The Saturday Update: Week 16, 2021

What a week it has been! I managed to get to 4 medical appointments on 4 different days which used up a lot of my available energy and time, but now that I’m vaccinated I have turned the Blue-Lipped Zebra loose again and it is absolutely determined to get to the bottom of what is going on! (What is going on, you ask? Check out these posts from the BLZ before it went quiet in lockdown: The Blue-Lipped Zebra Report! and The Blue-Lipped Zebra Goes on Oxygen.) This week I met my new pulmonologist, got some lung testing, saw the orthopedist, and started physical therapy for my hip. Whew. It was a rough week with lots of exhausting recoveries but also some great knitting action. Anyway, the BLZ is getting ready for some blogging updates and hopes to share what’s up soon.

In the meantime, here’s all the great stuff that was going on this week:

Knitting

Right after the start of the year I lost control and cast on lots of projects. You know, if you cast them on you have to do them, right? My head was just swimming with ideas and I want to make sure that everything was captured in yarn right away before I was distracted by the latest great potential project on Ravelry. A very dangerous place for people with huge yarn stashes, Ravelry… I’ve been steadily working on all of the projects depending on my mood and interests for weeks; this week several projects finished up at once.

My Goldwing is finished!! We had several rounds of snow over the last two weeks so I buckled down and knitted myself right off of sleeve island in just a few days to get to the final wearable product. There I am wearing it on its first outing to my pulmonologist’s office. Hey, they left me alone in a room with a full length mirror on the door with my new sweater? How could I let an opportunity like that slide by? I made some minor alterations to the pattern as I worked so that the sleeves and the body would be almost the same length and also used a smaller needle then the pattern called for in the sleeve colorwork because I wanted the sleeves to be wrist huggers. The end result was the perfect project to wear on a snowy drive across town. Here’s my notes on Ravelry.

This shawl is Age of Gold by Joji Locatelli; a simple garter stitch shawl that is easy to knit, has good coverage, and sports a showy lace edging. I *loved* this yarn when I bought it, but fell out of love while working on it sometime in February. Ugh. Light blue. What was I thinking. Maybe I was struggling with cold-induced depression, but I was not motivated to work on it at all. Then I realized a couple of weeks ago that it is exactly the color that my grandniece loves, took it back out, and got it finished off to gift to someone who will give it a great home.

The first mitt is done of the Mando mitt set. I’m making these for my exceptionally knitworthy niece who loves The Mandolorian. Of course, in my family I was immediately informed that the little green guy is named Grogew; the left hand mitt does feature Mando. Since I am mailing the shawl to California to my grandniece and think I should get these mitts done and mailed off to her mother in the same box, don’t you?! These mitts have been pretty darn challenging and I plan to post more about the journey later on when I get the second mitt done.

In the middle of the week my favorite LYS posted a message about having all of the assigned pooling yarns in stock. What is this, I wondered and went to Chasing Rabbits Fiber Co. to check it out. Oh, this is knitting designed to make use of skeins that are mostly one color with a section of another color inserted into it that is about 1/4 of the length or so. Chasing Rabbits is developing patterns to make use of the yarn with clever treatments of the color sections that are intriguing; in short, there is a specific stitch or treatment assigned to the short color strip. Here I was knitting some socks with yarn like that from Chasing Rabbits that were… boring and unimaginative (picture on the right). I ripped my sock out and reknit it with an assigned pooling idea that I would purl the colored sections and leave the grey knitted. The other idea that I had was to do something to force the color sections of knitted fabric to be more random so I threw in random PSS stitches to add some fun and change the length of the color sections. I learned the PSS stitch while knitting The Sharon Show in the section called “Catnip Garden” so these are obviously the Rainbow Catnip Garden socks. I’m thinking of using a bright pink yarn for the heels and toes so I can make two pairs of these!!

Gardening

Things are stalled outside because of the never-ending march of snow storms, but all is well inside. My orchids are in a second bloom that is making things really cheerful in the craft room.

The photo on the far right is of my monster orchid last year as CosmicKnitter asked me to show my orchid set-up and this picture did a good job of it. I like to keep the orchids in pots that “breathe” like unfired clay; I prefer the ones with holes in them but they are getting hard to find. It is dry here in Colorado so I keep water below the orchids with the pots suspended above the water on pebbles if the tray isn’t already designed with channels that keep the pot above the water. Anyway, the orchids seem to like the extra humidity and they are putting out more blooms this spring.

Books

I put off writing this post for a day hoping that I would get to the end of the book that I’m currently listening to while I knit: Hamnet. I still have three hours to go so I’m not there yet… but this is quite the book so I’m going to talk about it now anyway.

We learn right away that this is a book about a young boy, an only son, named Hamnet, who dies of the plague. Two years later his father writes a play called Hamlet.

So this is a book about Shakespeare and his family. Oh, that can’t be all that intimidating to write, right? I mean… Shakespeare. Did you every wonder what type of environment produced the man who had such an impact in his field and on his actual language that hundreds of years later we still celebrate his work?

I mean, if you write about this you need to make it kind of believable, and this book does that for me. It is mostly about Shakespeare’s wife, a gifted misfit with an eerie insight into the natural world, people, and the environments around her. The language is rich and descriptive, the story slow in the enfolding, and the events cling to me through my day. Shakespeare wasn’t alone in his extreme giftedness; at the heart of it was his wife Agnes and his children who provided the essential context to his life. Through chance these two found each other and the rest is quite literally history. Shakespeare’s wasn’t an easy life; he did not have a happy childhood and was basically viewed as a failure by traditional standards until he found his niche in London. How hard it is for those among us who view the world through a different colored lens and hear the sounds of music that no one else notices: this is Agnes and her husband. These people, some of whom were in my classroom or even my coworkers, can be viewed as “slow”, “underachievers”, or “at-risk” when the actual truth is they are processing information and viewing the world much deeper than we are. They don’t respond well to the usual pressures and deadlines, but what they produce when they are ready to show their work can be remarkable. The author captures this so well in the book; misfits and geniuses, aware of everything, and yet, oblivious to the obvious. Agnes and her husband.

The world in this book, so far from us in time, is also strangely familiar as international travel and the trade in goods has brought a deadly disease to Stratford on Avon. Shakespeare is hard to locate when illness breaks out because the theaters in London are shut down for plague season and they have taken the show on the road. There are strict rules about burial because… plague. The doctor wears a… mask. There are misunderstandings and lots of misinformation including bogus cures (as in… use this toad).

Well, that’s it. I need to finish the book because it continues to haunt me. Maybe I can get that second Mando mitt started while listening to it this evening.

Have a great week, everyone!

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

PS: I got my degree in biology. I am a biogeek!! Please forgive me it I botched anything about Shakespeare…

The Saturday Update: Week 8, 2021

Wow, the week just flew by again. We had lots of snow in the middle of the week, I had a great appointment with my new rheumatologist, and Hannah got the new toy of her dreams: an electronic flapping fish!

Almost a foot of snow arrived overnight in the middle of the week.

The medical center where I went for the appointment was in the heart of Denver and I had to drive fairly near my favorite yarn store on the way back home. Did I stop to look at the yarn? Duh… yarn addict here! I found the perfect yarn to replace the yarn I swiped from a sweater kit to make a new wrap, some fabulous blue speckled yarn for a fade, and more grey yarn because… I need grey in my life! Having scored more yarn again I buckled down and focused on the knitting to get at least one project done during the week.

I finished up Julie’s Wrap (Joji Locatelli) during the snow storm and it was really nice to throw on to wear around the house the rest of the week (and the weekend!) I used a dusty black cashmere blend yarn that doesn’t photo all the well, but it is extremely versatile and cushy to wear. The ribbed edging is slow to knit but very nice with the garter stitch body of the wrap. Can you make out the additional points built into the edging to give it some more interest and a little flutter detail? That would be the extra points at the top and bottom of the wrap in the right-most picture, but those little added-on points are also on the long edges towards each end. The points and bobbles make the wrap even more fun to curl up in to read a good book on a cold, snowy night. If a kitten joins in it is even better!

The other knitting that was going on this week was my pair of February socks. Okay, they didn’t quite make it, but they should get done in the next couple of days and my feet are totally waiting for them to enter service.

This is my own tried and true 64 stitch sock pattern using Hue Loco’s Phyllis Sock in the color #Trending from their 2020 Fall color lineup. I’m just loving how this colorway looks on these socks.

I polished off a couple of science fiction books that I liked but don’t feel up to discussing until I read another book in the series. I started a book last night, however, that I feel compelled to talk about right away…

Oh, my goodness! I’m three chapters (stories) into this book and it is so compelling and engaging that I am pretty sure that this is going to be the best book of the year for me.

A nice young couple lives across the street from me. Two summer ago they planted a little tree in the front yard of their house and babied it with deep soaks of water using a 5 gallon bucket with a tube to slowly siphon the water from the bucket to the roots of their baby tree. I have to be honest, this tree was kind of pitiful to look at: about 6 feet high, it had only a few bare branches on it. I would look out my kitchen window in the mornings all last winter hoping that this pathetic stick of a sapling would leaf out in the spring okay…

Spring came and the tree produced some hopeful leaves. I have to admit that I was a somewhat amazed. Then we had heavy spring snow that almost did the tree in, but a few leaves hung in there after the melt down, and a couple of weeks after that the tree produced immense white clusters of blooms. Look at that, I thought! This little tree, not too promising at the start of its life across the street, was a little rock star for sure. Those blooms on the stick of a start-up tree totally made my mornings!! One evening I went across the street while they were working in the yard to ask what the tree was: a catalpa tree.

World of Wonders has a beautiful drawing a biological organism to start each chapter/story. This is the drawing for the first chapter.

Unbelievably, the World of Wonders starts with catalpa trees; the author’s memory of sheltering from the heat under these trees, her mother’s place of work, the racism that her physician mother faced in her professional life, how social norms have changed over the last few decades, the immense catalpa tree on the university campus where she now teaches that she passes each day on her way to class, and the strong commitment and joy that she finds today in her work.

Just like that I was sucked into this book. The next chapter features fireflies, and after that peacocks. All of these have strong emotional connections to me and events in my life, and like magic as the author relates her sense of wonder and joy of nature interconnected with her family and life I am propelled into something of the same. This book is amazing, and I highly recommend it based on what I’ve read so far.

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 7, 2021

Hi. I’m Hannah.

The Kitten Mom is taking a nap now and left her laptop out so I will be filling you in on the week, okay?

The Kitten Mom and I spent most of the week hanging out upstairs because it was just stinking cold for most of the week! I mean, I hated to even go downstairs to the best window to watch for squirrels because my feet got so cold… and there were crazy noises in the night, too!! The Kitten Mom was startled awake twice by big bangs downstairs that didn’t scare me even a little bit. Seriously. Well, maybe my eyes got a little HUGE but I was totally cool. Really. I was so brave I went with her when she went downstairs to check things out…

The Kitten Mom left some pop cans in the garage and they exploded. She said that they went ballistic and flew through the air. I can fly through the air when I jump off the bookshelf. Do you want to see ballistic Hannah? Ballistic is my new word for this week.

We spent most of the week knitting and reading under the covers upstairs and the Kitten Mom also made two big pots of soup. I didn’t get any of the soup because it was made of really yucky stuff like green chili and baked potatoes… I like chunky tuna the best of all my kitty foods… maybe we can make chunky tuna soup next week? I will help make it!! I’m the best helper ever!!!

Anyway, here is the knitting stuff that the Kitten Mom did this week:

The Kitten Mom spent days and days working on the bobble bind off for her new shawl. This is soooo boring but I like to sleep under the wrap while she works so it could be worse. She got tired of the bobbles one night and started on a new shawl with nice blue yarn that is fun to chew on a little when she isn’t looking. She also started knitting a new sock in the middle of the week that was more fun for me because I like to whap the needles while she is working. Those needles are really a lot of fun!!!

We also worked on her new mitts that she is making for the lady in California who sent me the lemons to play with. I’m really helping with these mitts and they are coming out looking super good, don’t you think? I think that they should become my newest toy so I can drag them down into my box playhouse. Maybe the Kitten Mom can make them squeak when I jump on them?!! That would be awesome!

For some reason the Kitten Mom kept working in the stash this week digging around in the yarn. It has something to do with this other cat named Sharon from Security who is releasing a new pattern this week named Botanique. What ever. Is that like plants? I like to dig in the dirt of the plants in the indoor garden. Did you know that the orchids have wood chips in them that are great toys to bat around on the kitchen floor? Why do we need more yarn when there are wood chips? Anyway, she found this yarn finally and WE GET TO GO WIND THE YARN TOMORROW which is about my most favorite thing in the world. Next to having the Kitten Mom play with me using the red dot toy… that little red dot is the bestest toy in the universe!!

Do you think that these will make a nice shawl? I get to sleep on the Kitten Mom’s legs while she is knitting and these colors look like they will be soft and warm on my fur…

So that was the week. The only other thing that happened is that the Kitten Mom VACCUMMED the house today and took away all of my dusty paw prints on the tables. I was really brave and watched from under the bed while she worked but it was kind of stressful. Afterwards I got new toys and some kitty cookies!!

I think that the Kitten Mom is waking up and that means that my time at the computer is over. I want to go pull a bunch of clothes down off the hangers in the closet to make a little kitten bed for myself now, anyways. Laters!!

Notes from the Kitten Mom:

  • How cold did it get? It was -17 degrees Fahrenheit when the pop cans exploded. I looked outside while searching for the source of the noise and saw a lonely bunny huddled in the yard covered with snow. Tough night for bunnies and kittens.
  • The wrap with the bobble bind-off is Julie’s Wrap (Joji Locatelli).
  • The garter stitch shawl (blue) that I started this week is another Age of Gold by Joji Locatelli. What can I say. The bobbles were hurting my hands and I needed a nice break to work out the soreness… I should have the wrap finished in another week or so and the left over black yarn can be used to trim the new Age of Gold shawl.
  • The sock is just a homegrown pattern, but that yarn is Smooth Sock in the colorway #Trending by Hue Loco.
  • The mitts are the Mando Mitts (Natela Datura) and are an exercise in yarn handling as some rows use three or four colors. I am doing three at a time and planning on coming back to duplicate stitch in the missing details later.
  • The lady in California who shipped the lemons is my exceedingly knitworthy niece Melissa.
  • The shawl that Sharon from Security and Casapinka released yesterday is indeed Botanique. I bought the pattern and have the yarn all lined up to cast on, but I want to get something finished and off the needles before I do that. Must knit faster!!
  • I am currently in position 6, 231 on my health provider’s Covid-19 vaccine wait list. I have a whole bucket of medical testing coming at me in the next 6 weeks and the race to get vaccinated first is now on…
  • The worst disaster of the week? I somehow sliced some new yarn that came via squishy mail as I battled with the packaging to get it out, and I now have 15 pieces of this yummy pink yarn.

The Saturday Update: Week 6, 2021

It is really, really cold here today! Right now it is 1 degree Fahrenheit outside and there is snow on the way; tomorrow will be colder. I’m wearing layers of knitted warmness and thanking my lucky stars that we are just catching the edge of this outbreak of polar wonderfulness.

Hannah: Since we are staying in you can play with me, Kitten Mom!!

I bought a laser pointer to play with Hannah and now she calls for me to come play with her a half dozen times a day… she loves that moving red dot even more than cookies!!

Let’s see… what else has been going on this week… I moved up 4,000 slots on the virtual Covid-19 vaccine wait list which means that I think I will get an appointment for my shot in just another couple of weeks. Yay!! My 23andMe results came back showing that I am ridiculously healthy (except for that little autoimmune thing…), I have elite-athlete type muscles (huh?), and that I have a genetic propensity to hoard unused items. Are you kidding me?! How did they learn about my yarn stash? Anyway, the ancestry results show that I am about half Swedish (which I knew) and about half British/Irish, which I wasn’t sure about as my dad’s family has been here in the US for over 300 years and the name is something… absolutely not British or Irish. There is a little French/German DNA in the mix, so I’m guessing the name came from that. This is kind of fun and I’m considering pursuing the family tree further.

No word on the systemic sclerosis study, but my DNA is now officially part of the data base. Yay!

Knitting

Knowing that the deep cold was on the way I hurried and finished my Tinsel Mitts so that I could wear them over gloves this week when I leave the house. The rest of my knitting time was spent adding the edging to my Julie’s Wrap which is pretty slow going as that ribbing uses twisted knit and purl stitches. That’s a lot of knitting through the back loop, people! It looks great and isn’t pulling in the way typical ribbing does, but it is definitely slow going. I have another inch or so to knit before I start the bobble bind off; maybe in another week I’ll be there.

Reading

I read the next book in the mystery series I started last week featuring a Roman doctor attached to a regiment in conquered Britannia. Once again he has arrived at a new posting just after a murder has occurred… I’m getting pretty fond of Gaius Petreius Ruso, the protagonist in these murder mysteries, and I especially like his disrespectful and independent slave Tilla who is quickly moving out of that status when it becomes apparent that she was illegally sold into slavery. There, I knew it!! I listened to this book on Audible as I knitted away on the wrap and there may be another book in this series arriving on my Kindle soon.

Did I mention that Hannah has perfected her cat loaf posture and hangs out with me while I’m listening to the book and knitting along on the wrap?

Hannah: all the best tuxedo kittens do this!

Have a great week, everyone!!

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

And wear your (double) mask!!

The Saturday Update: Week 5, 2021

It’s Saturday? Seriously? I seem to have spent the entire week taking naps and doing a little knitting on the side. I’m still circling the cardiology airport trying to get a slot to come in for a landing, but my rheumatologist did call them up and chatted with them this week, so I have hopes for an expedited appointment in the near future. (If you missed my previous post about this it is an issue with Covid-19 long haulers with severe heart complications competing with me for the testing that I need.) I became officially slotted on the Covid-19 vaccine waiting list this week, so hopefully that will be coming my way soon, too. Oh. I also bought some more yarn online…

The Kitten Mom is sadly lacking in impulse control when it comes to yarn…

Knitting

I have been knitting steadily all week between naps and I really am making progress, but the projects are so big it isn’t all that obvious. My Goldwing sweater is slowly growing, and my Julie’s Wrap is now into the third skein of yarn. The pictures, however, are kind of underwhelming at the moment.

See what I mean? That is hours and hours of knitting, and the results are less than stunning. Wanting some quicker gratification I started on my Tinsel Mitts and finished the first one in the middle of the week.

The fit of the glove is just perfect, and the flip top for the fingers stays in place on the back of my hand until I pull it over my fingers. Because of the ribbing on each piece, the mitt and the top, the top really snugs up and stays in place. I have extra room in the top around my fingers so I plan to pad the flip top with fluffy wool batting (from my carder) and then will knit a lining for the top to cover the batting and hold it in place. I’m still thinking out how to make it work… maybe a little duplicate stitch basting to secure the batting…

Garden

I have been giving the African violets fertilizer at the first of the month and they are still putting out new blooms! I’ve been looking at the amazing number of blooms on the wine colored plant and I ask myself… how does this plant know that it is summertime in Africa…? Of course it doesn’t; I think what is really going on is that in the summer I put the plants in the kitchen window where they get the afternoon light, but when I move them under the bright grow lights of the indoor garden for the winter they respond and bloom. They get about 10 hours of light in the indoor garden, and obviously they are liking it!

The African violets of February…

Books

I’ve been listening to an audiobook this week between naps and knitting, and I chanced across one that is fun to listen to. I am a fan of Lindsey Davis and her Marcus Didius Falco books; what’s not to like about a private investigator solving mysteries in ancient Rome? I loved the tone and setting of the books; an autocratic and scary society that is shockingly familiar (do you have a permit for that addition to your property?) and yet clearly foreign. I loved Falco’s wit and flexibility with legalities as he solved mysteries and traveled through the Roman Empire through the 20 books in the series. It was with real anticipation that I started another series of historical mysteries set in conquered Britannia under Roman occupation.

Ruso is a doctor working at the medical center of the Roman fort in what is now Chester, England. He is having some financial issues. He has just relocated to this posting from Africa and it has been a pretty bumpy landing so far. He has recently acquired a female slave who is a native and he is definitely having some buyer’s remorse and trouble managing her care and work schedule. There is also an issue with some dead prostitutes…

Hannah kept watch over me while I was listening to the audiobook this week. I think that the bookshelf is her secret spy place…

I really liked this book. It was fast paced with a snappy dialogue, but it also seems historically accurate in how the Romans of the time viewed themselves, medicine, slaves, and familial obligations. Did the Romans keep records of virtually everything and do extensive financial audits? I’m betting that they did. Ruso’s male Roman superiority is just obnoxious at times, but I’m guessing it is also accurate. In spite of that, though, Ruso is a caring professional who really is trying to do the right thing for his patients, his family, and his dependent slave. I’m so glad I found this series and am already into the second book.

Have a great week, everyone!!

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

And wear your (double) mask!!

The Saturday Update: Week 3, 2021

What a week, what a week, what a week! We saw our new president inaugurated here in the US, I went wild and set up a plethora of new knitting projects, I had issues with my health through the week, and yesterday I spent most of the day in Urgent Care getting some testing done. Whew! Let’s just unpack the whole week, okay?

But first:

I knew there was a chance that I might be gone from Hannah for a few days if my new symptoms spiraled out of control so I installed a new Hannah cam. Alright, that was a little bit of a struggle as I hunted for screws to mount the camera (Hannah, where did you put the package of screws…) onto a shelf in the craft room. Never finding the correct screws for the mount I hunted through the garage to locate alternative screws. Got them. Then the power drill was… out of power… so I found a screwdriver. Right. There is no way these scleroderma wrists can put a screw into wood without a hole already there. Back to the garage for nails and a hammer to put a starter hole into the shelf. Hannah was a huge help through all of this, by the way. As I hammered in a nail to make my starter hole in the shelf Hannah swooped the screws off the table and onto the floor, because… it’s a cat thing. “Why is everything so hard…”, I muttered to myself as I rescued the screws and got them into the camera mount. Hannah moved up onto the shelf so she could help me work better… that little paw can work magic, right? Finally, finally I finished and checked to make sure the camera was on the network and working correctly…

The first thing I see through the camera feed…

Knitting:

I have been doing pretty good keeping my knitting WIPs under control. Then the government sent me some money and I bought yarn! Hello, just doing my part to stimulate the economy and support other people, right? I am just rolling in creative ideas for knitted projects and this week I bought and printed patterns, organized knitting kits and cast on with reckless abandon. You might say that there was a small explosion of knitting projects.

Did you get all of that? Let me tell you what’s up starting with the pictures on top, left to right. (1)I lost my mittens, so I need to make those Tinsel Mitts before it snows again. They have a flip top to cover the fingers and I’m thinking that there must be some way I can line them for more warmth. Maybe with some fleece or wool batting stuffed into the lining to keep it all extra warm around the fingers? Hmm… (2) I moved the Goldwing sweater up my queue and want to get started on it as soon as a couple of little projects move off the needles. That sweater is sooo cute and I love the yarn that I just bought for it. (3) I bought lots of bluish yarns while I was sad last spring, and now I want to stay warm without putting too much effort into it. I know that the Age of Gold shawl has lots of soothing garter stitch with a nice warm drape and good coverage so I am making it again with this blue multi yarn. (4) The group of pink and grey yarn is going to be used to make a pair of arm warmers to match my Secret Handshake cowl that I made in that MKAL last fall.

That takes care of the top row of projects. The bottom row shows the two projects, left to right, that I worked on this week along with the WIP that I carried into the week, the Geology Socks. (1)I wanted easy, calming knitting to produce snuggly warmth early in the week and went to Ravelry to look at patterns. I decided on making another Age of Gold but there was a wrap that really screamed that it wanted me to make it: Julie’s Wrap by Joji Locatelli. Darn. That wrap needed more than 3 skeins of yarn to make. Wait, wait, wait… I had 4 skeins of a dusty black cashmere/merino fingering yarn lined up for a sweater that could be directed to this wrap… bam! That yarn instantly became this wrap as I frogged the sweater and decided to knit Goldwing first. (2) The yarn on the right is to make a pair of detailed Mandalorian mitts.

Having made the kits and decisions, I then got busy. Once again, the projects are lined up left to right in the pictures above. (1) I have finished my first Geology sock and am started on the second sock. (2) I am making good progress on the Mando mitts even though you have to use three colors at once in parts of the mitts, and I need to add more detail with duplicate stitch after I finish. I don’t think that English is this author’s first language as some of the written directions are a little shaky, but the charts are golden and I’m just using the force and charging along fearlessly as I knit these mostly ignoring the directions. (3) the dusty black garter knitting is the beginning of Julie’s Wrap coming off my needles. Right now I have over 2 feet of done with 2 more feet ahead of me before I start on the twisted rib outer trim and finally the (be still my heart…) BOBBLES! that are produced in what I think is the bind off. I love bobbles! I learned how to knit backwards just for bobble production, and if ever there was a time to utilize that singular skill it is while making bobbles on a wrap that is more than 4 feet long. By the way, now that I’m knitting that black yarn I’m glad it is becoming a wrap because it is pretty darn streaky. See, a good decision!!

Scleroderma Chronicle:

Sigh. Then there is my continuing scleroderma adventure. I’ve been experiencing some intermittent chest pain that has become more severe and frequent over the last couple of weeks. When you are chronically ill you don’t call in every new development because if you did you would wear out your doctors and you’d absolutely exhaust everybody involved in your life, but when I had a 45 minute bout of chest pain Thursday night along with blue lips and shortness of breath I knew I had to get some medical evaluation started.

The medical group that I belong to has a 24 hour online “chat with a doctor” to get advice. The advice I got was to head to urgent care to get a heart attack ruled out. Okay. I can do that…

When you show up at urgent care with shortness of breath and chest pain you get double masked and whisked into a sealed exam room where you are isolated from everyone else and the medical staff wears all the protective gear available to them. Whew, that was fun. After testing and 5 hours of waiting (and starving because I hadn’t eaten just in case…) I was told that this wasn’t a heart attack (YAY!!) but that there was an issue with fluid around my heart. It’s an autoimmune thing. I need more testing and evaluation and may need to be hospitalized to get it done, but since it was the weekend I convinced them to let me go. Actually, I think that I was lucky that I went to urgent care instead of an ER as it made it easier for me to escape. 🙂 Referrals were made, summaries were sent off to my rheumatologist, and I drove home with my chest still hurting. As soon as I got home I shot off an email to my rheumatologist and went back to bed. Bad scleroderma, bad!!

My niece sent me soup today using DoorDash!

Today I’m up and doing better but taking it really easy. Yesterday was just another chapter in my scleroderma story, but it really impressed on me that catching Covid-19 would not be a good thing at all.

Wear your masks, people!!

The Saturday Update: Weeks 44 and 45

Late again, late again. I feel like a character from Alice in Wonderland. This time my excuse is the horrific anxiety associated with 2020 in general, and the presidential election in specific. I’ve been struggling with my scleroderma all week: blue-lipped and short of breath, struggling to walk, fatigued and in pain. Not a good week at all! I stayed in bed this weekend with Hannah and my knitting and I am finally coming out of it tonight. It hasn’t been helping me that the Covid numbers in my state are just skyrocketing to new heights and near by municipalities are clamping down with curfews and other restrictions. Sigh. Thank heavens there is a state-wide mask mandate that applies to stores or I wouldn’t be able to go out at all. I’m now in my 8th month of stay-at-home, and the end is nowhere in sight.

Is it safe to go out now? Nope. Not yet, Hannah!

In other 2020 news I now have email arriving in my inbox in Italian. I don’t read Italian… Who had this on their 2020 Bingo card?

It is snowing like crazy in the mountains this evening and we are finally coming to the end of our wildfires. Yay!!

Knitting

So, while resting up and avoiding the never-ending, anxiety-inducing election results I did get a lot of knitting done. Hannah was an exceptional help as I steadily worked on my shawl for most of a week, and then supervised the blocking for me as I worked with pins and blocking wires. Let me present to you my finished Far Away Dreams shawl (Joji Locatelli).

I am so pleased with how this turned out. Soft and very squishy from the garter stitch, it is perfect to wear on a cold evening or while reading in bed. I am coming to appreciate rectangular shawls as they are shorter in the back so they stay free when you are sitting down and are fairly easy to bunch up around your neck as a scarf under a coat. I ran out of the blue yarn so after some stash diving I decided to use the black MCN yarn for the outer trim, which totally worked as the lace yarn had black and blue flecks in it. So happy with the final result!

Once the shawl was blocking I dived back into my bag of unfinished projects and pulled out a hibernating sweater and those socks that I cast on with Hue Loco yarn a couple of weeks ago. I’ve focused on the sweater this week and the sock is seeing a little action too. Check it out!!

This is Misurina by Caitlin Hunter, a short sleeved cropped sweater knit with fingering yarn on rather large gauge of 20 stitches per inch. I am knitting this on size 6 needles to make this yarn work, and I am so happy with the fabric coming off the needles. I just separated the sleeves from the body of the sweater so things are going to go much faster now. I’m kind of wondering about knitting another one using DK yarn from the stash; I have enough yarn to make one with long sleeves. Hmmm…

I’m also working a little on the socks being knit with Hue Loco yarn (remember… I sort of lost control and went on a spending spree a few weeks ago and got yarn in every color in the new Fall palette. I regret nothing! It is important to have fun and some reckless moments while times are just crazy all around you…). Anyway, this sock is being knit with the Elixir colorway.

Elixir is the colorway next to the Uschitita on the left side of the picture. I’m working more steadily on the socks now as I can’t wait to cast on another color from the buying spree… I’m already dreaming about casting on the blue Uschitita or the purple Hue Loco…

Garden

It has gotten a little chancy for plants that live outside now that the ovenight temperatures dip below freezing so I ordered some shelves online and brought in my favorite miniature roses from outside and set them up in the living room to create an indoor garden. So happy to knit in my garden again in the afternoon sunshine in that room. The perfect spot to read. The favored cat nap spot…

Right now the leaves are falling off the roses as they adjust to the new conditions, but in my experience new leaves will arrive in the coming weeks that are adapted to the living room’s light levels. Yay!!

Reading

I am really in a mystery mood right now. I finished one last week and am working on a historical mystery/suspense book now that I’m enjoying.

Careless Whiskers is a cozy mystery and a fast read. The main character, Charlie, works part time in the college library and solves murders on the side. It’s a fun gig if you can get it. 🙂 He lives in the 3 story house that he inherited from his deceased aunt that is too perfect for words: the house comes with a housekeeper who takes care of everything including the laundry and cooks fabulous southern meals on the side. She even takes care of the cats! To make this even more envy-inducing Charlie has boarders who help out with cat-sitting and provide the meals when Azalea is off on the weekends. There is a giant Maine coon cat and a kitten in the book; both of these animals are perfectly behaved and never chase squirrels or climb the curtains… did I say that this is a cozy mystery? Anyway, there is a theatrical production, players with enormous egos, a death, and a cast of suspects that includes Charlie’s daughter. Charlie eliminates suspects between naps and meals that feature more biscuits then I eat in a year while taking the perfectly-behaved cat almost everywhere he goes. See, a perfect book to read during a difficult week.

I’m about halfway through Conspiracy and greatly enjoying the characters and the story. Okay, Giordano Bruno is one of my favorite characters ever!! A philosopher at odds with the Catholic church and an intrepid solver of murders, he is neck deep in intrigue in Paris this time. The battle for control between religious factions in Paris is pretty intense as Huguenots conspire to place their candidate on the throne which is currently occupied by a Catholic king. Bruno is caught in the middle of all of this as he is forced to work for King Henri, the English ambassador, and several other players on the board. Whew. Things are tough for Bruno who is trying to handle some personal issues of his own (like, maybe he can be restored to a state of grace with the Catholic church and perhaps run down a women he kind of likes…) while getting ambushed by different agents of the factions battling for control, and… he keeps losing his knife! The knife that Sir Francis Drake gave him in the last book! Surely, the knife will be recovered soon… Bruno needs his knife! This is an engaging book to be sure and I can’t wait to get to the end of it because I have another Bruno book waiting for me on the kindle. Yay! Good reading times.

Well, that’s it.

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 43

Oh, boy. What a week it has been. Election related news is heating up as we come into the homestretch for our presidential election. Covid-19 case numbers are climbing steeply in the state. The fires in our mountains continue and towards the end of the week a couple of new fires erupted and, in high wind conditions that kept aerial firefighting operations on the ground, literally exploded into a monster within hours. People scrambled to get to safety as the newest fire, the East Troublesome fire (really, that is the name…), grew 100,000 acres in one day, crossed the Continental Divide, and now threatens to merge with another fire, the Cameron Peak fire, which is currently the largest wildfire in Colorado’s history. The smoke plume from these fires is amazing as it fills the sky to our north. Both fires are burning in Rocky Mountain National Park and threatening the surrounding communities. It seems like just yesterday that I took this picture in RMNP…

Rocky Mountain National Park
This is the view south from the Visitor’s Center. I don’t know if this forest is still there. If you look closely you can see areas with dead trees in the pictures. One of the problems that we are having here is beetle kill in the forests caused by climate change.

Because of the extreme drought right now the forest is really dry and vulnerable to fire. This is the worst fire season in my memory; the wind has been blowing so strongly the burning embers are starting new fires downwind from the main conflagrations. As I said, it is a mess. Today, however, things took a turn for the better.

It’s really cold outside and snowing! We expect almost a foot down here by my house, and more in the mountains. This won’t be enough to stop the fires, but it certainly is a welcome break for the firefighters as this will certainly slow down the fire activity for them. Yay!!

Still inside avoiding the smoke I have been consumed with crafting and cleaning. I shredded piles of old financial records, sewed more face masks, washed all of the linens and cleaned out cupboards, and… well… I played with yarn and did a little online yarn shopping. Just a little. I needed a little more yarn. Blue yarn.

Seriously, there is a post growing in my mind about all of the blue in my life at the moment. Yarn. Books. Curtains. Toys for the kitten. Oh, yeah. There is also a post incubating about all the convoluted yarn decisions I’ve been making and the angst about color matches. I’ve decided to ignore these growing posts and all my little yarn issues for the moment and jump right into sock yarn.

I have been visiting Hue Loco online and checking out all of the new colors for the fall. I had already bought that blue speckled yarn on the left at my LYS, and it really, really needed some new friends. I ended up buying a skein of each of the new colors at Hue Loco with the thought that I would make socks from each skein and then, once I had a feel for the colors in the skeins, go on to combine them in a larger project like a sweater. Okay, I just wanted to have the yarn.
I started the first pair of socks this week. This color is called Elixir, which is the second skein from the left in the picture above. This is not how I thought this yarn would look, but I am loving it!

If you don’t know Hue Loco already, it is a local Colorado dye studio and I really like the colors. (It is also located right in the smoke plume of those wildfires right now, so I am really happy to support the studio.) New colors appear each two weeks which is a little bit of a problem for me as I discover with each new issue of yarn that it would be absolutely perfect for project that I’m working on. As I make project decisions I also discover that I need a couple more skeins of some yarn (usually blue) to make everything work. Okay, I have a lot of knitting that is getting lined up. So much yarn, so little time…

I need to clear away some projects to open up the slots for my new sweaters-in-waiting. I have a sweater, a shawl, some gloves, and a whole slew of socks that are WIPs, so I’m motivated to knit at the moment. I’ve been working on my new Far Away Dreams (Joji Locatelli) shawl steadily this week, but it isn’t all that nice to show off at the moment as it is basically a big blog of squishy blueness slowly getting some lace added on the edges. See what I mean?

Yep. One big blue blog of squishy yarn. I’ve just gotten started on the lace portion of the edging so there isn’t all that much to show off. Maybe by next week there will be lace worth showing off. I’m making kind of slow progress because…
I’m getting so much help from Hannah!

Since I don’t have really nice knitting photos to show off I thought I should throw in one of the finished Secret Handshake cowl.

Isn’t that the cutest cowl ever? I’m wearing it tonight to stay warm as it is about 5 degrees outside and that is definitely cowl weather!!

I’ve written about the Secret Handshake MKAL in the last couple of posts, so I won’t go over all the fun shenanigans online as a member of this knitting group, but I have to mention that the cutest, most perfect retro camping trailer has arrived in Casapinka’s backyard and Sharon is freaking out today as she finally has to come clean about secretly buying it online using the boss’ PayPal account. Did I mention that the next MKAL designed by Sharon is a glamping blanket to use in the camper?

Hannah: Way to go, Sharon!! Could you please send me a PM about how that PayPal thing works?

So that kind of takes care of the knitting of the week. I’ve also been reading away at a new science fiction series and a couple of murder mysteries, but haven’t finished any of them. Think of them as book WIPs. 🙂 My poor garden is buried under the snow at the moment except for three miniature roses that I dragged inside (to Hannah’s joy), but they are a not worth showing off at the moment as they were beat up in a sleet storm a couple of nights ago. I’m debating building them a shelf along the south facing sliding glass door instead of putting them under grow lights this year because…

Hannah has decided that torturing playing with plants is one of the best things ever and I’m a little concerned about having more electricity and glass lights near the plants that she is drawn to.

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 37

Well, this was a week. It seemed much, much longer, but really, it was only a week. My youngest son alerted me that he was battling some type of infection early in the week and the news stations began alerting me that the weather was going to be just wacko for a few days. The forecast was so crazy we made the national news.

Yep. We broke a record for the heat amid warnings of a serious snow storm on the way. The smoke from wildfires in the mountains west of me kept the sky a dirty white color and the sun a sullen red ball as I brought all of the potted plants into the garage for safety before the expected snow and hard freeze. The temperature dropped over 60°F in 24 hours and I had to start up the furnace. I covered the roses to protect them and my son started a second prescription of antibiotics.

Two days later the weather had warmed up again, the snow was gone, and I had carted all of the potted plants back outside for a few more weeks of sunshine. The fires in the mountains were chugging back to life after a few days of respite during the snowstorm, and a text had came from my son that started with, “Don’t panic…” His doctor had sent him to the ER, he was transported to a second hospital where he had emergency surgery and landed in the ICU on a respirator overnight. This afternoon he is off the respirator and sending me text messages again while I make calls to his nursing team. Because of Covid I’m not with him right now and I JUST HATE 2020!!! I think that we are all due a break.

Knitting

This was a week for garter stitch for sure. I did some work on the new Misurina sweater early in the week, but by the end of the week, aware that my son was not getting better on his antibiotics, I was all garter stitch, all the way.

I’m further down the yoke of the Misurina sweater (by Caitlin Hunter) and am happy with how it is going.

The colorwork sections of the yoke are separated by little cables, can you see them there in the grey? I was catching the floats in those cable stitches but you can see them peaking through because of the loose gauge so I am just making really long floats now. I don’t like to do that in general, and I have an idea of catching them later on with some clever stitching with grey yarn if they are a problem, but for now extra long floats are the plan.

Lured into a sense of autumn by the cold and snow I cast on another garter stitch shawl using some Mad Tosh sock yarn in the colorway “Rocky Mountain Colorado” that looks like all the colors of fall.

See what I’m talking about?

This is the Age of Gold shawl by Joji Locatelli.

The large garter stitch shawl is finished off with a lace border in a nice contrast color that can pick up one of the colors in the garter fabric. I kind of want to use a dusty pink that I have, but I’m also tempted to buy a beautiful saffron colored yarn I saw online. So many decisions in a week gone bad! Right now I’m just going to keep knitting and once I’ve got more yarn into the shawl I’ll have a better idea about which color I want to highlight. The trick is to make the colors sparkle instead of toning down the shawl… Ironically, because of the extreme heat followed by a hard freeze, the fall colors in our mountains won’t be that nice this year. Thanks again, 2020!!

Garden

Right before the rain started I went out into the smoky air and took some pictures while moving plants into the safety of the garage.

The stonecrop was just starting to bloom and covered with bees. Poor guys… hope they got home before the rain started.

While I was taking the picture of the bee there was a flash of movement to my left… a bunny in the back yard again!!

The stonecrop came through the storm just fine under the tubs I covered them with and the bees are back. I haven’t spotted the backyard bunny again, but the squirrels are putting on a show in the front yard for Hannah as they race around the front ash tree. As I took the knitting pictures yesterday I spotted this under my Douglas Fir (the only good Doug is a dead Doug… poor maligned tree): an owl pellet!!

The first time I’ve ever spotted one of these in the wild!

A little calling card from one of the great horned owls reminding me about the circle of life.

By the way, the mountain lion has been seen a couple of more times, but not in my backyard, thank heavens!!

Books

The Pull of the Stars was great! Set in Ireland, it is the story of a nurse working in a small ward with pregnant women stricken by influenza during the Great Influenza pandemic in 1918. The characters are rich, the historical setting and issues ring true, and I chomped my way though the book in just a couple of days. Along with the pandemic there are threads about the great war, shell shocked soldiers, the fight for Irish independence, prejudice against women, and the abuse of the “pipeline” that consumed women and children not protected by the sanctity  of marriage in 1918 Catholic Ireland.

The title is a nod to the origin of the word “influenza” which comes from an Italian outbreak in medieval times that was attributed to the influence of the stars.Our heroine nurse records each death and loss as tiny scratches on her watch. A moon for a lost mother. Tiny lines and half moons for stillborns and premature births. Every loss is recorded in time from an illness poorly understood and difficult to control. Kind of haunting, huh.

So I attended the live discussion with the author of this book at Barnes and Noble, and it was great! The author, Emma Donoghue talked about her work and answered questions from viewers that were general ones like “why did you choose this situation” or “how difficult was it to portray medical understandings of a century ago”. It was fine, but I also would have like to just “talk” about the book, the characters, and their actions with the other participants. Nope. No spoilers allowed. There must be a way to have reader chit chat just like the real book club would do. I guess I’ll keep digging and maybe ask B&N if there is a way that can be set up. It would be just another Facebook group, right?

Have a great week, everyone!!

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

Be kind to each other and stay safe.

It’s time for me to call the hospital again.

The Saturday Update: Week 36

I think that I am just about done with 2020. Never, ever has there been a year so ill behaved in my own memory. Today we hit a record high of 100° F where I live, and on Tuesday it is expected to snow. We had another case of bubonic plague in the state. A geyser in Yellowstone National Park, long dormant, has suddenly returned to life. Covid-19 cases are spiking in the states that surround my own. The nightly news continues to be a horror show, and some of it is just downright triggering. There can be no longer be doubt that the current administration is taking action to accelerate the Covid-19 infection rate in the US; stay tuned, folks: our fatality numbers are going to be astounding. Every day brings more tweeted lies and misinformation meant to contribute to racial tensions and general chaos, and the words “civil war” are popping up more often in my social media timeline.  The president was reported to disparage war dead as “suckers” and “losers” this week, and also encouraged his supporter to vote twice. This is just plain historic, but also very painful. I’m totally over living in interesting times.

Some days it is hard to stay cheerful.

But Hannah and I are doing our best. 🙂 Also, I’ve told Hannah that she can’t play with the squirrels because… plague!

Hannah: There’s a squirrel, Kitten Mom!! Let me out, let me out, let me out…

Shameless hussy squirrel chomping down my flowers, oblivious to the intensely focused kitten at the screen door.

Knitting

This was a hugely productive week knitting-wise. Well, nothing got done, but there was a lot of knitting going on! I am working on a second Far Away Dreams shawl with more yarn from the stash. This mindless garter stitch shawl is perfect and easy to handle while knitting in bed, sucking down oxygen, and listening to an audiobook.

I still have three feet of garter stitch to go before I start on the outer border. I’m going to use a white yarn speckled with blue and black that will be just awesome. Isn’t that a great blue color? Its name is “Denim”.

I also went crazy and cast on a sweater in the middle of the week.

After vacillating between color choices for a couple of weeks I settled on this combo to knit myself a Misurina by Caitlin Hunter.

Misurina has it all going on… cables, lace, colorwork, and some texture too. The original sweater was knit with a single stranded yarn containing a little linen and the gauge was pretty large… 20 stitches per 4 inches. I settled on two colors of single strand yarn that was pretty lofty in my stash and recklessly cast on using size 6 needles last week.

This sweater is knit from the top down and I have just made my way through the lace and am beginning the colorwork. I need to transfer my stitches to a larger size 6 needle, but they are kind of in high demand right now. Hmmm… It may be curbside pickup time at my local yarn store. 🙂

Hannah is a lot of help and is also totally a fan of the cashmere yarn I’m using for the contrast color.

In the background, being knit in chunks when new clues arrive, is my The Sharon Show shawl. If you don’t want to see this, I’m sorry. It really is too good to not show off. It is finally long enough to drape around my shoulders like a shawl which gives you an idea of all the colors and textures going on while this is being knitted.

See what I mean? Texture, lace, crazy stitches you never thought of before all coming together to make a totally fun, cat-crazy experience. Part of the fun is the totally cool and laid back group on Facebook that has been completely supportive of all knitting speeds and color choices.

This shawl and the whole MKAL experience has been the perfect antidote to the crazy world outside my doors. Peace. Joy. Color. Admonitions from Sharon to not be self-critical and to weave in all of the ends!!  Did I mention that each clue comes with a cocktail recipe? One of the best parts is seeing all the color choices of the other knitters: I am so going to have to make another one of these in blues… and maybe earth tones… My Ravelry notes are here.

Garden

The weather was cool for several days before the thermostat went back up into the high 90’s. Many of the potted plants were able to recover over the last week, and things are looking pretty cheerful out front again.

All the geraniums along the front walk are blooming cheerfully again.

The mini roses especially are looking good. Poor things. Little do they know that there is snow on the way…

I’m going to bring all the potted plants into the garage for a couple of days and then will go to heroic lengths to cover and protect the front roses to get them undamaged through the cold front and snowfall on Tuesday. Poor roses. The plants took a lot of damage in the spring from a late hard freeze, and here we go with an early one in the fall. 2020, knock it off!!!

Books

Okay, I lost a couple of days reading a book for my book club that was… not good. I refuse to post its picture online and I’m not going to say anything else expect that I’m pretty much done with my book group. NO one else read the book, and they decided to just get together at a restaurant for happy hour and a return to the days when we used to meet in person, and of course that isn’t something that I can do. I was already pretty disgusted with the week when this happened, and not being able to recover the two lost days of my life BECAUSE I READ THIS STUPID BOOK THAT THEY CHOOSE!!! I headed online looking for options. Hey, Barnes & Noble has an online live book club meet up that I could join. They picked a book that I want to read, and people are already online talking about how excited they are to have the book, and that they are reading the book, and that they can’t wait to talk about the book… I’m in!! I love books, and I want to hang out with other people who also love books, and I would also like to talk about the books!!

This is the book for the Barnes & Noble club. I started it last night!

This book is set in Ireland, during WWI and the Great Influenza pandemic. Our heroine is a nurse taking care of young pregnant women who also have the flu in an isolated fever ward. The book is also crazy timely as the disrespect of WWI fallen troops is a hot item in the news this week, and we all know about the pandemic… I’m only a couple of hours into the book, but it is engaging and interesting; I’m a fan! I’m looking forward to the actual meeting and discussions.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have a great week, everyone!!

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

Late Update: Just got a warning on my cell phone that there is a MOUNTAIN LION wandering through my neighborhood. Of course there is. It is 2020.