Your Wednesday Sunshine: Breathe and Hope

I am an American. I live in an integrated neighborhood in a diverse city: we are in an uproar right now.

I am a biologist. We are in an uncontrolled outbreak of a new, highly contagious virus with a high fatality rate.

I am the daughter of parents who were raised in the Great Depression.

I am an autoimmune disease patient. My latest blood results just came in, and I am losing ground.

I can see the storm clouds on the horizon, but right now I am maintaining my peace and making plans for my future as I knit in the garden, surrounded by shafts of sunlight coming through the leaves of the tree above me.

There is a single, perfect, dandelion seed puff in the lawn…
and this leaf was on the ground beside my swinging garden chair…
as I knitted away on my current knitting project, Breathe and Hope by Casapinka.
Out in front of my house there are baby squirrels frolicking in the grass and my brand new Apricot Drift roses are starting to bloom. 

In the eye of a perfect storm, I am outdoors seeking peace in my garden with the sunshine all around me. In a little while I’m going to head into the house and do what I can to address the issues swirling around me.

In the meantime,

Get some sunshine for yourself, and

Breathe and Hope, people!!

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.

The Saturday Update: Week 17

I’ve been busy this week, and I have almost nothing to show off for it. I did a lot of cooking: more pumpkin bread, cheesy potatoes and ham casserole, shortbread cookies. The cheese grater attacked one of my fingers, though, so there wasn’t all that much knitting going on while I healed up. (Yes, I took a picture. No, you don’t get to see it!) I sewed more masks and gave some away. I got another quilt all sandwiched together to move onto the sewing machine to start quilting. The state where I live is starting to make a transition to opening some businesses very carefully, but the city where I live has suddenly become a Covid-19 hot spot and I’m not so sure that there will be any opening of restrictions for me next week. I am so very grateful that I am better prepared to spend time at home alone then most people are because… yarn stash!!

Knitting

I did manage to get more work done on my V-Neck Boxy Sweater; I’m now about 3″ below the join below the V-neck and am knitting in the round towards the lower hem. This is great binge watching knitting, but not so great to show off until I get much further down the sweater. I do have some nice progress to show off on my Sweet & Tartan socks.

I’m below the heel on the second sock. Gee, it looks kind of sad without that hot pink I-cord added to the top ribbing. I should have this sock done in a couple of days. My Ravelry project notes are here.

Since I wasn’t knitting as much as usual while I nursing my injured finger I spent some time cleaning out the craft room. I located the directions for another couple of quilts. Casapinka published a new shawl pattern created to support local yarn shops called Breathe and Hope. Wow! I really like this little shawl. I dived into the yarn stash and started pulling out several combination of yarn possibilities. I actually have 4 combos in the project box, but this yarn is the top candidate:

I have two mini-skein sets that kind of go together. What if I faded each set as I knit down the shawl in a manner that kept the contrast going. That is, one set faded from dark->light while the other is faded in the light->dark direction. It should work, right?

I have another couple of yarns that are really calling to me too. This will be more subtle and faster to work. What do you think?

There is actually more contrast between the grey yarns in person. As soon as I put that lighter grey down next to the dark one it just burst into life. I think that it will be nice.

I organized the yarns and bought the pattern last night, but I’m not going to cast on until I have made more progress on the projects that I already have going. As soon as the socks are done and the sweater is a little further along it is going to happen!! Besides, Casapinka, who seems to be exhausted from developing this pattern and organizing the LYS event, issued two updates to the pattern today and if I give her another couple of days I’m sure that all the issues will be resolved. The last update swears that all is now fixed and that she was in Witness Protection with a bottle of gin…

Garden

This is the sad transition part of the gardening year for me. Plants that have been indoors all winter are being transitioned to life outside right now. I carry about 10 plants out for several hours each day and let them get some full sunshine. A couple of them are not happy and are dropping leaves and carrying on like babies. Seriously! They will toughen up, but right now they are looking kind of pathetic.

This hydrangea is the worst of the bunch! All of its indoor leaves burnt, died, and dropped off. Now it is putting out lots of new growth and appears to be coning through the transition okay. Once it has the new growth out and is looking more healthy I will repot it.

My outdoor flower beds are all pretty pathetic too. It is still too soon to clear out all of the winter mulch as there is sure to be another freeze or snow event; the lawn is starting to grow but it is still patchy. Ugh. Mostly I have developed a healthy flock of dandelions in all of my flower beds around all of the perennials that are just now starting to put up new shoots. I thought about weeding out one garden but there were a lot of bees swarming among the cheerful yellow dandelion blossoms, so I decided to do the right thing and let them have at it. I’m not lazy. Really, I’m not! Besides, I should give the perennials a little more time so I don’t accidently rip one of them out too.

Books

Yeah. I’ve got nothing. I’m still reading The Splendid and the Vile. We’re all the way up to 1941 and Churchill is still soldiering on through the bombings and scheming on ways to convince the US to enter the war. I am impressed by the drive, clarity of vision, and long range strategies that were employed by both leadership teams in the war, but especially by the British who had a strong culture of service to the nation. I’d feel a little better about things right now in the US if some of that was being projected by the leaders giving our nightly Covid-19 briefings.

MacKenzie Speaks: An Explosion of WIPs

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat and knitting.
Look at how far away from the knitting I am! The Mother of Cats is being mean to me.

The Mother of Cats and I have been making really good progress on her new red sweater. I’m in charge of her yarn while she works because the sweater is getting so big that it whaps me in the face while she is working. I think that the Mother of Cats should just be more careful. She is hard to train, but I keep working with her because… cookies!

Sweater
Do you see how much progress we have made?
Sleeping cat
I try to supervise her closely, but frankly all this red is kind of exhausting.

It is kind of hard on me to never be able to sit on the Mother of Cats lap while she is working. This yarn is not as soft as some of the others that she uses, and she says that knitting with this yarn makes her wrists hurt. What a whiny Mother of Cats! She needs to toughen up some more. Maybe she could catch me some mice in the garage… that would make her wrists feel better. Nope. She won’t even consider getting me some fun mice, but she did look around for some other projects for knitting breaks.

Cat and roving.
I reminded her of this really soft roving that her BKB Deb gave her.

That roving is really soft. It would make a great bed for me. Maybe a new cat blanket?! Did she use it for that? No. She did not!

Thrummed mittens.
She used little scraps of the roving to start making these mittens.

The inside of the mittens will have scraps of the roving to make them really soft and warm. She says these are called thrums. I want this for my bed! Why doesn’t the Mother of Cats do what I want? So difficult, the Mother of Cats!

Mitt Cuff.
The Mother of Cats then got bored and started on these wild mitts for her knitworthy niece in California. She wanted to experiment, she said, and needed to work on smaller needles.
Cat paw on knitting.
Ha! There is no way she can keep me off her lap while working on these. There are two balls of yarn! Maximum yarn chomping opportunities!

The Mother of Cats is getting ready to do the thumb for the wild colored mitts, and decided to take a break to plan the knitting on her computer. She says she is thinking. She is just lazy. She hasn’t been petting me and giving me cookies as much as she should. Lazy.

Dissent Cowl
Do you see what she did last night when she should have been catching me a mouse or getting the cookie container out? She started another knitting project! This one is a cowl. Thank heavens it has two yarns. You know how I feel about yarn chomping and extra balls of yarn.
Socks
Don’t forget, she still has these socks going. She takes them with her in the car to work on when she to sit around in doctor offices.

So that is what happened this week. There are so many projects going I can’t keep them all straight. There are more projects than I have cat toys!! Crazy! Completely unacceptable. She needs to go out and get me some more toys, or at least some premium cat nip, or a live mouse at the least.  I really want a mouse! Why can’t I have a mouse!!

I don’t think that the Mother of Cats loves me. She should stop knitting and get me that mouse right away!!

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<I

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

I just couldn’t help myself. The yarn for the new Daelyn sweater is hard on my wrists and the ends of my fingers are getting sore. It is wonderful yarn, but not superwash and I think that the mohair is making is a little rough on my fingers. Never mind, I told myself, just cast on another project for a break.

Things immediately got out of control:

  • The thrummed mittens will be fabulous. The Ravelry project page is here.
  • The colorful mitts for my niece (Which I blogged about a few weeks ago) are being invented using a booklet from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and another knitter’s project for inspiration. I’m working out the Fair Isle chart for the thumb on my computer now. My project notes with all of that information is here.
  • The socks are being made using the patterns in the Clinkerbell Cowl. Think of them as little clinkerbells for my feet. 🙂 My project notes are here.
  • The cowl is the Dissent Cowl. The minute I saw it I knew that I had to start knitting it. Right now the US government is experiencing a partial shutdown, and friends and neighbors around me are struggling because of it. I am also a child of public servants who spent her entire work life working for her community as a medical researcher and teacher, and I dissent!! I absolutely dissent! I plan to wear this cowl as much as possible and hope I don’t have to head off to public demonstrations in the street, but if it happens I will be sporting this fabulous knitted replication of RBG’s dissent necklace. My project notes are here.

I only managed to use up one new skein of yarn this week, but I’m just knitting on and should get some of these projects done eventually. There should be a big jump in the skein count then. Woohoo! Crazy knitting, a serious case of castonitis and stashbusting at its best. It must have been the super blood wolf moon. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

FO Friday: Week 3, Year 2019

MacKenzie has slept through most of the knitting this week, so I am going to have to post my progress in my own “voice” this week.

Sleeping MacKenzie.
Actually, the only time that I have been able to knit this week has been while he was sleeping.

I think that it is the weather. It snowed over the weekend and the days were gloomy. I had to do errands this week which left him home alone for too many hours; ocicats do not tolerate alone time well. He still misses his brother Yellow Boy. Anyway, when he was up it was all “pet the cat!” all the time. He had absolutely no interest in the knitting or yarn chomping; instead he just climbed on me, head butted my hands to make me pet him and ran his purr engine on high. He is so cute about it the knitting went away each time he showed up at my knitting chair. So, no knitting with cat pictures this week.

In spite of the needy MacKenzie I did get a lot accomplished over the week. Check this out!

Stitch detail of the cowl.
I cast on and started on a Clinkerbell Cowl for myself over the weekend. This MCN DK yarn (another Western Sky Knits score from the Estes Park Wool Market this summer) is just a joy to knit with.
Finished cowl.
By Tuesday I had the cowl done and steam blocked. I just love, love, love this piece and plan to take it out shopping in the snow this afternoon. My Ravelry project notes are here.

I also pulled out a languishing WIP and got knitting on it again. I have several skeins of Brown Sheep yarn that I have had stashed for over 10 years. Now that I am attacking the stash I have pulled myself together and am knitting steadily on this sweater to get it done while it is still cold outside.

Start of sweater.
This is a single ply wool/mohair yarn that is going to be a workhorse for me in this sweater. Can’t you just feel the cushy warmth coming right at you through the picture? You can, can’t you! That’s what I’m talking about.
Progress on my sweater.
Look at how far I got this week!

This sweater is the Daelyn Pullover by Isabell Kraemer, and the second one that I’ve made so I know that it is going to be the perfect warm sweater for casual wear. Okay, let’s be honest. That is just about every day for me these days as I am all about layered wooly comfort that will keep my Raynaud’s under control. This sweater is going to be seeing a lot of wear for sure, hopefully for years to come. My Ravelry project notes are here.

So how am I doing on the 2019 yarn stash challenge? I used up another three skeins of yarn this week!! I am now up to a grand total of 6 skeins for the year; only 44 more to go.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Dreaming and Fading…

I’ve been just cranking on my What the Fade?! shawl for the last week or so since I last wrote about it. Once I had bid the brioche section at the top of the shawl goodbye it was garter time… lots of garter. This is really easy knitting even with the fun of the fading, and MacKenzie and I have just settled in to binge watch Netflix and crank out the rows of changing colors.

Knitting
The shawl is now so big that I can’t get it open for a picture, but you can still get an idea of how it looks. I just finished fading in that light blue speckle, and there are two more colors to go before I’m done. My project notes on Ravelry are here.

Here’s the thing… I’m doing a lot of dreaming about yarn colors and projects while I’m knitting. It makes things worse that I still have the fabulous Western Sky Knits yarns that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last month still out on display to encourage my dreaming. I already blogged about this yarn: check this out if you want to see my fabulous dream-inducing colors! I’ve been reorganizing the yarn stash and going through my patterns between bouts of knitting, and then I kind of slip into a garter stitch, color-induced waking dream state where I match color/yarn ideas with patterns to decide on projects.

So, with no further ado, let me introduce you to the line-up of May and June projects:

Yarn for sweater
The blue tonal Posh Fingering yarn from the Uncommon Thread has been hanging out in my stash for about a year waiting for the right project. I just love this golden brown from WSK, and it also is 10% cashmere. Perfect match! I’m going to make a Zweig sweater from them, and the golden brown will be the lace yoke in the sweater. I can’t wait to get going on this, and every time I think of how cool this sweater will be the garter stitch pace in my Fade shawl picks up.
Yarn and pattern.
I absolutely love this skein of painted cashmere blend yarn from WSK. Don’t you think that it will look great with the Zweig sweater? I love the look of this little shawl, and I’m thinking that I should transform some of the handpainted Christmas yarn in my stash into scarfs like these for gifts. But not now. Now I have to knit all of this fabulous yarn that is calling to me.
Yarn.
These two yarns are my absolute favorites. I want to make a shawl that shows the two off really well, but not too crazy in the pattern. I’m not completely committed to it yet, but I’m pretty sure that I’m going to make Albuquerque Sunset by Casapinka with this yarn. Did I mention that I just bought a light pink summer top? Perfect!
Yarn and pattern.
Last but not least, how about a simple summer tee that will use up some of the cotton yarn in the stash and show off the colors of the shawls? Yep! I’m hoping that these Throwback Tees will just fly off of my needles, because I’m going to need them to go with these shawls!

See why I’m knitting so fast? Look at these fabulous yarns and great patterns! Actually there is a lot more where this came from. I just checked, and I have 25 items in my knitting Queue on Raverly, 1,122 patterns in my library, another 159 patterns in my Ravelry shopping basket, and a world class yarn stash. This is all kind of overwhelming if you think about it too much, which is why it is hard to finalize decisions. The last couple of days things just fell into place and I made a list of knitting decisions and kitted up the yarn with the appropriate pattern.

Then I went back to knitting my fade and dreaming of what to do with the colors I have left over. Dreaming of yarn and the beautiful, useful objects that I can make from them.

What can be better than that?

In case you’re wondering… I am still in the middle of testing to clarify the cause of my worsening scleroderma-related symptoms. This week I head in to see another doctor and will get my echocardiogram done; after my heart is sorted out I can get the pulmonary testing that I need. Right now the discussion is mostly about my heart, but they are still gathering data so no definitive diagnosis yet. Through all of this I’m just rocking my knitting and refusing to worry about what I can’t change. Tomorrow I’m planting more flowers in my garden! Peace on, everyone!

MacKenzie Speaks: Mixology Finale

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat on knitting.
Do you see what I’m sitting on?

The Mother of Cats finally finished her Mixology Shawl last week. I was so happy! She has been knitting and knitting on this for weeks and weeks, and it is so big that half of the time it was piled on top of me while she was working on it.

Cat and knitting.
See what I’m talking about?

So, of course, as soon as she finished it I was thrilled. Another blanket for me!! The second she had that Mixology off of the needles and folded on the chair I jumped right up there. A blankie! My blankie! I don’t need it blocked at all and I love all of the strings hanging off of it. Thanks, Mother of Cats!! You’re much nicer than Yellow Boy says.

Cat on blanket.
What? This isn’t for me?

The Mother of Cats is so mean spirited. She took my blankie away and dumped it into the sink to soak. In water!

Blocking Shawl
Look at how huge this is.

Then she stretched it out on the floor to dry with towels under and over it. How can she be so mean to me? She knows how much I like to sleep on wet wool. Wet towels, not so much. Sheesh…

Finished shawl.
Today I helped her take off all of the little strings from the shawl and she gave me the pile of scraps to play with. Nice. I like scraps, but I want the whole blankie. I’m such a good boy. I helped her the whole time she was making this thing!

It is done. She says it is not a blankie for me at all, but a new shawl for her to wear to her knitting group tomorrow. It is exactly the right colors to go nicely with my fur, but no, she hasn’t put it back onto the bed for me to sleep on.

Tonight she started another big shawl with lots of colors of yarn. We wound all of the balls this afternoon (cat party time!) and I helped her with the brioche stitches tonight. I’m sure that she couldn’t do this work without me. She is so lucky to have my help.

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The shawl is Mixology by Casapinka. My project notes are here.
  • I have been working on this shawl for quite a while. I had some adventures settling on the colors for the shawl, which I shared in this post.
  • I do need to make the cats another knitted blanket. They actually fight over the one little one that I made for MacKenzie earlier. It is such a struggle to keep them off my knitted goods that I decided to just give them small blankets of their own that can be easily washed.
  • Tonight MacKenzie and I cast on a What The Fade?! shawl. Hopefully it will soon be big enough to cover him again while I’m knitting.
  • Today it was horribly windy here, so I stayed indoors. Here are some videos from the day; my favorite is the porta-potty blowing down the street…