The Ash Tree Presents…

August has finally arrived; the worst of the heat is almost over and the monsoon is right around the corner. The cicadas are buzzing in the cottonwood trees, and there are birds everywhere. Trees love August here in Colorado; more water and cooler temperatures. My ash tree, beautiful, pampered (he gets an injection every spring to protect him from emerald ash borers, a particularly nasty tree parasite) and greatly loved (well, he provides afternoon shade and is totally rocking his last prune job), is the star of today’s main events. Take it away ash tree!!

Shawl
The Solaris Shawl is done! Look at the great play of colors against my trunk…
Shawl in tree
The colors of the edging really show off the texture of my bark, don’t you think?
Shawl in tree
and the drape of the leading edge?… just too stunning against my leaves. My owner seems to be pleased with the final product. I tried to convince her to leave me yarn bombed in the shawl, but for some reason she took it off… something about showing it off tomorrow to her knitting group. Whatever. Unless they have ash bark (see what I did there…) it won’t look as nice on them. 
Apria Truck
Just as the day was cooling off this truck pulled up in my shade. Oh, oh. She didn’t seem too happy about this.
Oxygen bottle
Yep. This happened. She is now set up with oxygen-to-go. I hope this means she will be spending more time outside with me. The roses kind of miss her.

Notes:

  • The shawl is Solaris by Melanie Berg. My notes on Ravelry are here.
  • Ash trees do come in female and male varieties. My tree is a male. How fun is that?
  • That oxygen bottle comes with a stylish backpack to carry it in. I’m over feeling upset and will be rocking the new look the next time I head out for groceries.
  • They didn’t have the right size oxygen bottle to give me, so tomorrow the truck is coming back. I may not make it to knitting after all. <sigh>
  • I learned to knit brioche stitch tonight. It was surprisingly easy. Must be all the oxygen.

 

 

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Solaris Shawl: The Blue Lips Special

I’ve really been dragging lately. I’m out of breath, my arms and legs just don’t want to go, and every now and then my chest hurts. This has been going on since around the first of the year, and so far my pulmonologist and rheumatologist haven’t located a definitive cause. It’s a scleroderma thing, they tell me. I’m on oxygen overnight now, my immunosuppressive drugs have been increased, and I’m just maintaining.

That was until I noticed that my lips were blue one morning while combing my hair. Blue lips? That can’t be good. I did some google searches, scared myself silly and then began to check the mirror more frequently during the day. Two weeks later it was pretty clear that I was rocking the blue lip look every time I came up the stairs. I bought a pulse oximeter, and began to record my blood pressure and oxygen levels throughout the day. Finally, admitting to myself that this was a true phenomenon, I called the doctor.

Of course everything went out of control as soon as I made the call. Now I’m in the middle of testing and doctor appointments. Monday was an especially ugly day; I flunked the 6 minute walk test in 2 minutes flat and was put on oxygen in the hallway. Darn!! It’s a sure thing that I will be lugging an oxygen tank around in a backpack in the near future as soon as I finish the current round of doctor visits and testing. My next doctor appointment is Tuesday, and I think I won’t be able to put off the oxygen trolls any longer after that.

So how have I been handling all of this? Well, when everything is falling apart around you, it is best to just knit, knit, knit! Seriously, knitting is positive, productive, meditative, never talks back and consumes very little oxygen. Perfect! I’ve been just cranking out my Solaris shawl over the last week and the end is now in sight. It is going to be beautiful. Check it out!

Shawl
I’m in the final edging; I just have a few more rows of color to go.
Edging Detail
Check out the stitch detail of the edging.
Yarn Detail
The colors that I am using all come from one ball of Crazy Zauberball. You can see how the colors change in the ball in this section of the shawl. I just pull off yarn from the ball until another nice color emerges for my next strip of edging. The project details are here on Ravelry.

So, next week should be a big one for little ol’ me. I’ll be seeing my primary doctor for a breathing needs evaluation, hopefully I’ll be saying goodbye to the blue lips, and my Solaris shawl will get finished up.

I’m not sure how this is all going to turn out, but I’ve got a big shawl queue all ready to go.

It is good to be a knitter!

 

 

Outdoor operations

The weather has really warmed up and stabilized this week; sun, heat and no thunderstorms; just what I needed to make my aching muscles and joints behave themselves. This week has been a good one and I took to the backyard for most of the afternoons. There’s a lot that can be accomplished outside. Let me take you on a little tour of my days.

That's right!
MacKenzie: when she says that she took operations outside what she really means is that I was forced to share the swinging garden chair with her. Does she not understand, June is for cats?!!

The shade of my locust tree covers the lawn swing and a couple of the gardens. What could be better for a person with a latte and an incredibly good book?

The City of MIrrors
The aforementioned book…

I’ve been consumed with the Justin Cronin novel, The City of Mirrors. Oh, my goodness. What a well-written, tightly-crafted book to spend the summer afternoons with. I read the first two books in this series and I wasn’t completely sure that I wanted to dive into a book of over 700 pages to learn the fate of mankind in their battle against the Zombie apocalypse, but the reviews made me take the leap and I pushed the “buy” button on my NOOK. Good decision. I keep highlighting passages that are just so wonderful I want to savor them later. I usually race through good books but this is one that I am stretching out so the experience will continue. The perfect June book.

After an hour of reading the knitting begins. Check out my progress on the Solaris shawl (by Melanie Berg).

 

Shawl
I’ve gotten through the first two color inserts in the shawl. To get a different color in the short row section I pulled off some yarn until I was at a new section. Fast, easy, simple.
Colors in ball of yarn
and I still have some great (crazy) colors in the ball to use. Project details are here.

I’ve also taken some weeding breaks. The little roses in my tea rose garden are now blooming, and I have gotten the weeds pulled out of another couple of patches. There are a lot of weeds, but everything is getting ready to bloom so I’m pretty motivated to keep at it.

Rose
The bloom on this tea rose is just great; really big for such a small plant.  This was one of those little roses that are sold at the grocery store. I put them out in the garden when they look a little worn out and they winter just fine here in the Denver area.
Mess
Here was today’s project. Do you see the rose plant in there?
Rose
Oh, there it is!!

Towards the late afternoon as things really warm up I water the flowers and gardens and head inside for food, the news and more knitting (bet that was a shock, huh!) Even the cats are ready to come in by that point. OK, they get kitty treats for coming in, but they would probably come in anyway… especially since I just watered all of their favorite plant nests. 🙂

Outdoor operations have ended for the day.

Tomorrow I am going to attack another garden!

Have a great weekend everyone!!

 

Crazy Knitting

Yep, I am totally knitting on the wild side; I hit the stash last week and pulled out some Crazy Zauberball in the wildest, hottest colors I had. Sometimes you just need to have some zing in the knitting, you know.

It seems like forever since I made something for myself. I made mitts to give to scleroderma patients, I’m still working on the PuppyPaca yarn for my friend Deb, and I have several more alpaca projects to finish for Alta Vida Alpacas. Last week I kind of snapped, found the Crazy Zauberball, and decided to make some fun things for myself. Check out these little bed socks: fun!

Socks
This yarn is Crazy Zauberall, and it is so rewarding to knit with. It is pretty light weight and knit a little loosely in this pattern; perfect for bed socks. Then there is the lace… These Om Shanti socks are from the Socktopus book by Alice Yu.
stuff
The heels and toes are knit with a short row technique that really made the toes strut their stuff. Ravelry notes are here. 

I have enough yarn left over to make a pair of mitts to wear in bed too. The colors of this yarn just make me happy. I will have to make the mitts for sure.

Mostly the gardening has been on hold this week. It has really warmed up over the last few days and suddenly roses started blooming. Here are the first ones to open…

Hot Cocoa
The Hot Cocoa roses by the front door are doing great. I covered them several times this spring with blankets supported by tomato cages between the rose plants. All the attention has paid off big time! As I was leaving for a doctor’s appointment I glanced at the front of the house and there was the bloom!
Home Run Rose
My Home Run roses by the driveway are now almost 3 feet high and suddenly they also began blooming. These guys will bloom all summer!

The backyard gardens are still jungles, but it rained hard last night so I’m hoping to weed out another flower bed tomorrow morning. How lucky that plants are patient.

Cat asleep on shawl
Kitty revenge can be quite a thing: MacKenzie still hasn’t gotten over the washing of his blanket. He spends very little time on it now, and has taken to sleeping on my “Waiting for Rain” shawl. He’s so sweet I’m letting him keep it for now.

One Crazy Zauberball project just isn’t enough right now. As soon as the bed socks were done I grabbed another ball and cast on another project just for myself.

Yarn
May I present the yarn for a Solaris shawl by Melanie Berg. The shawl is supposed to use 5 different MadelineTosh Unicorn Tails (in five different colors), but I decided to use this wild Crazy Zauberball yarn for the colored sections. There are at least 5 different colors in there; I can always pull off yarn to get to another color if I need to as the colored sections are pretty short.

So why did I snap and start the crazy knitting for fun? The truth is, I’m somewhat miserable these days. For reasons I don’t understand June is the month when my illness decides to get particularity ugly on me. For the third year in a row I just feel pretty darn sick. My muscles and joints hurt, I’m dizzy, my gut is misbehaving, I’m running a fever, my arms and legs have developed edema…  I got out of breath and had to use my inhaler while winding a ball of yarn last Wednesday at my knitting group. I’ve been in to visit doctors twice already this month, and really, there isn’t too much that they can do. I’m in a flare for sure. Mostly I don’t leave the house much, but I can still knit.

You see why I broke out the Crazy Zauberball? Bright happy colors that change quickly. How can I not smile while knitting lime green and deep rose? This month I totally need some knitted hugs of happiness, and Zauberball delivers big time.

Got to go. I’m at the part of the shawl where I start knitting in some crazy color. Bright purple! Woohoo!

Have a great weekend everyone!!

 

Rainy Day Story

I have been knitting on mitts like crazy, but for some reason I have shifted my interest to shawls. Seriously, I am dreaming about lacy shawls and the yarns in the stash. Must. Have. A. New. Shawl. It is a serious case of shawl longing for sure. It is less than a month from the Interweave Yarn Fest and I need to be flashing a new shawl when I go. It’s a matter of pride.

And besides, it is raining outside today. Gloomy. Cold. I can’t be expected to knit in these conditions. I need to go on a pattern hunt and then it is time for some serious stash shopping.

Yarn
Lydia Sock Yarn in the colorways “Garden Party” and “Forbidden Fruit”

I think that the whole “I need to knit a shawl” thing started when I saw this yarn at the local yarn shop. Doesn’t it look like a great warm weather shawl? I want the body of the shawl to be in the light color and the bright yarn will be used for some type of color pop. Maybe knitted lace at the bottom of the shawl can be in the bright color. I have some shawls in my shopping cart at Ravelry (OK. There are 58 items in the shopping cart. Some of those must be shawls, right?), so I headed on over there to see what I could find buy.

 Image credit: Softsweater

 

We have a winner! This is Waiting for Rain by Sylvia Bo Bilvia. I’ll be adding lace to the bottom and maybe some other pops of the bright color yarn. I bought several other shawl patterns that were in my cart while I was there with a smoking PayPal account. Here they are:

Well, once I had all of those patterns printed out I headed up to the stash to dig around and match yarns with the patterns. My stash is in the walk-in closet in the spare bedroom, so I took my laptop and a latte up with me and dived in.

Computer and yarns
As I  matched yarns with the patterns I entered them into my queue on Ravelry. How organized is that?! I was digging through lots of yarn as I made my decisions so I just gave up and…
working on the floor of the stash room
worked on the floor of the stash room surrounded by little tubs of yarn as I made decisions and assembled the kits for the shawls.
Yarn in kit
This is one of the shawl kits. I have the yarn for “Waiting for Rain” together with the pattern and the needles that I am going to use. This is the shawl that I plan on starting as soon as I’m done with the current projects. (I may even be able to stick to this plan… mostly. I can cast on a few more projects this week too, right?) I have the yarn and patterns for “Exploration Station” and “Solaris” also in this kit, but am still deciding on the final yarns that I will use. “Exploration Station” is the one that is the hardest for me to make a decision on: a new yarn color may need to acquired.
Yarn and pattern
The other shawl that I am dying to cast on is this Best Friends Shawl that I plan to get done in time for a friend’s birthday. The pattern is for two shawls with the colors reversed. My friend will get one one and I get to keep the other. It will be great!! I can’t wait to see how these two colors play together. I put this shawl in the number 2 slot in the queue.

I am so fired up and energized to get knitting on the new shawl projects. Check out my Ravelry queue; it is now really shawl intensive. This afternoon the sun came out and I spent some time knitting on the current projects. I do believe that I will have some FOs to show off by the end of the week.

About stinking time I got something finished.

 

 

 

Say Hello to my Little Joker…

Actually this is the second The Joker and the Thief shawl by Melanie Berg that I’ve knitted. When I picked the yarn to make the shawl I struggled with the color choices and ended up putting together two color combinations. The first shawl was navy with a bright fushia/gold gradient (that one is mine, mine, mine and has already seen a lot of wear…), and the second one was interesting but probably not the right colors for me. That’s cool. It is Christmas time and I know exactly who I am going to gift this shawl to. I knitted on it like crazy over the last week and tomorrow it will begin winging its way to its new home.

Cat on shawl
What! This Joker wasn’t made for me??

To give MacKenzie credit it was kind of easy for him to get confused about ownership concerning this shawl since he spent most of the time I was knitting it lying on my legs with it draped over him. Such a sweet boy… (Actually not. He gets pretty grumpy if he doesn’t get his way so I mostly go along with his requests. Mostly. Did I mention that he is a big cat?)

Gathered shawl
This is what the shawl fabric looked like before blocking. Yikes! Gathers and cat fur…
Shawl close up
After blocking the fabric opened up and the criss-cross stitch became more showy.
Shawl
and here is the finished product!! I’m pretty sure this shawl will be happy in its new home.

I used a Frabjous Fibers Cheshire Cat gradient pack for the jewel tone colors and added the burgundy color from the stash. It was a little intense settling on the colors by I am happy with the end product. Here all the details on Ravelry.

Almost ready for Christmas. Woohoo! Bring it on, Santa!

 

FO: Drachenfels Shawl is Done!

Over the weekend my wrists got better and I did a little knitting (3 – 5 rows)  to exercise my hands. Yesterday the braces came off and my wrists were A-OK again, Yea!! I don’t quite know what happened, but what the heck. I got to work and finished up the Drachenfels shawl.

Shawl
I’m in love! The yarn (Anzula Squishy) is 10% cashmere, but it seems like more. The shawl has great drape (knit on size 4 needles) and the variation in the yarn makes it kind of glow when seen in the flesh. This baby is big and it just wraps me in squishy warm softness when I put it on. 
Edging
and the edging! Look at this. I used four colors in the shawl instead of the 3 called for, and the black is the 4th color. I just love this edging; the colorwork gives the edge a little weight and helps the drape. The I-cord bindoff is done on needles 2 sizes larger (I used a size 6) so that the edging has the perfect amount of stretch.  Here are my notes on Ravelry.

This shawl has been going on for awhile. Instead of posting all the pictures again I thought that I would give the links here in case anyone wants to look back at my Drachenfels’ baby pictures.

The shawl needs some blocking but since it is so big I’m not going to wet block it. Besides, I am just dying to wear it and who wants to wait that long? I’m just going to hit it with some steam,  smooth it out a little, and put this yummy baby to work.

I’m off to wind some yarn. Must knit more!!