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.
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.
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.
What can I say? A few months ago I was sucked into the “Find Your Fade” (by Andrea Mowrey) vortex and spent days and days dreaming of color combinations for shawls. I shopped the stash over and over putting different color combinations together. I agonized over strategies to make the colors work in the shawl; should the colors be connected across the shawl (like a quilt) or just cleanly feed into the next color in the sequence. What would happen if I used monochromatic colors? Would it work to use colors more than once to continue to anchor the shawl? Why did I not have more speckled yarn in my stash?
This got to be really bad. I would get out of bed in the night to hunt for a skein that I suddenly thought about. I settled on color sequences again and again only to abandon some of the yarns that I loved the most. I took yarns to the LYS to get help from my friends. More skeins were bought and I finally settled down with three sets of yarn hopping up and down demanding to be made into one of these shawls.
I took pictures of the yarn sequences and wrote the knitting order onto the labels of the yarn. I started the Ravelry project pages and committed to the Fade study project. Early in February I cast on the first one, and late last week I finished the three shawl project.
So what did I do different with these three shawl? Check out each shawl’s story below.
This shawl really put me through the wringer. I had some great fall-colored yarn from Dream in Color, so I decided to use it to center the shawl. Every yarn that I used matched to the Dream yarn (the middle yarn between the red and purple in the close-up shots above), and to make it all work I used two skeins of that yarn to make two sequences. I started knitting with a lovely brown, and then ripped it all out, bought a dark red Tosh merino light called Heartheat, and used that instead. Later on I tossed out another yarn that I just loved and used the Heartbeat again in the middle of the shawl to keep the continuity with the Dream yarn. At the end of the shawl I had used only 5 colors of yarn and tossed out even more contenders. I think I needed to stop thinking about the concept of a “Fade” and did better concentrating on what would make a truly lovely and useful shawl for me. My Ravelry notes and yarn sequence is here.
The second shawl was so easy to put together. I had three amazing silk/alpaca yarns in shades of gold, brown and deep red that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last year. They went nicely together, but they were really monochromatic. Digging in the stash I quickly found a blue that wanted to play with the golden-brown yarn, and the dark gray yarn linked cleanly to the blue. Great. I had 5 yarns, and wasn’t quite sure how to link them. Oh, wait. Speckled yarns!! I looked at Tosh Merino Light online and realized that skeins of Yoko and Marfa would make the transitions work cleanly. Ta-daa. Not a gradient, but every yarn gets along with the ones next to it. This shawl is great with almost everything that I wear, and even better I never questioned my color choices while knitting it; no struggles or dashes back to the LYS. My Ravelry notes and the yarn order are here.
My last shawl is the one that is most like a “Fade” in that the colors cleanly connect from each skein to the next, but there is a lot of continuity between the colors across the shawl. The difference in the textures of the shawl yarns became another type of study as I knitted. The Alegria was wonderfully squishy and bouncy. I loved the way the Dream in Color Jilly showed off the lace (the detail in the picture above with MacKenzie’s paw on it) and while the color of the Hedgehog Fibers yarn was beautifully rich, it was a nightmare to knit as it had the life of string and was splitty to boot. The Ravelry notes and yarn order is here.
So, there they are.
Yep. Time to get to work on finishing up all my little (emphasis on little) abandoned projects that have been lurking in a basket waiting for me to get back to them. No more shopping the stash for awhile. No decisions. All I have to do is pull out a bag with the yarn, pattern and half finished item and get to work. Even better, these are quick to finish projects like socks, mitts and scarfs. Woohoo! Compared to knitting these shawls it is almost like instant gratification.
MacKenzie is looking forward to having my lap all to himself again, too.
The Mother of Cats was sucked into the “Find Your Fade” vortex weeks and weeks ago. Yellow Boy and I did everything that we could to save her, but it was hopeless. She has been neglecting us for forever while this has been going on. It has been awful! So far she has knitted up THREE of these shawls.
Finally, finally she finished up all of her silly knitting and took the shawl outside to grab some pictures yesterday.
You can imagine our relief when the Mother of Cats told us that she is done knitting Fade shawls for now. Finally!! We have made it to the end of the Fades tunnel. She got out her basket of unloved and abandoned old knitting projects (she calls them WIPs; Yellow Boy thought that she was talking about a new kind of kitty treat and came running. Boy, was he disappointed!) and told us that she would be finishing some of these up before she starts a new project. Right. We’ve heard that before.
Today there is too much snow on the ground for us to go outside so we are hanging out inside again. The Mother of Cats is knitting on a pair of socks from her basket and Yellow Boy and I are playing on our new cat tree.
About time we got a new cat scratching post!! I’ve been forced to use the knitting chair for weeks, and the Mother of Cats just gets upset every time I put a claw on it. She is so emotional. I’m glad that she finally understood that she needs to focus more on my needs.
I’m such a good boy.
Can I have some cookies now?
Notes from the Mother of Cats:
This is the third Find You Fade shawl that I’ve knit. The project notes for this one are located here on Ravelry.
My first Fade was done in fall colors. You can find it here.
The second Fade, one that would look nice with denim, was finished last month. Its Ravelry notes are here.
I am now finishing a pair of socks I started months ago. I am going to work through the WIP basket for sure. Really. I’m totally going to be able to ignore that shawl yarn that I kitted up this week with its pattern… I am strong!
Should I show off all three shawls together in a post?
I also did some beading this week. Wait until I show you my BKB’s bead stash!! (BKB = Best Knitting Buddy)
Hi. If you’ve been following my blog for very long you already know that I am an out-of-control knitter owned by a self-absorbed and bossy cat named MacKenzie. You have probably detected that I am a science-oriented geek, an obsessive reader, and a casual gardener who loves her roses. You may have also realized that I have some serious and chronic health problems that I am trying to keep from taking over my life. I’ve been pretty up-front about the more serious of my autoimmune duo, systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), but I hardly ever mention the lesser of the two, Sjogren’s Syndrome. After all, since the diagnosis came in, all of my doctors (I have a six-pack of docs…) tend to focus on the scleroderma, so I almost forget that I also have Sjogren’s.
Except for this: of the two autoimmune conditions, it is the Sjogren’s that has pretty much taken over my life in spite of my efforts to keep control. Since April is Sjogren’s Awareness Month, I decided that I would share with all of you some information about this disease and how it has impacted me.
But first, the Fade!! I’m cranking out another Find Your Fade shawl that I hope to get done before the end of the month. Look at these colors! Look at how great this shawl is going to be! Color me happy! My Ravelry project notes are here.
The weather has been nice this week so the cats have moved outside to bug hunt and I have moved into major knitting and house cleaning mode. OK, there has been more knitting. It’s important to have priorities…
Back to the Sjogren’s Syndrome. I know that you are just dying to know more about this little know and hard to spell disease. Sjogren’s isn’t as rare a disease as my bad-boy scleroderma (about 4 million Americans have it), and it isn’t usually life-threatening, but it is still serious and exceptionally life altering. Check out this symptom chart. This is one crazy-ass autoimmune disease; basically my immune system is attacking all of my moisture producing cells. That doesn’t sound all that bad, does it? As it turns out, the impact of this damage affects an awful lot of my body’s ability to function properly, and for this reason Sjogren’s is considered to be a systemic condition. Its most obvious feature is extreme dryness. Let’s take a little walk around my house as I explain this to you.
Now for the things that I couldn’t take picture of: fatigue, neuropathy, and concentration/memory problems. The fatigue that comes with Sjogren’s is not the usual “feeling tired” stuff. This is true crushing fatigue that makes me feel buzzy, numb and like I’m walking through concrete. The neuropathy means that I have feet/hands that are always falling asleep; more trouble walking. Then there is the memory stuff. When I’m in a flare all kind of crazy things can happen. I got lost on the freeway once; now I always use the GPS to give me driving directions. I have gone out to run an errand and then couldn’t remember where I was going. I have big problems with vocabulary recall, and I forget things like my phone number at the most embarrassing moments. I lose my ability to read because I can’t concentrate…
Good grief, I pretty much have my life arranged around my Sjogren’s needs. I thought that MacKenzie was running the show around here, but it looks like he needs to take a back seat to Sjogren’s.
Which brings me to the good things for which I am grateful. Most people with scleroderma/Sjogren’s struggle with anxiety and/or depression. I do not. I think that I am so very lucky in my wonderful, supportive friends and my son. I am lucky to have good neighbors, health insurance, and a pension that meets all my needs. I am lucky to have cats that pile on and purr through all the sad times. I am lucky to have the immensely meditative and calming art of knitting to carry me through each and every flare of my disease.
It has been just crazy for the last two weeks. We have had really warm weather, blizzard warnings, a broken water heater, more medical testing, and another trip to the hospital. March has been a bad, bad boy. Tomorrow March will be going out like a lion as there is a rather major snow storm on the way that promises to gift us with either 2 inches or a whole foot of snow. As usual for this time of year, we won’t really know for sure until the snow stops falling. One thing is for sure, the roses are going to come out of this looking a little worse for the wear…
I have been dealing with all the stress and commotion in my usual manner; lots of knitting. My latest “Find Your Fade” shawl has been growing at an impressive rate.
Tomorrow I will be (surprise) casting on the start of a third Fade shawl just in time for the snow storm. This is addictive. I just need to see how the colors will go together.
MacKenzie, how do you feel about purple, magenta and turquoise yarn?
The Mother of Cats is still going off and leaving us for a few days at a time, and when she comes home again she spends her days lying around with a heating pad on her knees knitting away on another huge shawl.
See what I’m talking about? I can barely squish myself onto her lap with all of that yarn in the way. I mean, I ABSOLUTELY need to be on the heating pad, and I also expect to knead my paws on the balls of yarn, and you know that knitting without chomping hardly counts at all. Right? You’d think that if I purred loud enough the Mother of Cats would understand and she’d make allowances to ensure I had enough room, but she just keeps whapping me with the shawl. On my head!! Sure, she always says that she is sorry, but really, don’t you think that she should concentrate on my needs and put the knitting well off to the side? Is that too much to ask?
While we were outside taking pictures we checked out the garden.
I think that the Mother of Cats kind of misses the flowers because she planted some outside in the big planters this week. She says that these flowers can survive a snow storm. Snow? NO!! Cats do not like snow!
I think that these are her favorite colors because she put together the yarns for ANOTHER one of those Fade shawls and it looks a lot like the flowers!
The Mother of Cats has clearly lost her mind. Doesn’t she understand that all things should be done in moderation? (That doesn’t apply, of course, to cat cookies…) When is she going to make my cat hoodie? How about some socks? I never have any trouble sitting in her lap when she is knitting socks. She has these UFOs sitting around the house, but she is just ignoring them too. Maybe she could just read books for awhile with the heating pad on her knees so I could just hang out with her for a couple hours at a time. The heating pad works better when I’m purring on top of it…
I’m such a good boy!
Can I have some cookies now?
Notes from the Mother of Cats:
I continue to spend a couple of days a week with my sons helping out, who are dealing with ongoing health issues. It’s hard on the kitties, but such is life.
The shawl pattern is “Find Your Fade” by Andrea Mowrey. My project notes for the second shawl in the series are here. Each of the shawls lets me explore a different way to approach the colors and how I let them fade across the shawl. I’m having fun and busting my stash at the same time. Sorry MacKenzie!
March and April are the snowiest months of the year here in Colorado. Just because it is nice and warm today doesn’t mean it won’t snow next week… Sad news for cats.
The Mother of Cats has been knitting for DAYS AND DAYS on her new shawl. The same shawl. It is boring and endless, and since it is so large it has been really hard for me to get on her lap to yarn chomp help her. She’s been ignoring me and Yellow Boy, to be blunt.
It is with great relief that I can report that she finished the darn thing today and took it outside to take pictures of it.
She acted really, really silly with this shawl. I mean, she completely ignored me as she wrapped herself in the shawl, ran around the yard and draped it on the fence and the tree trying to get nice pictures. Did I mention that the shawl is extremely large? (How do you like my word choice there? I’m a very smart cat!) She kept flipping parts of it around and when I swatted at tried to touch it she just persisted in jerking it away from me. I was trying to help her and she actually CHASED me off. I wasn’t even allowed to go into the front yard to take those pictures with her. I tried to pull on one corner of the shawl to help arrange it on the fence, and she completely over-reacted. If she hadn’t tried to pull back on the shawl it wouldn’t have gotten stuck on my claws. Hey, it was all her fault! I’m a good boy!
Whew. Thank heavens she is finally done with this shawl. She should now start knitting things that I like. Maybe a catnip mouse? My little hoodie? Something small that will not interfere with lap sitting (yarn chomping) time?
No!! She cast on another one of these giant shawls with lots and lots of colors. NOOOO!!!! Why doesn’t she pay more attention to my needs? Doesn’t she know that I am a unique cat with high maintenance needs? I need lots of petting, toys, catnip and play time.
I’m such a good boy.
Can I have some cookies now?
Notes from the Mother of Cats:
The shawl is a Find Your Fade by Andrea Mowrey. You can find the project notes here. I was struggling to make the colors “fade” across the shawl, so I used two skeins of the same September 2015 colorway (from the Dream in Color Club) to make connected “fades” on each side of the shawl. When I wear the shawl all the colors will come together (I hope). I am really, really happy with the final product; also want to point out that I got the purple yarn in and it looks great!! MacKenzie doesn’t know this, but I also have started a collection of yarns for a third fade shawl to follow the one that I started last night. So many yarns and colors, so many ideas on how to combine them. What a great stash buster this is, too.
Today it turned just darn cold after days and days of spring like weather. I know I’m being a whining baby; it is February after all. The weather people warned us that change was coming so I pulled myself together, sewed the buttons onto the drijfhout sweater and wove in the ends. Ta-da! Here it is!
I took this picture outside this morning while it was snowing so the light isn’t the best, but it really did turn out nice. The fit is just perfect! You can’t really see the details well in the shot, but the sweater is knit from the top down (no sewing!!) with perfect set-in sleeves. I am just delighted with how nice it looks on me (and I eventually hope to have one of my knitting friends take a picture of me wearing it… you’ll just have to take my word for the fit. 🙂 Here are the project notes on Ravelry.
I’ve also been working like crazy on the Find Your Fade shawl. I’m now in the 5th color and am picking up speed as I slide through the second half of the shawl.
I did make some changes to the colors (but you know that I am keeping the purple!). I decided that I wanted a beautiful fall like shawl more than I wanted the type of fade that transforms from one color to another, and I wanted to stick with the rosy colorways. The idea that I’m working with is more like the selection of fabrics for a quilt – each color goes with all of the others and the colors call to each other across the shawl just the way they do in quilts. What do you think of my efforts so far? It’s not a “fade” but it will look good and it makes me happy. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.
I made this stitch marker from a hand blown glass bead that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last year. I really like the way it looks on the shawl – I may need to get a chain so I can wear the stitch marker like a necklace with the shawl. There are little circles of gold in the glass in the main body of the bead that really shine in the sun; perfect to go with the shawl!
It’s going to be a good weekend. Cold weather, knitting, and I even have yummy meals planned and a new book to read. Life is good.
A couple of weeks ago the bottom fell out from under the Midnight Knitter family: health emergencies, rushes to the emergency room, surgery, a life altering diagnosis of colon cancer for my older son, and the death of a beloved dog. A terrible 10 days.
A week after returning home from the hospital my older son developed complications and once again ended up in the emergency room. Blood clots! Holy smokes, this is not something that I would wish on anyone! Once again we took turns at the hospital and knitted through the wee hours of the morning. It was days before he could go home again.
Then the next shoe dropped: even before my older son was out of the hospital again I came down with the plague. Seriously, it had to be plague. It couldn’t have been flu, since I had that shot earlier this year. <snark> Whatever, I got sick. Really sick. Too sick to knit. Ugh. It was bound to happen since I was burning the candle at both ends for days on end and taking chances walking into hospitals with a seriously drugged up immune system, but still … I think that we are due a break here!! After a week in bed I dragged myself up to my younger son’s place and have been recovering with him since then. Now it’s a whole week later and I’m still struggling to get around with a dizzy head and shaky legs, but I am definitely starting to feel more like myself, and I am back to knitting every evening.
Tomorrow I will head on home again. Poor MacKenzie! He and Yellow Boy were pretty much abandoned this whole week with only a couple of checks to make sure they had food and water. I know I will be getting an earful from them once I’m back.
Tomorrow my oldest son starts chemo.
I think of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s quote from Knitting Without Tears a lot in times like these. “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crisis.”
OK, this is going to be a serious post eventually, but before I talk about the sad and painful stuff that has been going on in the Midnight Knitter family I thought that I should get all the fun stuff out of the way. Therefore I present to you for your admiration my WIPs for the week, a terrific score at the bead store, and the results of way too much creative agonizing.
I found the perfect pattern to make MacKenzie a cat hoodie with the left over yarn. Won’t this look nice on the big guy? I think that the body of the sweater should be grey stripes and the hood, sleeves and contrast details will be in red. The pattern, by Kristin Roach, is free on Ravelry.
Now for the creative burn. For reasons that will become obvious later on in the post I have been driving around a lot this week, up at all hours of the night, and longing for comfort knitting. What could be better to fit the bill than to put together a Find Your Fade shawl? I’ve torn apart the stash a couple of times trying to put together a fade shawl. This is one of those deals where as soon as I started to drift off to sleep I would think of another potential skein to put into the mix. I agonized over it; should the shawl be a gradient or something more like a quilt? I finally dragged a crate of yarn into the LYS to have my friends help me with these decisions and to locate a couple of additional skeins to finish up the fade. Here’s what I ended up with:
I started the rose gold fade this evening and plan to alternate between the shawls and sweater. Why start with the fade that I’m a little worried about? I need to knit in that purple before my friends and fellow knitting addicts find out what I’ve done. It’s crazy I know. I think it’s actually because I’m the most invested in this shawl.
Now on to the trauma and chaos. Exactly two weeks ago a text arrived late in the evening. “Call me,” it said. “I think I need to go to hospital. I’m in trouble.” I was on the phone and in the car driving within minutes. It was from a member of my family with diabetes, and he was in diabetic keto acidosis. Off to the hospital we went!
Whew. Scary, but handled. We got him home from the hospital a couple of days later and I settled in to stay with him while he recovered. Then there was a phone call…
Another member of the family had been rushed to the hospital with serious bleeding. Tests, more testing, surgery, and then lab reports: colon cancer. The chemo starts in two weeks.
Then the horrible just kept on coming. His dog had a seizure and died the last night he was in the hospital.
Maybe you’re guessed already. I have two sons, and both of them were struck with serious and life threatening health emergencies within the last two weeks; in truth, the end is not yet in sight. Without any warning the family motto became “our brand is crisis…” There’s nothing for it but to keep on focusing on the one thing before you as everything comes unglued. Food to prepare, prescriptions to fill, my grandson to hug, trips across town, prayers, and endless phone calls.