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.

The Saturday Update: Week 35

The days have finally cooled down here and the first leaves are changing color on my trees. The air quality is better as some rain showers in the evenings cleared the worst of the smoke from the air. The plants in the garden are recovering and so am I; the painful joints/muscles are now behaving themselves and I am getting good sleep again. I’m making more progress in cleaning my house (this week I got ride of fleeces that were at least 20 years old…) and am ready to return to a little quilting.

Hannah thinks that would be fun!
Knitting

I was really productive this week in the knitting department. I finished the Far Away Dreams shawl that I have been working on for a few weeks now.

This cushy shawl is just perfect for wrapping up in on cool evenings.
I especially like how the lace turned out.

Can you see in the picture above that the light outer trim on the right side of the shawl is just a tiny bit wider? I lost at yarn chicken and did the last row of the dark lace in the lighter color. I’m pretty sure no one will notice the difference while I’m wearing the shawl. 🙂 My Ravelry notes are here.

I like this shawl so much I already went digging into the yarn stash for more yarn to make another. This time I’m going to have a lighter outer border.

This will look more like the knitted sample shown in the Far Away Dreams pattern. I’m liking it!! The speckled white will be the lace border. I can’t wait to cast on!

I need another shawl to knit on because I’m racing right through The Sharon Show shawl. It is so much fun!! I can’t wait for the new clue to arrive on Friday and I usually have it done within a day or two. This week I focused on finishing the Far Away shawl and put off Sharon until the end of the week. I got Clue 3 done Thursday night and was just chomping to start Clue 4 as soon as it dropped. I’m now halfway through Clue 4. I won’t show the entire shawl because… MYSTERY… and I don’t want Sharon from Security to track me down with a citation (but I’m pretty sure that Hannah would be excited to have her come visit and maybe play chase-chase with her…) but here is a glimpse of my latest work.

How fun is this?!

I kind of want to cast on another one of these shawls, too, but I’m waiting to get to the end before I make the final color decisions.  I’m also fussing over yarns and color choices for another couple of sweaters these days (with lots of help from Hannah) and I’ve been reflecting on how robust my yarn stash is and how happy I am to be able to put together an endless number of projects using just stash yarn. Seriously, there is yarn in there that I’ve wondered, up until this summer, just what it could be used for that is now exactly the right amount and color for a new sweater pattern just dropped by a favorite designer. Good planning. Good luck. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

Garden

To you see this? The miniature roses are starting to bloom again. This year I plan to plant the roses into the garden to overwinter instead of bringing them indoors for the winter because, Hannah!

There are several new buds on the plant. Can you see them?
Books

I’m reading again now that my eyes have recovered. I’ve gone back to the 16th century for some murder mystery action.

It’s a murder mystery. 

Our hero is a lawyer named Matthew Shardlake who has undertaken an investigation in the service of the Lady Elizabeth who wants to ensure that justice is served in the murder trial of a distant Boleyn relative who is also embroiled in a land dispute with a neighbor. This story, written about a time centuries past, also echoes some themes current today. There is a lot of political uncertainty as the current king, Edward VI, is 11 years old and his uncle is ruling in his name. You get a sense that power is being abused; coinage is so debased it is almost worthless.  Landowners are turning out tenant farmers to enclose their land because sheep earn a better profit for them than crops. Displaced and homeless people wander the landscape in search of a living while the wealthy insist that their actions are necessary to maintain their way of life; the landless citizens are seen as dangerous and criminal by the more stable upper class and resentments are brewing.  The  shifts to the new religion and an English language mass continue and are also creating tensions. To be clear, this is a time of unrest and uncertainty that kind of rivals our own. In the middle of this a run-away wife is found murdered and  Matthew is dispatched to discover the truth. I’m about a third of the way through and I’m enjoying myself.

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 27

I know, I know, it really is Monday. Whew. What a week. There was a serious wildfire just south of me early in the week and the smoke came my way. I HATE SMOKE!! To be more specific, I go into a flare of my autoimmune diseases every stinking single time there is air pollution due to wildfire smoke. I have trouble breathing, my joints swell, I hurt all over, rashes appear.… you get the picture, huh. By the next day the fire was out, I was drugged up, and by the end of the week I was better. I cleaned the house, worked on projects, and looked forward to a little (I do mean very little) barbeque dinner on the 4th with one of my sons. This was a big deal as I haven’t seen my children since this whole pandemic started since every single one of us is high risk.

It poured rain. Ugh. Refusing to be daunted by a little rain we grilled the steaks in the garage with me carefully sitting upwind. Dinner was wonderful anyway and I was so happy to hang out with my son. He took off right before dark to head home as he had to work the next day and I began to clean up.

Then all hell broke loose! My neighbors, lots of my neighbors, began to set off fireworks. These weren’t innocent little firecrackers, but huge, booming, highly illegal skyrockets, that were being launched from homes all over my neighborhood and my poor little house was kind of in the eye of the storm. After the house was hit by falling debris I went outside to watch for fire. There I was, ash raining down on me, sitting on the driveway, shrouded in smoke, stunned by the deafening booms. Unbelievable. My son texted me later that his drive across the Denver Metro area through the fireworks barrage was an incredible, once in a lifetime, experience.

By midnight a few fireworks were still going off and I was already feeling dizzy and sick. Yesterday I was unable to get up, but today, after prolonged kitten attacks, I’m back on my feet slowly getting some chores done. Hopefully, by this evening I will be able to knit again as the swelling goes down in my arms. Happy Birthday, America. I’m kind of ashamed of you right now… and while I’m wagging my finger at you, let me just add… WEAR A MASK!!! Seriously, you might kill one of my children!! Stop with this “my rights are being violated” nonsense!

There. I feel much better.

Knitting

The accomplishment of the week was getting knitted Maya all fluffed up and finished.

Look at that face! Maya the knitted cat is now almost as fluffy as the original.
I gave her a total body fluff job that left her with a tail almost as fluffy as the original. This pattern is Cat by Claire Garland, and my Ravelry notes are here.

I was going to put more fluff on the back legs that went a little bit into the white socks, but I ran out of yarn and energy as I got down to the tail. Still, this final version looks much, much more like the original cat. My son took this knitted version home with him for the wild ride home under the skyrocket sky. Have a nice life, knitted Maya!

I’m also working on making some fingertipless gloves by adapting my little fingerless mitts pattern that I use to churn out mitts every winter.

I’m trying to write out what I’m doing while I knit, but I had to redo one of the fingers THREE times and then realized that I should have been smarter when picking up the stitches for the fingers. Hey, it is a process.

Isn’t that yarn cute? It’s from the stash and I started out with 50 gram of it. It remains to be seen if I will have enough yarn to make the second glove, though, but that’s okay. This whole thing is an adventure; when I’m done I’ll have a pattern that fits my hand like… ahem… a glove! The base pattern that I’m adapting is my sweet & simple vanilla mitt pattern, and this yarn is Baah Yarns La Jolla in the January 2018 colorway.

Garden

It’s hot outside. Thunderstorms have blown the petals off most of the roses. Life is hard in the garden right now, but the mini-roses that wintered in the house under grow lights are starting to bloom again.

It’s a little crispy around the edges, but it is trying! That rosebush is at least three years old and has survived its transition from outside to inside and back again over three winters. Pretty good for a $4.99 grocery store rose, huh!
Books
I read this for the book club this week.

One thing about taking it easy this week, I got some reading done. I finished another science fiction book and then started Never Have I Ever for the book club (Zoom) meeting this week. If you’re looking for a book with lots of twists and turns that will hold your attention, then this is the book for you! The book is about the members of (get ready for this…) a book club that picks up a new member from a rental home on the block. The new woman in the group is a flaming sociopath who seizes control of the club, starts a game designed to learn secrets and develop leverage that can be used against the other ladies of the group. Not nice! Especially if you have secrets that you need to keep secret!! Thus launches the cat and mouse game between our heroine and this evil interloper as the two women maneuver to secure their advantage over the other.  Our girl has to keep her family safe,  figure out who this evil monster-of-the-block is, confront her own past, make restitution, deliver retribution, and somehow disarm the monster while saving the day. This really was a twisty book that I devoured in one day.

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 18

Another week. It is just crazy, but with sunny warm weather the days seem to be going a little faster. The lawns have been mowed and I am working in the gardens now clearing out the debris of last fall and planting seeds into the bare spots. I managed to get my new roses planted and am now working on clearing out the gardens in the back… so many dandelions for the bees right now, so I feel a little guilty. Luckily there are lots of other things that I can get done out there before I dig and clear those last gardens.

So the pandemic is kind of overwhelming for me right now. The news here in the US is full of people storming the governmental offices and demonstrating to be allowed to reopen the economy. I get that, but what is insane is people demanding that their lives be returned to normal. You know, no more masks! Packed beaches! I want to go to the movies and to restaurants. I want everything to be the way it was! I refuse to take a vaccine! I don’t care that we don’t have testing! This is just affecting old people anyway, and it’s just fake news, so let’s just go back to normal!!!!!

Sigh.

This was me five years ago when I was first diagnosed with scleroderma, Sjogren’s disease, and all the rest that came crashing down on me in the months that followed as all of the test results and specialists visits happened. I get it. The loss of your former life can be crushing. Get over it. To pretend something is not happening is not “living without fear”, but rather just burying your head in the sand. It is happening. Be brave. Put on your mask, make the adjustments that you need to in your life, plan for the long haul, hope for the best, and plan for the worst. We will make it, but not if we all just act selfishly.

Books
I decided to switch the order of my weekly topics because this book is so appropriate for what is happening in my world right now.

I finished The Splendid and the Vile this week. Oh, my goodness. This is the book that I needed right at this moment. Imagine blackouts, nightly bombings, fires, thousands of casualities, and a pretty darn hopeless outcome as the nation prepares for invasion. Your allies are gone, and your friends just don’t want to get involved. In the midst of almost certain disaster Churchill emerged in Great Britain as the man that they needed at that time. Hugely energetic, positive, honest, ecentric, and ruthlessly demanding of the people around him, Churchill played a long game over years navigating his nation’s way though what can only be described as desperate times. His leadership and the development of central operations that placed and maintained a wartime footing over years was just inspiring for me and a great counterpoint to the nightly news. This book unpacked the early WWII years and made the people involved in the British effort come alive. I am so glad that I read it.

Now I am again picking away at several books at once trying to settle on one to carry me through the next week. I started a book called She by Pete Brassett because I had the audible version along with the book; I also kind of like British detective books so it was appealing. Oops. A book about a serial killer. What was I thinking of? I then started a science fiction book that is the last in a series that I’ve been reading. The Last Emperox by John Scalzi is set in a scenario where civilization as they know it is collapsing and the rich, powerful corporations are all scrambling to secure as much profit and security as they can in the unfolding chaos and uncertain future. There are machinations, betrayals, assassinations, and blantantly unscrupulous business practices that completely ignore the welfare of “the little people”. What was I thinking!! This is perhaps not the best book for me to be reading at the moment. I can go back to American Dirt (desperate mom tries to escape Mexican cartel and get to America and safety… maybe not) or return to The Mirror and the Light (more political maneuvering with a unhinged leader at the helm; death and betrayal is everywhere…), or just give up and read some nice Japanese cat comic books that I have. That’s the ticket! I am going to focus on The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home for a few days!

It’s a plan!
Knitting

My needles have been busy this week. You know how it is. You can work for days and days without seeing any progress, and then suddenly it is apparent how much you have actually gotten done.

I finished up my Sweet & Tartan socks this week. I am so happy with how they came out and couldn’t be more pleased with the pop of color that the I-cord at the top gives them. I wore them for a couple of cool days this week and they really stay in place. My notes are here.

Then there is the knitted Maya cat that I am making for my son. The knitted Jonesy needs a friend, right?!

I’ve finished the back from the tip of her nose to the end of her tail. Next I will be doing her legs.

You can’t see the cat in the above knitted cat rug? Huh. Maybe I should show it to you in another format.

There, is that better? I’ve draped the knitting over MacKnitzie so you can see how much progress I’ve made. I’m well on the way to having a cat!! This pattern is Cat by Clair Garland. My notes are here.

I’ve also been knitting and knitting on my new V-Neck Boxy sweater. I am about 9 inches below the armhole now and am approaching something that might be looking a little like a sweater.

What do you think? This is V-Neck Boxy by Joji Locatelli.
Garden

Things are starting to come to life out back. I have an immense shrub by my back deck that is almost as high as the rain gutters. It is now covered in blossoms.

The shrub is absolutely covered in these scented blooms… but they don’t smell nice. I’ve actually been keeping the patio door shut to keep the scent out of the house. Later on this shrub will have nice little red berries on it. I’m pretty sure that this is a Viburnum.

Remember my very unhappy roses that I put back outside after they spent a winter being babied in the house under grow lights? They are slowly toughening up, and today I saw this:

Aww… it managed to get a bloom out. See little guy, you will be okay.

Well, that’s all for the week.

Please, please, everyone, be safe!

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

The Saturday Update: Week 15

Big Blue looking in the window of the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.

It’s right at 8pm here at my home in Colorado, and I’m typing this listening to a cacophony of howls (haroooo….) and fireworks. The Colorado Howl has really taken off as the Covid-19 pandemic heats up in my state; we also made the national news this week as politics interfered in our governor’s efforts to secure us the supplies that we need for Covid-19 patients. There are some serious outbreaks occurring in the state, and the huge convention center in downtown Denver is currently being converted into a field hospital for 2,000 Covid-19 patients in the days to come. I smile to think of Big Blue looking in the window to cheer up patients in the field hospital, but I wish so much that this wasn’t happening. I hope that everyone else is doing okay and had a good week.

Knitting

I’ve been knitting away on a couple of projects at once; one demands my attention and the other is kind of low level knitting. Check them out:

My first Sweet & Tartan sock now has a heel.

Once past the heel the tartan pattern is maintained on the top of the sock and the bottom becomes striped. I’m so enjoying this sock and can’t wait to wear it. I’ve already gone stash shopping to find a few more yarn contenders to make some other Tartan socks.

Most of my time was spent knitting away on the new V-Neck Boxy sweater, although you wouldn’t know it from the heap of stitches…

The V-Neck Boxy sweater is constructed seamlessly from the top down, but it has some interesting features. It starts with the back yoke stitches knit down from the shoulder CO, which are placed on a holder once you are ready to join in the round. The front stitches are then picked up at the original CO at the top of the shoulder, and then down to reach the same point as the back stitches. I like this modular approach since there is kind of a “seam” at the top of the shoulder that gives the sweater more stability when you wear it. I’m now knitting the second front section and soon I’ll have everything all joined up for knitting in the round. Yay!

Garden

It was sunny for most of the week so I took the miniature roses outside for some sunshine excitement. They responded by bursting out some new growth.

Towards the end of the months indoors under the grow lights the miniature roses are really dying for some quality sunlight. Look at how this one responded to just a week of good sunshine.

The orchids are still hanging in there, but the weeping fig tree that I pruned last week is now dropping leaves (!!) and look at what happened in the kitchen…

Remember my excessively cute miniature kale plants?
This week this happened. I overwatered them and they got moldy… There was no saving these little guys. I should have not closed up the little glass house on them.
My miniature African is still hanging in there or the kitchen window sill would be really sad looking.
Books
This week I’ve been reading books with blue covers. 🙂

I still need to finish American Dirt, but it got paused for a while as I was just too sad to read a book about a woman dealing with desperate times last week. I jumped to the newest book by an author that I really like, Jack McDevitt, and cruised right through the latest book in his Alex Benedict/Chase Kolpath series. I really like these books. They are fun and kind of unique; Alex runs a business that deals in ancient artifacts of historical significance, and Chase is his starship pilot and girl Friday. There is always a mystery to solve, philosophical questions to answer (What is life? To whom does history belong?), and a cast of interesting characters. The books are set far in the future, and the historical artifacts that Alex pursues are from people and lost colonies/ships that exist far in our future, but long ago in Alex and Chase’s past. There is astronomy in the books; who knew stars and plants could have all of these things happen to them? Chase takes insane risks and wrecks a lot of flyers. Alex is always a couple of steps ahead of Chase in solving mysteries and has a habit of just whipping out significant details when it seems they have run out of leads. Chase serves as a moral compass from time to time. Alex is a celebrity, and Chase writes best selling autobiographies of their adventures. The AI of the interstellar ship is my favorite as she provides the adult voice warning them to not do insane things, and then has to rescue them when they ignore her. You know, like a mom, or those scientists in disaster movies. Can you see why this is a series that I enjoy a lot?

In this book, Octavia Gone, a research station studying a black hole abruptly vanishes, and an artifact with an unknown language is found in the belongings of one of the lost crewmembers. What happened to the station? Where did this artifact come from, and how are they connected? Is it possible that aliens did this? Was the wormhole near the black star involved somehow? As the team chases answers they run into huge moral and ethical conflicts that complicate their investigation: secrets and promises that have unknown consequences.  Eventually they discover what happened to the station, and achieve some resolution to their ethical dilemmas while providing answers to the families of the lost crews.

Well, that’s all for the week.

Please, please, everyone, be safe!

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