The Saturday Update: Week 22

I’m going to just come right out and say that things are crazy, scary, and full of grief here in America. It’s hard for me to focus because there is a sense of history that compels me to keep checking the news. Where to start? At this point I am almost beyond words. Maybe I won’t even go there. Instead, let me offer you the good moments and snippets of joy that came to me this week. The leaves are out on the tree over my garden swing, and I can finally sit outside and read listening to birdsong. Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day, and all of my neighbors were out in their front yards working; I sat in the grass and “talked” to all of them as we shared our latest news. My neighbor next door and I call to each other over the fence these days… This week I tossed her a can of baking powder and a packet of “no contact” cookies arrived on my front porch later on. Instacart delivered all of my groceries to me and I discovered that 25 pounds of rice is a lot more than I thought it was! (Feel free to PM me if you need some…) My neighbor mowed and trimmed my lawn when I wasn’t looking and I snuck over and weeded out all of the weeds in the rocks along his house two days later. (Stealth yard work! I highly recommend it.) I applied for 3 more kittens this week, and SpaceX safely launched Crew Dragon into space this afternoon. See, no matter how bad things sound in the news, there are small moments of joy everywhere.

Knitting

Do you see what got done this week?

Knitted Maya is done!!

This is my last knitted cat for awhile. Maya, my sons Maine coon cat with attitude to spare and undisputed princess status in the home, is finally knitted up. Maya is excessively fluffy… I finally just settled on creating a cat with the correct coloration (using purple with the black for fun) and hoping that time will fluff her up if we brush her. Who am I kidding… the real Maya is too fluffy for words. She does love hanging out draped across the back of my son’s chair at his desk, so this knitted Maya took to the tree for her photoshoot.

Doesn’t she look great? This pattern is Cat by Claire Garland and you can find the project notes, such as they are, here.

The rest of my knitting energy has been going to the Garter Snake Cowl. I think that I am about half way done, and you can see that I am now in the middle of the transition from brioche stitch to garter stitch as I knit up the cowl. I love how these two yarns are looking together!

Looking good!! My Ravelry notes are here.
Garden

Flowers are popping out all over and the roses are right on the verge of blooming. The catmint has just gone crazy with the blooms and the bees are working overtime right now.

See what I mean? I’m pretty sure that this is a honey bee. Yay! So happy I could help out, little guy!
Here’s another shot because, seriously, what are the chances that I will get another picture like this while using a cell phone?
Books

Sigh. Still reading The Mirror & The Light. I can’t seem to concentrate on reading at the moment with all that is going on, but has that stopped me from buying more books to read? Nope!! I just keep adding them to my Kindle with the hopeful expectation that I will snap out of my inability to read and race right through them in a few days. My book club is meeting by Zoom in a few days so I have to get Catherine House finished before Tuesday. It’s 314 pages. I probably should start it, huh. After I water the plants, prune the roses, and maybe knit awhile…

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 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 20

Twenty weeks into the year I’m now in a place that I never could have imagined a year ago.  Let’s be honest, if you read science fiction books you know all about pandemics, but who thought we’d be living that scenario now? A year ago I was facing down some very scary possible diagnoses and pressing for medical interventions to help me; I was forced to self-isolate as my doctors doubled down on my immunosuppressant drugs to get my systemic sclerosis symptoms under control. I’m tolerating the additional drugs, but my risk of infection remains high. Then I self-isolated when flu season erupted late in the fall; in spite of my best efforts I caught the flu anyway. Sigh. Who could have imagined that there would then be a pandemic, a chaotic and ineffective response by my government, and then social bullying against people who wear facemasks and who comply with public health protocols? Yep, That is happening in my community right now.  There is no place I can go that will be safe for me if other people refuse to wear masks and maintain a safe distance. I’m pretty much in stunned disbelief these days. I have no choice but to continue to self-isolate.

This is my new shirt that I plan to wear while grocery shopping, which I do carefully during the special “at-risk” shopping hour at my grocery store.

Whatever, the joke is on those rude anti-social idiots who have forced me to remain home with my yarn stash, books, and garden! I’m good.

Knitting

Look at what got done this week!!

My V-Neck Boxy sweater is ready to enter service.

I loved this color yarn so much that I bought an extra skein of yarn to use for socks, or something. I didn’t quite know what I would do with it, but I wanted options. I also bought a skein of contrasting yarn at the same time thinking that I could maybe put together a nice piece to go with the sweater. I was thinking Fair Isle armwarmers at the time, but this week I decided that this yarn wanted to be a cowl.

A Garter Snake cowl, to be specific. The cowl begins with 50 rounds of brioche, and then will move into garter stitch while the brioche forms a peak in the garter stitch background. This is going to be so perfect with my new sweater!!

I also pulled out a pair of simple socks that have been hibernating in a project bag for a few weeks while I focused on the sweater. How cute will these be?

My local yarn store got these intriguing little balls of yarn to make self-striping socks. Hey. I had to try that out!! The yarn is from Lollipop Yarn, and the sock is my own usual 64 stitch vanilla sock recipe.

Finally, I am ready to return to my latest knitted cat project. Poor Maya has been waiting and waiting for her knitted twin to arrive. Now that the sweater is off the needles I am ready to focus on that project and should get it done in the coming week.

Garden

Nothing spectacular is going on in the garden… plants are slowly adjusting to the outside, perennials are emerging from the ground, and my frost-damaged rose bushes are slowly putting out new shoots and leaves. Since I can’t go to the local nursery these days I put the seeds from old plants into cleared garden soil. I have a bag of old flowers (with their seed pods) in the garage that was given to me years ago by a cousin… I think that those seeds will end up in the back garden. Some ancient allysium seeds actually sprouted in the front rose garden so I’m hopeful about the other seeds that I just planted from old, dried flower pods. See, lots of work is going on, but not much to show off in pictures.

Except for this… Painted Lady butterflies have descended on my flowering plants. Yay!! Happy times!
Books

I tend to watch news channels during the day while I knit and quilt on my current projects. It is kind of background noise that won’t interfere with my counting of stitches or my focus while sewing a nice, straight seam. I do watch enough to become amused by the backgrounds that people have chosen for their video commentary. You know, some are in the living room and we see furniture and neutral walls with maybe some prints on them. Others choose to speak in front of a shelf with a few carefully arranged plants, pots, pictures, and some token books. Some of the backgrounds are just sadly vacant of evidence of life. Then there are the people who speak in front of a bookshelf stuffed full of books…

Oh my gosh!! I love those people!! Some of them have books that are crammed into the shelves with books on top of other books, scraps of paper marking places poking out, and the chaos of a dedicated bibliophile. Others have nice tidy bookshelves with a few pictures of family and mementos included. I ignore what these people are saying as I search the bookshelves to find books that I have too. Yes! Stacey Abrams has a copy of The Night Tiger on her shelf!! Beto O’Rourke has all of the Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O’Brian on his shelf. The mayor of Dallas, Texas (Eric Johnson) has the same copy of Einstein: His Life and Universe on his shelf that is on mine! I can’t help it… I am thrilled to see evidence of my connection and shared interests with these other people. I love it!

My downstairs bookshelf. I used to have 4 bookshelves in my house, and over the last few years I’ve slowly pruned them down to just two. In the era of digital books I’ve really cut back on hardbound book buying.

This bookshelf has all of my sock knitting books and some smaller knitting books. It also has most of my science geeky books, and all of my hardbound historical novels by Sharon Kay Penman, and several science fiction books. My favorite two books in the world, Floating Worlds and Great Maria, both by Cecelia Holland, are also on this shelf. And on the bookshelf upstairs. When a book is your favorite it’s important to have several copies just in case…

My upstairs bookshelf. Do you see all of those books on the shelf above MacKnitzie? That’s my collecion of the Aubrey-Maturin books. Out of sight at the bottom of the shelf are piles of more knitting and weaving books.

So, what am I reading this week? I have settled down and am finally able to read complicated books again. I’m reading the latest historical novel by Sharon Kay Penman about the Kingdom of Jerusalem in the 12th century.

King Baldwin IV and the Kingdom of Jeruselum. Hundred of pages. I’m in book heaven.
I’m also deep in the 16th century as I’m reading this book about Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell.

Both of these are huge books with lots of convoluted interactions and political maneuverings. Perfect for long spring days at home in our time.

Have a great week, everyone!!

Read a little, knit a little, and garden like your heart can’t live without it.