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).

Shawl
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.

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Yarn Feeding Frenzy

It’s been a kind of tough few weeks and I’ve been missing too much knitting. Last week I pulled myself together and returned to my weekly Wednesday knitting group at my favorite yarn store, Colorful Yarns in Centennial, Colorado. How wonderful to return to my peeps. How great it was to catch up on the new yarns and books. It was a little like coming home after a trip away… there was even a commotion going on between rowdy shoppers towards the front of the store. As shrieking and laughing continued I finally wandered over to see what was up.

Skein of Yarn
Looks pretty innocent, doesn’t it. This yarn, which I wouldn’t have ordinarily given a second glance to, was the trigger for a major yarn event at my local yarn shop. It is Bamboo Bloom by Universal Yarn. The color I bought is called Emperor.

It was a yarn feeding frenzy!! Having caught the scent of blood in the water a great yarn, ladies were digging through a tub of artsy looking yarn on the floor.  Huh? Nice yarn, but what was the big deal?  It makes a cowl, one of the frenzied yarn diggers told me. A second shopper waved the article in question at me… and I froze. Hey, this is kind of cool. I kind of want it. I need some of this yarn, but by this point there were only a couple of disappointing orange/tan colored skeins in the tub. Sniff.

Wait… Why are there more ladies pouring through the door to get this yarn? Answer: A new shipment of the yarn had arrived and the calls had just gone out. The first yarn sharks had pulled up and more were on the way. Oh, no! There was no way I wanted to miss this action. I suddenly realized that the bags of newly arrived yarn were on the floor by the cash register where a couple of unprincipled fearless shoppers had ripped them open and were busy handing out skeins in all the possible colors. Skeins were flying through the air! You know where I ended up… yep! Behind the register where the main action was occurring. After making some yarn tosses myself (go long, go long!)  I gathered up examples of all the colors, plus the cowl in question, and carried them back to the other knitters in the group. Oops. That was that. A major yarn feeding frenzy and knit-along commenced. Woohoo!! I hoarded three skeins of the stuff myself for at least an hour before I calmed down enough to put two of them back into the tub.

So, here is what all the fuss was about.

Yarn
The yarn is a single ply bamboo yarn with 6 inch strips of unspun wool inserted every three feet or so. The barber-pole sections are where the connections between the two fiber types were made, Wow. I think that I need to spin me some of this yarn. With beads!!
Cake of yarn.
Here is the yarn once I had it wound up into a cake. Looks more interesting, doesn’t it. The puffs stand out, but actually there is about 10 times more bamboo yarn in length.
Cowl
and this is what the yarn looks like knitted up into a cowl. Woohoo!! Talk about fabulous. This is the Simple Rules Cowl that is a free download on Ravelry. I knitted it a little bigger than the pattern; I cast on 100 stitches with a size 10 needle. All the stitches are knitted until you come to one of the puffy strips; those are purled to make the puffs stand out. Too easy!

I finished the cowl this morning. Fast, easy, almost mindless knitting that was perfect for catching up on television that I missed over the weekend. Luckily there was a little action to break things up when I heard another (but not yarn related ) commotion occurring at the back door…

Unhappy cat
Mom took away my snake…

The cats had cornered a little garter snake out back and the commotion was Yellow Boy trying to bring it inside while MacKenzie fought to get the snake for himself. Yikes!! No, no, no! No snake frenzy! There was an intervention of the “release the wildlife” type. Cats in, snake out, and me knitting the rest of the cowl.

Tomorrow it is going to be a lot colder. I have a powder blue sweater that will be rocking my new cowl when I go to the Wednesday knitting group at Colorful Yarns.

It is good to hang out with your peeps. 🙂

In Pursuit of Joy: Out of Control (Part 2)

Control is a thing that is highly over-rated. I was a classroom teacher and learned to just get over it. The art is to savor the chaos and to keep steering things along in the right direction while understanding that learning, successes and growth come at their own rate. Knitting, scleroderma, life: lay your best plans, hope for the best, but know that dropped stitches, hail storms, and bad lab reports are a fact of life. Surrender to joy when you find it, and don’t sweat the other stuff.

It’s been 6 months since my diagnosis for limited systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), and for the most part it hasn’t been all that rocky. I got through the first round of medical testing with only three hospital bracelets, my doctors were nice and mostly informative, and some of my symptoms have subsided thanks to the immunosuppressents  that I am on. New symptoms have appeared, however, and some surprising results showed up in routine blood work drawn two weeks ago. (OK, I was surprised. Now that I think about it, this is why there was so much medical testing 6 months ago. My rheumatologist was probably expecting this…) Even through I was warned to stay off the internet (really, they thought that would work?), I pursued the possible causes for the test results and went to PubMed to find out if there was a correlation with my symptoms, the test results and the auto-antibody profile that I have.

Well, crap!

OK, now I have a list of specific questions to ask the rheumatologist when I go see him next week. The internet can be a scary place, and sometimes ignorance is bliss, but I think that it is best to tackle these things head on so that I can make informed decisions. Still, I was a sad puppy at the start of the week which was one of the reasons I cast on new projects that facilitated smooth knitting and a zen like calm. Three projects at once? Sure. It’ll be fun!

Yesterday I decided that it was time to fight back; I packed up my purse, my knitting, and headed out to find some joy. Where can these things be found? At the local nursery and my favorite yarn store, of course!!

Plant
This kalanchoe is moving into the bedroom to keep me company in the mornings while I drink my latte and read in bed. (Oh, I am so retired!)

Look at the plant that I found! Happy, happy colors. I bought this and a cute little cyclamen in a hot pink.

Then I headed off to Colorful Yarns in nearby Centennial, Colorado where I knew ladies gathered to knit together on Wednesday afternoons. Oh my goodness, what a good idea that was. I had a great time knitting, was inspired by the yarns and projects of the other ladies and was even was treated to a decadent snack. (Rice crispy treats made with Nutella and drizzled with chocolate! Hello… if you are hunting joy, chocolate is always a hot ticket!!  This recipe looks like what she made. Yumm!!) I made some friends and will definitely be going back next week.  And the best thing? I was in a yarn store!!

No one should ever go into a yarn store while facing down mortality-related issues linked to their health status! Ever!! You can predict what happened here…

There was a whole section with newly-arrived cashmere blend yarns. Oh dear.
There was a whole section with newly-arrived cashmere blend yarns. Some with sparkle. Oh dear.
Yarn
Gradient dyed yarn! I have to make a lace crescent shaped shawl (with beads) out of this yarn. There was a striped hat set in matching colors that will let me make a hat and mitts in the same colors. How can I walk away from something like that? Black winter coat, you never had it so good!!
Green Yarn
I had never heard of this yarn label before. Hello, beautiful. This yarn is to dye for!! It is cashmere/silk/merino, and if ever there was a yarn that wanted to become art, this is it.
Blue yarn
Same label, but all merino. Won’t this make a happy pair of socks? It’s hard to see in the picture, but the colors just glow.
Cofetti Yarn
It is not possible to walk out of this store without some Zen Yarn Garden. This is 20% cashmere, and the colors are happiness guaranteed. This colorway is called confetti. 🙂
Yarn Haul
Here is the entire yarn haul hanging out with me while I eat lunch outside with my cat MacKenzie. How much fun (and out of control) is this? You are looking at JOY, people!

Time to cast on even more projects!! It is time for me to knit, knit like the wind.

This is me spitting in the eye of scleroderma.

WIP Wednesday: Socks, Mitts and a Shawl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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