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…

MacKenzie Speaks: It’s Spring!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat and knitting.
The Mother of Cats and I have been knitting like crazy on her Mixology shawl.

The Mother of Cats says that it is spring today. Spring! The birds are coming back! Yellow Boy and I really like birds. Squirrels, not so much. Birds are awesome, though. And bugs. And snakes. We really like to chase snakes!!

Cats bath.
Today the Mother of Cats did more cleaning and I got involved in the spring cleaning too; bath time for Yellow Boy.
Lights on rose bush.
I helped the Mother of Cats put some cute little lights on her baby rose bush that she bought last month. The wire with the lights is perfect for chasing! She has to put the rose on the kitchen window ledge so Yellow Boy won’t eat it. He’s that way.
Knitting.
Oh yeah. We knitted. I guess I should show you how far we have gotten on her Mixology Shawl. It is really getting to be a great size for a cat blanket… She can’t wait to get this done so she can wear it with her new denim hooded jacket. I can’t wait for her to finish so I can use it as a CAT BLANKET!!

I tried to get the Mother of Cats to let me outside to look for birds this afternoon, but she refused to do it. Something about snow on the ground and too much wind. What a silly Mother of Cats! Doesn’t she understand that it is now spring?

Cats.
I’m just trying to take care of Yellow Boy… he hasn’t been able to hunt for bugs for sooo long.

See what a good boy I am.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The project notes for the Mixology are here. If you don’t know this pattern, it is the Mixology Shawl from Casapinka.
  • Sunday night I drove home from a visit with my son through a thunder snow storm. If you don’t know about these things, they are pretty exciting. Lightening, thunder, and downpours of snow. So much snow. We had over 6 inches of the heavy slushy stuff before it was over. The cats were in the closet sheltering in place when I got home. Poor things.
  • The next door neighbors have a dog that has become a ferocious barker over the winter. She even ate a hole in the fence so she can keep a better eye on my yard. Poor cats. It’s going to be a difficult return to the great outdoors when the warm weather arrives.
  • The snakes are little garter snakes; mostly harmless, but surprisingly fast when a cat is hunting them.

Yellow Boy Speaks: Knitting at Winter’s End

Hi. I’m Yellow Boy.

My big brother MacKenzie has been a little under the weather this week, so I’ve been taking up the slack by being especially helpful to the Mother of Cats all week. While MacKenzie has been sleeping upstairs I’ve been helping her with all of her chores. I get lots of snacks and pets, too, since MacKenzie isn’t there to barge in…

Cat on stack of laundry...
Here I’m helping the Mother of Cats with the laundry. I flattened every single stack of clean clothes for her. So much work. Why she doesn’t completely understand that my help is essential for optimal folding?

Now that it is the end of winter I’m moving into prime shedding season. I love to sleep in the sunlight, and then as I run upstairs to check on MacKenzie the fluffs of fur just fly off everywhere. It’s almost like indoor snow! So cool! The Mother of Cats keeps brushing me, but thankfully she isn’t getting enough fur off to spoil my fun.

Shedding cat.
Look at all of this fur! Thank heavens it is finally getting warm enough for me to get rid of all of this extra fluff.

Anyway, since the weather has been warm this week we worked on finishing some little projects.

Sock
Remember these socks? I slept on her legs for two whole days while she got the other sock done. 
Finished socks
Here they are! The Mother of Cats has enough yarn left over to make me a toy mouse. It’s only fair since MacKenzie got a whole blanket earlier this winter.
Arm warmer.
The Mother of Cats also whipped up a pair of arm warmers. 

The Mother of Cats is so strange. I’m too hot and dumping off all of my long fur, but she keeps putting these things onto her arms and feet. Doesn’t she understand that winter is ending? She should come take a nap with me in the sunlight by the back door. Silly Mother of Cats!

Knitting.
She has also been knitting on her Mixology.

That Mixology is so long now it covers me while she is knitting, so I really don’t like it all that much. I had to go upstairs to hang out with MacKenzie since she was so annoying while working on it. Every time she turns the knitting over it flaps over my head. She kept whapping me with the needles, too. No self respecting cat would put up with all of that. I decided that MacKenzie could use some attention, anyway, so I sleep with him when she’s knitting Mixology.

Today she took out that dreadful instrument of cat torture known as the VACUUM and chased us all over the house with it. It was just awful! Every time she turned it off to empty it I thought we were done, but no, she just reconnected everything and vacuumed another room.  MacKenzie likes to follow her around to keep his eye on what she’s doing, but I hid. Best to be safe! When she came downstairs she caught me and carried me up the stairs past the scary machine and I just couldn’t help myself: I squeaked in terror! Can you blame me? The last time she carried me somewhere it was for a bath… MacKenzie laughed at me for an hour after that.

Cat.
Here I am, fully recovered. Whew! What a long day it was.

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The socks are knit from a sock blank I bought at the Estes Park Wool Mart from Bonkers. The sock pattern is Eugene by Rachel Coopey. My project notes are here.
  • The arm warmers are the pattern that I worked out a few months ago when the cold weather started. I didn’t put in a thumb hole this time and the warmers just bunch up around my lower arms and wrists: just what I wanted this time. Here are the project notes.
  • My project notes for Mixology are here.
  • MacKenzie had a cold for a few days: sneezing, cranky, and sleeping. Can cats have allergies? He’s back up to full speed again today and once again is the dominant cat; Yellow Boy has resumed his role of the little cat brother that MacKenzie alternately babies, grooms,  and then roughs up. More yellow fur on the carpet…
  • Yellow Boy doesn’t know it, but he’s going to get a bath and clipping soon… Shedding season comes right before hair ball and matted fur season, and I hope to keep ahead of things this year.

Continue reading “Yellow Boy Speaks: Knitting at Winter’s End”

Mixology Mayhem and Two Good Books

I’ve been wanting to make a Mixology (by Casapinka) for quite a while. One night I printed out the pattern, shopped the stash, gathered up some yarn, and casted on with a sense of reckless abandon. Great yarns, great colors, and I couldn’t wait to see how it would look as I mixed them up in the shawl.

Yarns for shawl.
Look at these happy colors. Won’t these be a lot of fun in the mash-up of Mixology

Okay, I have to be honest here; I just don’t do any swatching. Ever. I’m lazy. Maybe I need instant gratification. Anyway, I like to just throw the yarn onto my needles and launch into the project. Besides, how could these colors not work out?

Knitting
The knitting has a lot of colors changes at the beginning. So far, looking good! MacKenzie: cat toy!! 
Knitting.
As I kept knitting I began to question my choices. Gee, the pink is awfully bright and the yellow variegated yarn isn’t really pulling its weight. Where did all of that green come from and where did the blue go? What can I actually wear this thing with in my closet? I should have asked myself that sooner, but in my defense, I was seduced by the yarn…

I ripped it off the needles and recycled all of the yarn. I was pretty cheerful about it. I had just bought a few new items for my wardrobe in indigo blue and thought that I should build a Mixology that would go with them. Back into the stash I dived…

Yarn for shawl.
There. Don’t these look like they would like to play with my new denim jacket and dress?
Knitting.
Here it is. Mixology 2.0. I love the colors. My best friend said something about it being dark, but I had faith in the colors to come. I went out to look at the shop sample to see how the whole color sequence would work out.

The shop sample was a lot smaller than mine. Like 6 inches smaller across then my knitting. Oh, oh. I was first drawn to the shawl/scarf because of the size of this sample. If it is too big it won’t work right. I checked my needle size and the pattern again. Yep. I was using the right needle. Then I checked the gauge. Holy smokes, who ever checks the gauge on a shawl? Well, it might have been nice if I had…

My best friend Deb helped me rip it all out. She’s fearless that way, and is know for her ripping (and cutting) episodes. Hmmm… what a good opportunity to make some yarn color changes. Since I just happened to be in a yarn shop…

Yarns for shawl.
Behold: Mixology 3.0. I added a couple of Baah! La Jolla yarns that added more variation and bridged the red and blue a little better.
Knitting
I went down a needle size and I’m exactly at the gauge that I want. I just love how the colors are working together. It’s a keeper!

I’m approaching the half-way mark on the shawl now and the colors are working out great. I’m going to get a lot of use out of this, and I learned a lot while going through the process. As you can guess, it has taken several weeks to work my way through the different iterations of the Mixology, and there were some big breaks where I just lost myself into a book for an evening and let the knitting sit in a corner to think about what it had done for awhile.

Books
Meet the knitting break books.

I read a lot, and I’m doing a reading challenge at Goodreads. With a sense of optimism I committed to reading 50 books this year. Book after book, week after week, I have been chomping my way through mysteries, science fiction and popular novels. I rate all of the books at Goodreads, and they almost always get 3 or 4 stars (out of a possible 5). I usually like all of the books that I read, and they certainly keep me entertained, but I long for a book that is well written, with characters of real depth, and a sense of magic. I don’t want to know where the book is going before I get there. I want to feel impacted by the book. I want 5 stars!

Well, during the various Mixology melt-downs and knitting breaks I found two treasures lurking in my Nook and on the bookshelf. Two remarkable books that deal with death and loss, family dysfunction, grief, crisis, and the eventual coming into their own of the young people who make their way through the emotional storms in each book. Seriously, I’ve been up half the night with each of these. I had no idea that they would deal with similar  subjects, but somehow I launched into them back to back, and will treasure each book for quite some time. Here they are: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.  I highly recommend both of these books.

You know, I did all of that knitting with yarns from the stash (until I got to the last version of Mixology), and both of those books have been with me for months. I need to toss the house to look for other treasures. I wonder what is in the fridge, although things abandoned there are usually dangerous. Still, I’m feeling really hopeful as I write this. I’m going to poke around in the kitchen as soon as I finish this. Chocolate. I bet there is chocolate down there.

Cat peaking from under blanket.
Yellow Boy: and maybe you could find us some cat cookies while you’re own there!!

Have a good rest of the week everyone.