unraveled from the sock blank. It’s trying to be good…), but I think it will look really cool as soon as I finish knitting and block the socks.

Socks are fast. I can almost knit the Dave one while reading. If I work really steady on these I might, just might, get them done before the start of the Olympics.

That just leaves the Mixology Scarf. Right. That is so not going to happen.

Knitted fabric.
Here’s the beginning of the shawl. Nice, huh. I only have about 6 more feet of knitting to go. This is Mixology by Casapinka.

I love the colors of the shawl. I’m completely intrigued to discover how all the different colors will interact with each other. I couldn’t wait to get started on it the day that I cast on. I still am really happy about it.

Poor thing. It is going to be hibernating until I get those Olympic projects done. I have to knit a sweater. It is TRADITION!! I’ve done it for 4 years in a row, and I really need a new sweater. I live in Colorado, and March is typically our snowiest month. I’ll be rocking the new knit as I shovel my way free after some storm or another.

But during the storm I’ll be knitting on Mixology. Hang on, little guy. Your day is coming.

In case you’re wondering:

  • I do know about Ravellenics.  I struggle with a official, online commitment when it comes to knitting, but … maybe it is time for me to get my feet wet. There has to be a sweater event, right?
  • I’ve made an organizational chart of yarns, patterns, and am trying to decide which sweater to start on during the opening of the games. I have a wonderful bluish grey Rios yarn, but there is also some happy red Lamb’s Pride calling my name. Both are cold weather sweater yarns. Can you feel a new post coming?



Introducing Marfa

The local yarn store where I knit, Colorful Yarns, has a sample shawl displayed just inside the front door. My best knitting bud (that would be Deb, the utterly fearless and adventurous knitter) and I kept looking at it and trying it on. So cute. Just the right size. Brioche. Garter. Shawl lust occurred. The sample was knit in black and a golden yellow multi yarn… not my colors, but I could see the potential. The pattern, Marfa, and I went home together when I left that afternoon.

Black Elephant Yarns
The shawl really makes contrasting yarns shine. I already had these in my stash waiting: “we want to be a really cool shawl”, they cried.. I let them out of the bin to see how they would play together. The names of the colorways were a little worrisome (She’s Like Heroin and Wasting Light), but they got along okay.
Start of shawl.
Oh, don’t they get along well?

I’m not going to lie. The brioche and I had some misunderstandings at first. The pattern and I had some disagreements and mistakes were made. The cats insisted that they should get their claws into the squishy yumminess and had to be put into time out (AKA the garage).

But I got over all of that as the shawl grew. So cool!

Last week I cast off, blocked, and took it out for some pictures.

Close up of knitted fabric.
I just love the way the turquoise in the black peaks through in the brioche.
Finished shawl.
And here is what the whole shawl looks like. This pattern is Marfa by This.Bird.Knits, and my project notes on Ravelry are here.

I haven’t woven in the ends yet, but it is done, right? Ha! I’ll get to it in the next day or so. I’m waiting for some snow.

Hope you all had a great weekend.

MacKenzie Speaks: My Blankie, My Blankie!!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Sleeping Cat
As you can see, I’m catching a little nap on the Mother of Cats’ Find Your Fade shawl. So nice. So squishy. Nothing quite like wool for a nap blanket.

For some reason the Mother of Cats gets upset when I sleep on her shawl. She keeps putting it on to wear and then she gets crabby when I try climb in and sleep on it on her lap. No matter how much I knead and purr she gets snippy about “snags” and pushes me off. She is so difficult sometimes. Really, she needs to learn to share her things a little better. Yellow Boy and I try to share when we’re sleeping on the shawl, after all.

Look at these yarns that she got out to make me my own blanket!!

Last week she went digging though her yarn stash (Woohoo! I got to go exploring in the stash while she worked!) and found these leftovers from socks and shawls to make me a blanket.

Cat and knitting.
She used a really simple pattern just like the one that makes the wash clothes for the kitchen.
Cat and knitting.
She changed the colors every time she started to get bored, and did some fading of the colors while she worked. Not as nice as the Find Your Fade shawl, but still not bad.
Cat and knitting.
Last Friday she finally got my blankie all done for me. This is mine, mine, mine. All mine!! Forget what I said about sharing with Yellow Boy!
Sleeping cat.
Maybe the Mother of Cats isn’t that bad after all. Now I can sleep right next to her while she is wearing her shawl in bed knitting.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?


Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The cats have developed such an attachment to my Find Your Fade shawl (Okay, it is half silk/alpaca…) that they jump on it at every opportunity and even have taken to circling like sharks while I’m wearing it trying to find a loose end to sleep on. This is one big shawl, so there are ends for them to take advantage of.
  • I’ve been keeping their claws trimmed but they still managed to snag the shawl. Bad cats!! Well, not all that bad. They just need their own wool yumminess to sleep on. I wanted something simple that I could wash regularly.
  • The pattern I used was Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth on Ravelry. I knitted using yarn bits (including the silk/alpaca leftovers) and size 4 needles. The final blanket is MacKenzie sized.
  • I still need to make a blankie for Yellow Boy. For him I’ll double up the yarn and knit on size 6 needles; I have lots of projects calling my name, so he gets a marled blanket.
  • Yellow Boy on the Fade.
    See why I need to make another blanket?

The Scleroderma Chronicles: Rocking the Spoonie Clock

I, along with a lot of other people with chronic illnesses, consider myself to be a “spoonie”. If you’ve never heard of spoon theory, it is a metaphor that describes the intricate bargaining game that those of us with limited energy resources play everyday to balance our activities with the little gas in our tanks.  Christine Miserandino developed the spoon theory and described it in an essay on her blog in 2005; trying to explain to a friend how she managed fatigue with her lupus, she grabbed spoons and used them as props to represent discrete energy packets. If you only have a limited number of energy units (spoons) to use in a day, you are painfully aware of how many spoons everything that you do costs. A shower? That is a spoon. Walk to the mailbox to pick up the mail? Another spoon. If you want to grocery shop, plan ahead. When the spoons for the day are gone, you are done. If you planned badly, you are basically toast. Get ready for some bad days ahead.

Owner and her cat.
Wrapped in layers of knitted goods, struggling to stay warm, MacKenzie and I enjoy a late night purr break at the height of my flare in December.

Early last December I ran through my spoons and just kept going for another couple of days. I knew I was headed for trouble, but I was in a situation where there were no other options for me. Take care of today and deal with tomorrow when it comes, I told myself.

Oh dear. The flare arrived and fatigue descended with a vengeance. I slept 10-12 hours a night and collapsed in exhaustion for a nap at least twice a day. If energy is counted in spoons, I was down to only about 10 for the day. Not only were the spoons my problem; it appeared that as soon as I got onto my feet and went into motion an internal clock started running. No matter what I did, I could not go more than 2.5 hours without a nap.

Christmas shopping!! AARRGGG!!!

Thank goodness for the internet. I made plans and checked the availability of items I wanted to buy using my phone while in bed. I made sure stores close to me carried the items that I wanted. I made shopping lists in a little spiral notebook that I carry with me (hello… brain fog!!) to help me remember what I’m looking for while in the stores. I planned shopping routes that were short loops that would take me to three stores/stops max and then get me home before my time and energy ran out. I planned the trips for times when the parking lots would be almost empty so I wouldn’t have to walk far.

So, one day I planned and cooked food for the week. Who knew making spaghetti was so exhausting? Before I could get the dishwasher loaded the timer on my spoonie clock went off and I was done.

The next day I made one of the loops. Whew. I got right up from the nap, started up the car and headed off to Kaiser for my monthly blood testing. Then on to Target… hurry, hurry, it has already been an hour. I finished that loop at the book store where I shared a laugh with a mom who was making the same stops as me on her own shopping route. She had also gone to the public library, though. She looked at me kind of weird when I said I had decided to not go to the library as it was too far to walk in from the parking lot there. Ugh. No way was I going to explain about the spoons to her. No time. My clock was ticking; I was at the 2 hour mark and had to check out and drive home. Hurry, hurry. I’m now having trouble walking because my legs don’t really want to go… Brain fog is starting to close in and my head feels buzzy…

Home. Nap. I didn’t even take the packages out of the car until after the nap.

Two more days, two more loops, and I had gotten everything and even got stuff mailed out on one of the loops. Careful planning, lots of patience, and an acknowledgement of my limitations went a long way in getting me through everything. Did you know that if you go grocery shopping late at night there is no line. True fact!

For more than a month I was careful with the spoons and never ran down my spoonie clock. I knitted in bed. I ate my little pre-planned meals and ordered things off the internet when I could. I took lots of naps, kept up on my meds, and did everything I could to manage my symptoms. The Turkish Hell socks lengthened as the list in my notebook got items crossed off.

Today I am through the flare and I must have at least 20 spoons a day. Maybe even 25. I’m rich!! The spoonie clock is up to 6 hours. That’s pretty darn good.

You know, people are always telling me how great I look.

If only they could see my spoonie clock ticking away.





Starting the Year Right: Finished Objects Already

So, last year didn’t end quite as well as I had hoped. I was in a flare of my autoimmune diseases (systemic sclerosis and Sjogren’s Syndrome), drowning in fatigue and befuddled with brain fog. Ugh. Not the best for knitting or anything else come to think of it. Christmas shopping was a challenge, Christmas cooking didn’t happen (expect for a cheesecake!), and I took almost a month to do one knitting projects (ahem… the Turkish Hell Socks).

This, however, is a new year. As in, my energy is coming back, I rediscovered my special cache of “yarns I love beyond all reason” (seriously, that is the label that I put on the storage bin…), and I started casting on with abandon. I have had these projects waiting to go for weeks and weeks, my needles were empty, and… knitting happened!!

I made myself a cute, cute, cute winter hat. This is the Copycat C.C. Beanie. My project notes on Ravelry are here. I have some more of this yarn and am thinking about how to make fingerless mitts with the same pattern.

My niece in Virginia contacted me right at the end of the year to ask if I could make her some fingerless mitts and a pair of the ones with dragon scales for her to gift to her own niece. Wow. Time flies. This is a sort-of grandniece who is now an adult. How did I get here so quickly? Anyway, you know I bought the supplies the weekend before New Years and here are the finished mitts.

DragonPaw Mitts
Pretty darn spectacular, don’t you think? These are actually warmer than you would think, as there is a layer of wool between the aluminum scales and the wearer. I mailed them off to Virginia yesterday. My Ravelry notes are here.

I also have two pairs of socks and a couple of shawls on the needles. Crazy, right. The socks are for simple knitting while doing errands, and the shawls are for binge television watching and long evening knitting. I don’t want to bore you with all the pictures of knitting bits on needles, but this Marfa shawl is totally worth a picture.

Shawl on the needles.
This triangular Marfa shawl is garter stitch with strips of two color brioche. After a couple of false starts (and some frogging) I am rocking the brioche and really loving the way this looks. My Ravelry page for this project is here.

I have to admit, I have already started digging in the stash to put together the yarns for another of these brioche shawls. I need to seriously cruise Ravelry to see what else is there. Brioche love. Who knew?

Finally, I have had a sweater all knitted up and stored in a plastic bin waiting to get finished. For weeks.  Kind of embarrassing as this sweater was knit from the neck down and needed very little finishing. In my defense, I was hunting for the perfect buttons. Feeling pretty good about myself after I completed the hat I took it out one afternoon and finished it up just in time for a weekend snow storm.

Buttons being sew onto the sweater.
These simple wooded buttons aren’t all that special, but they were certainly hard to find. I needed them to be exactly the right size with two holes big enough for the yarn.
Here’s the finished sweater. My goodness, I do love this pattern. This is the second drijfhout sweater that I’ve made, and it is extremely comfy and versatile. My notes on Ravery are here.

You know what they say, start out as you mean to go. I’m feeling pretty good now, I’m catching up on chores, and the knitting is just jumping off of my needles.  Way to go, 2018.

We’re having snow here tomorrow. I’m ready, winter. Bring it on!

MacKenzie Speaks: The Tale of the Turkish Hell Socks

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat face
I know that it has been a long time. I hope that you haven’t been missing me.

The Mother of Cats has been a severe disappointment for just weeks and weeks. She caught some kind of cold early in December, carried on like a baby for over a week (nasal spray, salt water gargling, boxes of tissues… Yellow Boy and I became quite concerned about her mental health…) and COMPLETELY ignored our needs. As if that wasn’t enough, when she finally got over the virus, she then became even worse. She slept for hours and hours, stayed in her bed even when she was awake, and totally failed to deliver our cookies on time. SHE DIDN’T EVEN DO CHRISTMAS!!! which is totally our favorite time of the year. Hello… Christmas trees = world’s best cat toys. How could she have failed us this way?

She said she was in a flare. Whatever.

When she was awake she worked endlessly on these socks for her cousin’s Christmas present.

Yarn Blank
The yarn for the socks was from this sock blank that she bought at a yarn festival. She made it into a ball and wouldn’t let me help even a little bit.
She wanted to make these complicated socks for her cousin. This cousin is special… they were born two days apart and are kind of like displaced twins. This cousin once gave her a whole quilt for a present. The least she could do was to make these socks! She started knitting the first week of December. Lots of time. I looked forward to days of great knitting together.
But she was too tired to knit very long on them at a time, and can I be frank, she was pretty stupid with brain fog. Lots of mistakes. Lots of stress. She kept chasing me away while I was helping. She tried to knit in bed, which is MY place. So I ate the yarn a couple of time. If she gave me cookies in a timely manner these things wouldn’t happen.
Heel of the sock.
Her lack of energy and general stupidness was really obvious when she knitted the heels. It took her THREE HOURS to pick up those stitches to knit the afterthought heel. She started sighing and pushing me off the bed. She began to refer to the knitting project as the Turkish socks from hell. The Mother of Cats was really in trouble.
Cat and knitting.
I just kept on encouraging her. I purred a lot. I settled for fewer cookies. I even stopped eating the yarn. She was really in pitiful shape.
Unfinished socks.
By Christmas Day she had finished this much. Her cousin reminded her that Christmas continues until January 6th.
Finished socks.
Finally, finally they were done!
Finished socks.
Those horrid and ill behaved heels look pretty good, don’t they?

The Turkish Hell socks were packed up last week and mailed out. On Saturday, the last day of Christmas they arrived safely in their new home. They had better behave themselves and last for years and years; I would hate to travel all the way across the state to whack them into shape!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?


Notes from the Mother of Cats:

These socks, called Classic Kilim, are from the book Around the World in Knitted Socks by Stephanie van der Linden. The socks were supposed to have tassels and embroidery; that so did not happen!!Here is the info on Ravelry with more info about the book. My notes on Ravelry are here.

On December 1st I got my pneumonia vaccine even though I had been struggling a little that week. That night my youngest son became ill with complications of diabetes and was rushed to the ER . I spent the next 2 days/nights at the ICU with him. Yep. About the time my son returned to work and I moved back home I was sick;  my autoimmune diseases flared while I was fighting through the viral illness. My Sjogren’s symptoms have been off the chart and crushing fatigue and brain fog appeared along with them. This week I am better and have been knitting up a storm and planning blog posts. Hopefully I’ll be online again in a couple of more days.

Happy New Year everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving: Arm Warmer Mitts Pattern

All week I’ve been getting ready for the holiday tomorrow. The turkey is in the fridge (and at exactly 2pm tomorrow afternoon he will slide into the oven!), the pies are on the counter, and the rest of the fixings are patiently resting in the fridge. All the cleaning is done except for the last minute vacuuming (hello… cats!), and even the stash has become organized. Through all of this I have also been churning out long mitts that are also arm warmers. It’s cold now. I need arm warmers!!

Hand in MItt.
Look at how cute these are! This yarn, Western Sky Knits Magnolia Sock, is 10% cashmere. Yum!!

I have Raynaud’s syndrome; when I get cold I lose circulation to my hands, feet and even my face. It can happen really quickly, too. Look at what happened to me while shopping in the produce section of the grocery store last night!

I was picking out fruit and salad from the refrigerated cases when I realized I was cold and my hands were numb. Yep. Raynaud’s attack. I finished my shopping with the sleeves from my hoodie pulled down over my hands.

During the winter I cope by wearing lots of simple layers that can be easily adjusted to adapt to changing conditions. Since I’m a knitter I have lots of socks, hand warmers, and shawls that I can layer on with reckless abandon. Seriously, I’m a walking knitwear advertisement in cold weather. I’m thinking about leg warmers for under my jeans and for my arms… arm warmers!!

The perfect product would be simple arm warmers that could be pulled down over my hands and fingers if I need it (so I put in a slit for my thumb), but could also be worn pulled up my arms to keep my hands free for household tasks like when I’m working with water or cooking (with cold things from the fridge). The warmers also needed to be long enough to pull up my arm, but should also be able to just bunch around my wrist. Snug enough to slide under sweaters, but loose enough to slip over gloves. Multi-purpose warmness. Take that, winter!

So here there are. I’ve made three pairs so far and I have another pair on the needles. I am just rocking these guys.

Arm Warmer Mitts
The yarn with color stripes is Chasing Rabbits Fern yarn. The fern is a little thinner than the Magnolia sock, so those warmers hug my arms better. The cashmere ones are just wonderful to wear while reading (and knitting) in bed. I love these mitts!! My Ravelry project notes are here.

As you can see, I have many things to be thankful for. My hands aren’t great (thanks, scleroderma), but they work for knitting, and because I knit I’m in better shape than most other patients with my condition. I have Raynaud’s, but because I knit I am able to create product that help me beat it into submission. I am knitting in a time of absolutely fabulous Indy dyed yarns that make me happy with every single stitch. The fabulous colors in the yarn mean that even a simple stockinette item looks great. I am thankful. Very, very thankful.

Hey, maybe you would like some mitts too! Here’s the pattern.

Arm Warmer Mitts

Needles: size 1 (2.25 mm) double point or cable needles. I used 2 16″ cable needles and split the stitches between them. Adjust my directions to fit your needle choice.

Yarn: Fingering or sock yarn. These mitts each took about 250 yards.

Right Hand:
1. CO 72 stitches using Old Norwegian CO or any other CO that you are fond of. It needs to be a little stretchy. Join in the round with 36 stitches on each of 2 16″ circular needles. Mark the start of the round.
2. Complete K1P1 ribbing for 12 rounds.
3. Knit rounds in stockinette until mitt length is 4.5 inches from the CO.
4. Decrease: K5, K2tog, PM, K1, SSK, K rest of the round. (70 stitches)
5. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
6. Decrease: Knit until 2 stitches before mark, K2tog, SM, K1, SSK, K rest of the round. (68 stitches)
7. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 once, and then step 6 once more. (64 stitches)
9. Thumb opening: turn the work at the end of the round and purl back on the WS to the start of the round. (remove the mark when you come to it). Turn the work again and knit the RS to the start of the round. Continue turning the work and working rows in stockinette (purl on the WS, knit on the RS) until the thumb gap is 2.0 – 2.5 inches long; check fit on your hand and knit until you like the size of the gap. End with a RS row.
10. Return to knitting rounds. Knit one round, closing the gap for the thumb.
11. Complete K1P1 ribbing for 11 rounds.
12. CO in K1P1 pattern making sure it won’t be too tight around your fingers when worn.

Left Hand:
Complete steps 1-3 as for right hand.
4. Decrease: K 62 stitches (10 stitches left in the round) K2tog, PM, K1, SSK, K to end. (70 inches)
5. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
6. Decrease: K until 2 stitches before the mark, K2tog, SM, K1, SSK, K to end of round.
7. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 once, and then step 6 once more. (64 stitches)
9-12. Same as for the right hand.

Weave in the ends. Add buttons or other embellishments to mark the tops of the mitts if you wish.

The finished mitts are 12 inches long, 4.5 inches wide at the top and 3.75 inches wide at the lower (hand) edge.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  May your day be a good one, and stay warm!