The Saturday Update: Week 24

Did I say that this was the Saturday update? No, no, no. This is the Caturday update!! As in, after weeks of submitting applications and trying to make the arrangements to get a kitten (with friends, neighbors, and family helping out) today I met my kitten and brought her home!

This is Hannah!

I actually scored a kitten earlier in the week, but decided to pass because the exchange had to be made in a PetSmart across the metro area that did not have mandatory mask requirements. I called the store to ask if the customers work masks there, and the man in charge of adoptions laughed at me. The employees don’t even wear masks in this store! Yep. It was a nice looking kitty, but not worth the risk. The Cat Care Society takes these things much more seriously, and they set up an appointment with me to come view kittens this afternoon. The experience was perfect and completely non contact!! Hannah is exactly what I wanted, too. She trills! She makes sure she knows where I am at all times, and she wants to sleep on the bed with me. She is playful, but not manic. She ignored the monster orchid. It remains to be seen how she acts around knitting, but so far she is 100% the perfect pet for me!

And she catches moths! Believe me, in Colorado this is a perfect cat attribute!

So, let’s see. What else happened this week? The weather was difficult with days of wild wind and thunderstorms. My symptoms flared and I spent a couple of days in bed. There was some knitting, but not that much as I mostly stayed in bed listening to my audiobook. Every time I start listening to an audiobook I fall asleep… It was quite the week, all in all.

Knitting
My Garter Snake Cowl is done!! I just love this piece! It is so long that you can just wrap it around your neck and secure with a shawl pin if you don’t want it way up your neck, or…
you can defend yourself from the cold by pulling it up over your ears and nose! I actually had a doctor tell me to never go out into the cold with my nose uncovered, and now is the time of masks, so this cowl is going to be double purpose as I use it to keep me and my mask warm in the winter! My project notes on Ravelry are here.

.Not only does this cowl go perfectly with my new V-Neck Boxy sweater, but it matches both of my winter coats. I’m going to get a lot of mileage out of this cowl!! The only other knitting was this: I got so cold this week that I cast on some new armwarmers that I am kind of inventing as I go along. Next week I’ll show them off.

Garden

The poor garden! The wind was so wild and the rain was so violent that there aren’t any petals on my roses that managed to bloom. The rose bushes took damage and I had to stake several branches and prune away others. I suspect that there might be some bug actions going on, too. Ugh. I noticed this afternoon that there is some recovery happening in the back so maybe by the middle of the week I’ll have something to show off. There is an English rose that I have high hopes for…

Let me offer instead this simple dress that I sewed using some batik fabric that I found in the stash. This pattern is Style Arc’s Montana Midi Dress. I’ll be lounging out in my swinging garden chair in this baby!

Style Arc is new to me, but I’m so glad that I found them on Amazon. I bought some other patterns that I will use to make simple summer capris and tops using more fabric that I have stashed away. Hey, if ever there was someone ready to stay home FOR MONTHS, that person was me!!

Oh, yeah. I killed an orchid this week too. I don’t want to talk about it, but it was one of my favorites, the rose gold orchid. 😦 It just goes to show that when a week decides to misbehave, it really misbehaves!!

Books

Sigh. Still reading. Nothing is finished. I had some trouble staying awake this week… Still, the weather has improved the last two days, I’m feeling much better, and there is a kitten who wants to hang out with me now. I’m sure to finish a book eventually.

This is where I usually close out and say…

Have a great week, everyone!!

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

but I feel like I should add that this is Scleroderma Awareness Month and I am racking my (scleroderma addled) brains trying to explain about this autoimmune disease that has turned my life upside down. It’s the reason (besides Covid-19) that I can’t just walk into a PetSmart to adopt a cat right now. Stay tuned. That post and one showing off a rose or two should happen in a couple of days.  In the meantime,

Have a great week, everyone!!!

The Saturday Update: Week 23

The heat arrived with a vengeance this week, and with it a lot of my energy went on out the window. Still, I made some progress on projects and it was a good week.

Knitting

I knitted like crazy at the start of the week on my Breathe and Hope shawl. If you missed it, I showed off a picture in my last post here. Then, after writing that post, I suddenly wanted to go back to the brighter colors of my Garter Snake Cowl and thought about how to add some fluff to my knitted Maya cat, so I shifted on over to those projects.

Maya

Do you remember my son’s cat Maya? She is an incredible fluffy tuxedo patterned Maine coon cat with lots of presence and even more attitude. I have been working on her knitted version for several weeks now. Last week I finished knitting her and showed off the pictures of the final knitted cat in my post last Saturday. I’ve been posing her around the house all week and kind of thinking about how I could add fluff to the knitted cat to make her look more realistic. I had moments of laziness when I would decide that she was just fine as a short haired cat. Then I would look at the cat again, posed on my bookshelf with MacKnitzie, and decide that I should enter into round 2 of cat creation with added fluff. Finally, today, I woke up energized to take the project on.

I cut lengths of mohair/silk yarn into three inch lengths, folded them into half, and then used a crochet hook to attach the loops to the knitted cat.
What do you think?

The work is going much faster then I thought it would, but there is a lot of cat that needs these little lengths of yarn attached. The final effect is so much more like the actual cat, however, that I am glad that I am doing it. I have the work arranged on a comfortable arm chair with good light in the front room and the plan is to work on Maya a hour or so every day until  have her done. Maybe by next week!

I am through all of the brioche in my Garter Snake Cowl and it is just garter stitch all the way now until I bind off. There is a trick to knitting this cowl that keeps it simple and the yarns tidy; you leave one yarn always in front of the work when you drop it to change yarns, and the other always goes in the back. It works perfectly, and the color changes are absolutely seamless.

Between the simple knitting of the cowl and the mindless attachment of the yarn to knitted Maya I’m finding that I have time to listen to some books on tape. Yay. I’m finally making some progress on my reading again.

Garden

The plants in the gardens are starting to look really good now. Perennials are in bloom, the roses are looking great, and my grass is looking mighty fine. I was looking forward to taking pictures today to show everything off… and then there was a high wind event and a thunderstorm that drenched everything and convinced me that I should take shelter in the downstairs bathroom for awhile.

My wooden bear was flung off the deck into the yard!

That bear is heavy! A wheelbarrow with rocks in it tipped over and my lawn furniture, even the wooden chairs for my outdoor table, went flying across the yard! I had been warned that the wind was coming so I did batten things down ahead of time, and for me the damage was minor. I do have a fence that needs to be fixed…

I can show off this pot of flowers that I bought this week. I had taken it safely inside before the wind came, so it is undamaged. 
Books

My book club met via Zoom this week, and it was kind of fun. We usually meet at a local restaurant, which is out of the question for me right now, but we all had drinks or food with us for the meeting and it almost felt the same. The book that we had selected was Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas.

Our June book club selection.

Catherine House was an immensely readable book that I just blew through in two days flat. It’s about an exclusive college with unusual rules: students can’t leave campus, have any personal possessions, or have contact with their parents and friends. Everything is provided, there are little limits on behavior, but the academic expectations are high.  There are strange traditions and weekly rituals that make team building exercises look like duck walks. The students have unlimited access to alcohol and lack social limits. Banishment to a reeducation center happens if you aren’t doing well.. Yeah. Things are not what they seem to be, and as you read what seems to be an endless account of student life that reminds you of Harry Potter without the fun magic, you realize that there is more, much more, going on than meets the eye. Something is really wrong with Catherine House, and our heroine is in danger… I just have to say that there are lots of characters that flit in and out of the story, and the plot is somewhat loosely constructed, so I think it was good that I was able to read this quickly; otherwise I might have been disgusted by endless academic life with little plot development and would have quit.

So what am I reading/listening to while knitting now?

I’ve started on the latest in a series of science fiction books that I like. I’m just a few chapters into this, so I won’t talk about it. I do have to say, however, that this audible performer, R. C. Bray, is excellent! 

I will mention that this series of books, Expeditionary Force, has gotten a little silly and formulaic, but the off shoot series, Mavericks, has captured my interest and I’m enjoying this book. 🙂

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 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.