Reporting the Launch of some WIPs

Last week after getting some big projects out of the way I pulled out more craft stuff and got going on the Christmas knitting and messed with some other crafts. Now I’m rolling in the WIPs, but hey, who wants to be stuck in just one project? Boring!! Better to have several going at the same time with different features

Mitt
Detail work: these mitts are tedious with the charted lace pattern, beads and twisted ribs. Great for focused knitting during a football game. (Akiko Mitt, Ravelry page here.)
Jujuy Shawl in Progress
This shawl is all garter and a simple mesh knit. Ahh! My Netflix binge watching buddy! (Jujuy Shawl, Ravelry page here.)
Warped loom
and for the sunny mornings, what could be better than a cup of latte and time at the loom. I warped up my little table top 8 shaft loom to play around with some different ideas.
Weaving
Here’s my first effort with some old Christmas yarn for the weft…
Weaving
and this is what the same pattern looks like in a balanced weave with a tencel yarn of the same weight as the warp.

I’m thinking of making a scarf. There are lots of different treadle patterns possible with this warp, so I’m digging in the yarn stash to see what else I can play with. I just found some lace weight grey alpaca, and there is this alpaca/silk yarn too… Gosh, this is fun. 🙂 I might even figure out how to record this on Ravelry. Other people have weaving projects recorded. Must push the boundaries and learn something new!

Snow on flowers
The only other news around here is that it finally has snowed.
Cats
Overall the cats are disgusted with the change in weather, but amazingly have become buddies again in the cool air. Ah, the circle of life. Gone are the bug hunting days of summer, and here again are the feline pile-ups of winter. 🙂

Happy Christmas crafting everyone.

Christmas Make #2 and More MItt Madness

It’s been a crazy holiday week here with more snow, deep cold and bored, house-bound kitties. We spent the week getting another bit of Christmas sewing done and continued with the mitt making. Well, I sewed and knitted; the kitties chased, chomped and shed fur over everything. Still, it was a productive week. Here’s everything: sorry about the dim light but I haven’t seen the sun for a few days and I finally decided it was best to take pictures inside under the grow light in the sewing room.

Placemat
I finished up all six of the place mats that I started last year and found again when I cleaned out the craft room. I originally had planned to make them as a gift, but now that they are done I realize that they do look pretty nice with my Christmas dishes… The pattern is one that my aunt made for me years ago and no one in the family now knows the original source. 
Pur;ple MItts
Remember these purple Sugared Maple mitts (by Melissa Schaschwary) that I had just started in the Mitt Madness post? 
Purple Fingerless Mitts
They are done! OK, I am still in the grip of mitt madness:  I made them a pair of friends that coordinate in a matching handpaint. These guys are joining the Christmas Makes pile as they are presents for sure. The yarn is Zen Yarn Garden Serenity DK which has 10% cashmere and is big on the yummy scale. Here are the notes on Ravelry.
Start of Red Mitts
I can’t help it. I have one more skein of the Serenity DK in this red mix, so I just cast on ANOTHER pair. 🙂 See how the edge looks a little rounded? The CO for this pattern is one that I had to learn using an online tutorial (by Isolda Teague) called long-tail tubular cast on. It is crazy to learn, but nice and stretchy and allows the mitt cuffs to be knit on size 3 (3.25mm) needles while the body of the mitt is done with size 5 (3.75mm) needles. Now that I understand it I may make it my go-to ribbing CO.
Yarn
Here are the 4 original skeins of the Serenity DK that became a collection of Sugared Maple mitts. I couldn’t help myself; it’s kind of a study in color and texture as I made each of the mitts. It’s madness, I tell you, Mitt Madness. I highly recommend this pattern if you a feeling a similar urge to produce mitts. I think that I have enough yarn left in each color to make one more (shorter) pair of mitts to add to the mitt bin for sale/gift down the road. I mean, look at those colors. How can I not keep turning out mitts with this yarn??
Mitts on the needle
As if the Sugared Maple mitts weren’t enough I also started another pair of mitts like the ones I made for my sister with the thumbs moved underneath. I wanted to see what the design would look like with a wider rib at the top and the bottom of the mitt. I kind of like it, but I wonder if I should try the long-tail tubular cast on in this K2,P2 rib… The yarn is Malabrigo Rios from the stash. I love my stash!! It is a source of instant gratification when these mitt making urges hit me.

It is still snowing here and won’t get above freezing until sometime next week. Guess you all know what I’ll be doing…

 

 

Mitt Madness

My son has a beautiful Maine Coon tuxedo cat. The family joke is that she controls the weather.

Maya
Here she is, Maya Isabella the Weather Queen. She actually considers herself a princess and demands regular attention from her main subject, my son. Kitty treats now! Come run my drinking water for me! Come pet me now!! Time for me to go outside to catch bugs!! She also takes instant ownership of any knitting left unattended…
Snowy yard
Bless her heart. Tuesday she sent me a blizzard, the first official blizzard in the Denver area in several years. The wind howled and shook the house overnight and this is what the backyard looked like in the morning. My cats were not amused. I should note that there was almost no snow at Maya’s house!

The cold weather and previous snow storms had already launched me into some serious mitt knitting, but this week’s storm really pushed me into mitt knitting overdrive.  Here’s what happened during this week:

Mitts
I actually finished these mitts before the big snowstorm and took the picture as the first little pellets of snow arrived. These are Sugared Maple MItts (designed by Melissa Schaschwary) knitted in Zen Yarn Garden Serenity DK. Love the cashmere!! The knitted texture was really easy to knit and kind of reminds me of the waffle pattern in Henley shirts. These are really comfy mitts. If you yearn for more details here are my notes on Ravelry.
Pur;ple MItts
The first mitts were so much fun to knit and wear I just cast on and started another pair. This is Zen Yarn Garden Serenity DK again, and the purple is actually as intense as in the photo. I have a cousin who can’t get enough purple so I already know where these are going when they are done.
Mitts with Cable on Top
My sister let me know that the mitts I gave her for her birthday last year were flawed: the cable just didn’t stay parked on top of her hand the way they should. My first impulse was to tell her to stop being so persnickety, but upon reflection I decided that she may have a point.  I made some changes to my generic rib and cable mitt pattern that would allow me to make her mitts that have the thumb moved over to place it under the index finger.
Underneath of MItt
Here’s the palm view of the mitts. The gusset has been moved over 4 stitches and starts at the wrist. I’m hoping that if her thumb can move without tugging on the body of the mitt the cable will behave itself. This yarn is Malabrigo Rios which is one of my favorite hand-painted superwash wools. I wrote notes to myself about what I had done and they are here on Ravelry.

I’m still not completely happy with the new mitt design. What would happen if I added more ribbing at the top and bottom of the mitt? What if I changed to a smaller needle to do that ribbing at the top? Should I make the top so long it can be folded back in a little cuff? Hmmm… I have more Rios to play with (well, duh! Yarn Stash Queen here!!) and I’m itching to CO and get started on another pair. I have some more Zen Yarn Garden that wants to be mitts, too. I try to not overthink this compulsion to create mitts. I just knit them up and put the little guys into my mitt bin where they can all hang out together and pretend to be the ultimate cool knitted items.

Box of MItts
My box of mitts: last Saturday I took the bin to my scleroderma support group meeting and gave away or sold 11 pairs! I’ll be taking the bin back to the next meeting as several people thought they might want more pairs for Christmas presents. During the week I handed out business cards to more customers who admired the mitts I was wearing and asked how they could get a pair.

Looks like things are picking up in the mitt business. All of a sudden mitts ARE the ultimate cool knitted item. Must be all the snow; it is snowing again this evening and there is ANOTHER snowstorm predicted for Thanksgiving.

Thanks Maya!

Maybe I should knit her a little something too.

Rocking the Craft Room

This is all Sharon’s fault! I’m referring to Sharon of Creativity and Family. Yesterday I woke up to find that she had posted a long, chatty list of all of her WIPs and projects for the coming winter months. Oh, my goodness! The woman has big dreams and a diverse (and endless) number of projects all lined up. She quilts, knits, crochets, sews, is doing something mysterious with scrabble pieces, and even makes her own yarn from tee-shirts. If you don’t already follow her you should check out her post.

The other thing that I discovered when I woke up was that my wrists, ankles and knees hurt. Like the tendons. Like there is no way that I am going to be knitting anytime in the near future.

This is so not fair! I am just entering the final pattern section and bind-off of the Drachenfels. One more day (or two) and it would be done. I want it, I want it, I want it now!!!  <snif>

Whatever. It’s getting warm again outside and I won’t be wearing a shawl for the next 10 days or so. Lots of time to get it finished. What I decided to do was to channel Sharon, go play in the craft room and shop the stash. If I can’t actually knit, I certainly can organize things, match patterns to yarn/projects and try to create a queue of my future crafting for the coming cold weather months. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

Storage
I already had yarn organized into types and weight. I just had to start pulling out yarn and reorganizing it in the bins with the patterns for my coming projects into some of my spare bins.

I pulled out several boxes of yarn into the main craft room and then discovered that it hurt my wrists to snap open and shut the latches on the boxes. Well, isn’t that special! Lucky for me I’m an old pro with wrist tendinitis. Years ago I had carpal tunnel surgery and spent months in braces. For a few years after that I still wore my braces when doing wrist challenging activities like moving books in my classroom or organizing boxes in the garage. I had to go on a hunt to find them, but eventually my wrist braces were located in a drawer of my desk in the office. I just needed to create some padding to go under them because I have edema in my arms these days (thank you scleroderma!!)

Socks
Well, look at these incredibly ugly hospital socks I got during my last health adventure. Just the ticket.
cutting off the toes of socks
I cut off the toes…
Thumb hole
Cut a slit in the side to make an opening for my thumb…
sock mitts
and I had the perfect padding mitts to go under the braces. 🙂
 Wrist braces
Add the braces and I attackd the bins! These braces look awful but as soon as they are on my wrist feels wonderful. I think I may sleep in them tonight.
Knitting projects
Here is the finished stack of knitting projects. Good grief!!

This was just fun to do. I moved yarn around and got things reorganized to create the project bins. I copied patterns from books and magazines with my printer/scanner so that I could slip the pattern into the bin with the yarn. The big bins contain the yarn and patterns for two sweaters, and the smaller bins have 1-3 projects each. I sat down (on the floor!) with my stack of boxes and the laptop computer and then entered everything into Ravelry to create this queue. In addition to the two sweaters I have 5 shawls, 2 long mitts, 3 socks and 2 hats. I thought about trying to put everything into the actual order that I will do the projects, but that is just crazy thinking. At least I have things into the queue and can move items around as I actually get started. Check out my queue if you want to see what I have lined up. 🙂

Since I was working in the craft room with the sewing machine it was a little hard to ignore the stack of projects on the shelf next to it. I pulled them down and discovered more to do. I had actually forgotten some of this…

Autumn Quilt
Look! This is an autumn themed quilt that I started a year ago and never finished. I just need to get the batting, sandwich the layers and then do the quilting. I’m not showing the whole thing now because… reasons. If I hurry it will be done before Thanksgiving! Stay tuned.
stuff
This is a special edition Colorado themed batik that I bought to sew a Professional Tote Bag with compartments and all the room I need to drag around knitting. The pink fabric and the blue with the small dots to the left is for the linings.
stuff
Unfinished Christmas place mats. I just have to do the quilting and put on the edging. These guys need to get done!!
and last but not least I had decided to make everyone new dishtowels this year
While I’m talking about Christmas, I also organized this idea for Christmas dishtowels. A few years ago I made everyone towels in a plaid design. When I got to the end of the warp I made this scrap with a natural colored weft. I kind of like it, and am thinking that if I get the warp back onto the loom it will make fast towels to give everyone with some of the other things I have planned.

Well, that’s it for now. I have organized and pulled to the front of the pile lots of projects and ideas. I’ve been wearing the braces for two days and my wrists are feeling better. I think that if I protect and rest them for another couple of days I will be good to go with the Drachenfels and hopefully it will be done by the end of next week.

If not I guess I’ll keep the braces on and get the garage cleaned out!

Have a great weekend everyone.

The Golden Hour

It’s here! It’s here! The most wonderful time of the autoimmune disease year. Fall colors, cooler (but not cold) temperatures, sunshine levels that won’t make me sick, pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, and wood smoke. Pumpkins and autumn squash soup. New yarns at the yarn store and patterns for warm sweaters. Ugg boots!! Without fail I have a surge of joy and energy at this time of year. Just like the golden hour in photography, that time in the evening when everything is softened and has a glow of light to it, this is my golden hour of the year.

Sunset
Look at this sunset! I took the picture while sitting at the stoplight. Doesn’t it make you happy? The golden hour is the hour before this as the sun was just dipping down towards the mountains in the west. Here is Colorado it makes the Rocky Mountains look softer and plush; there are sunbeams and everything looks wonderful.

What’s wrong with the rest of the year you ask? Well, let me tell you: winter is a beautiful time of year, but for a person with systemic sclerosis and Raynaud’s disease, it is a miserable battle to keep extremities warm an opportunity to rock the wool socks, shawls and fingerless mitts. This year I plan to roll out some exceptionally warm longish sweaters; I have the yarn all ready to go. I have patterns for fingerless mitts that will go up to my elbows. I bought fleece Cuddle Duds. I am really going to try to handle the cold better this year; last year I rolled out of winter with more severe symptoms than I had in the fall.

Rose
Look how great this rose looked last spring. It should be a wonderful time of year for me, but…

Spring is a time of gardening, hope and struggle for me as I try to get the garden’s flowers (and roses!!) going while slowly accepting that new debilitating symptoms that I thought were related to the war against cold, but which remained in the balmy days of April and May, were actually real things. Darn! No wool sock or hand warmer will fix my problems… by the time I make appointments or call for help it is already summer.

Ugh! Summer! I was a teacher, and summer was that wonderful time of renewal and rebuilding that kept me going year after year. Now summers are so fraught that they seem to pass in a blur of lawn watering and visits to Kaiser. Really, I am just a mess all summer long. Here’s the highlights of this year:

  • Summer started with me just a few weeks into the drug methotrexate (which I got after making a call for help in early May…) I was losing hair and taking it easy two days a week because of the drug’s side effects. Still, by juggling the drug schedule I was able to work a summer camp teaching kids how to spin and felt fiber. So fun. The camp was only 2.5 hours a day so it was perfect.
  • In July I developed rare bone complications from the drug (well, don’t I feel special!) and ended up at an acute diagnostic facility. That was the end of the methotrexate.
  • Icky symptoms reappeared with a vengeance. I had to wait a few weeks before I could start the new drug. It’s called purgatory drug holiday .
  • UTI strikes. Seriously!! Antibiotics, barfing and yogurt happened.
  • Rheumatology appointment: he starts me on CellCept with some reservations about whether my gut (which basically hates me…) can handle it.
  • I start the pills.  Woohoo! No problems except after two days…
  • …UTI strikes again. Oops! I stopped the CellCept, gobbled antibiotics and yogurt, and skipped the barfing. Take that you ill-behaved gut!!
  • Started CellCept again the next week. Hello heartburn, my old friend.  Middle of the night vomiting and belly pain?  Nope, nope, nope. My gut has definitely vetoed this drug! I didn’t even make it a week before I emailed my rheumatologist to ask for something else from the land of pharmacological wonders.
  • Well, what do you know. There is another version of the CellCept that is a time release version that I should be able to stomach (see what I did there?). My rheumatologist and I had an email chat and he ordered it up for me.
  • …and the insurance declined to approve it. What?!! I wanted to send my gut on over to have a chat with them. Two visits to the pharmacy, two phone calls and an invocation of the gastroenterologist did the trick. I scored the pills on the last Friday in September. Yep. That was the end of summer and it is now time for the golden hour.

I started the time-released version of CellCept 10 days ago. You know, I think that I feel better already. My knees have stopped hurting! I seem to have more energy. I think that there is less edema in my arms. I have started cleaning out cupboards and stuff. I am happy.

Maple leaves
Look at these leaves! This is the maple tree in my back yard.

This is my year of systemic sclerosis (scleroderma): cold, pain, hope, struggle, persistence, and wonder. And this, my friends, is the best part of the whole dang year. I am full of joy with every red leaf and pumpkin that I see. I know that the snow is coming, but what the heck.

Today, today I am in the golden hour.

Knitting in the garden

Yesterday was a quiet day for me; I was recovering from the long days in the heat at the alpaca ranch last weekend and had entered basic slug mode. What could be better than to take some finishing tasks out to the garden swing to finish off. 🙂

Mitts without thumbs
Why do I keep doing this? I have 5 pairs of mitts all ready to go except… the thumbs need to be finished. Ugh. Basic boring knitting. Here’s the project page for these mitts at Ravelry that also has the pattern written out in the project notes. 

Luckily it was a nice day. All my flowers in pots continue to bloom like champions. Both cats moved out to hang with me. I started the sprinkler on the lawn which always draws birds. There was a lot of wildlife that stopped by to entertain me. OK, since I was bored I snapped some shots. Here they are!

Spider
This orb weaver spider had set up shop between two of my trees! I really like these spiders with their huge elaborate webs and insect catching habits. I had one on the deck last year that spun her web every evening and then took it down in the morning. OK, I’m a geek, but I was a biology teacher so what did you expect?
Squirrel
I ate some pumpkin spice mini-muffins with my latte while I was knitting. This squirrel started barking at me from a branch above the garden swing. I guess he felt that he was entitled to the muffins too!
Cat
Yellow Boy was snoozing in the garden swing with me. When the squirrel came down the tree trunk he finally chased it off. Sometimes he can be brave.
Buterfly
I haven’t seen many of these lately but as the morning warmed up more a Swallowtail stopped by the lantana. I love these guys. Luckily Yellow Boy was busy with the squirrel and left this one alone.

By noon is was getting too hot to stay outside. My mitts were done and the wildlife was disappearing. The cats and I headed inside.

Woohoo! Time to knit the Drachenfels shawl. I’m making progress on it and hope to show it off at the end of the week.

Have a good week everyone.

First Week in September: Three Bowls, Three Mitts, and a Reyna Shawl

I am knitting and crafting like crazy. Actually I’m enjoying the balmy weather of summer’s end and I’m a little nuts because I just can’t seem to get everything done. The flowers on my deck are at their best. The crickets are chirping. The temperature outside is just about perfect and I am spending my time clicking knitting needles and feeling a little less than my normal cheerful self (more about that below). Still I am making progress and the setting is just about perfect. This afternoon I decided to set up the laptop on my backyard deck and let you all know what I’ve been up to. Here it is.

My sister’s birthday was the 5th of September. I bought her a card a couple of weeks ago and I sat down and got these bowls done in plenty of time to send to her. Here the are!

Fabric bowls
A set of fabric bowls. Bet she never saw this coming! She does sew a lot and I thought that she might find these useful in her crafting area or maybe on her desk. I found the pattern online at Quilter in Motion.
Fabric Bowl
I just love the fabric! This is a Laurel Burch pattern that I found last year.

I still haven’t mailed them off to my sister. They are now days overdue but I do have an excuse (OK, it’s pathetic, but still… It’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!). My rheumatologist started me on a new medication for my systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) called CellCept, and it just doesn’t like me. Every part of my digestive system hurts!! Boo! Today I got up and decided that I am done with heartburn (not to mention middle of the night barfing) and e-mailed my doc to ask for something else from the land of pharmacological wonders. This morning I didn’t take my pill and this afternoon I plan to make the trip to the post office. Hang on sis! They really are coming…

Now the knitting makes sense, doesn’t it. No matter how upset my digestive system is I still manage to eat (yogurt is my friend) and knit. Lots of knitting has been going on. I dug in this last week and worked like crazy on the mitts that I am designing for Alta Vida Alpacas for Alpaca Farm Days which happens later on this month. They plan to sell kits of yarn with the pattern to visitors to the farm. I’ve been trying to make simple patterns that show off the yarn. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Mitts
This yarn is sportweight, 50% cotton (which gives it some slubs and texture), 25% wool and 25% alpaca (yum!). The yarn knits up great, feels light on your hands but is also soft, comfy and warm. I wanted them to look easy to knit (hello… trying to sell some kits here!!) but appealing. Please lay on the feedback people!

Like those colors? This is Colorado (AKA Broncos  Country) and the football season starts this coming week. Yeah Broncos!! The thumb on the stripped mitt is a little different from the usual shape that I favor and I’m still thinking of knitting a stripped version with slower increases. The thumb on the solid mitts is more like what I like to knit and wear. It fits your hand with no pull across the hand and the ribbing on the top of the thumb is loose enough to allow you to wear the mitts over gloves. (Reynaud’s makes you think about things like that!) Be honest here: does that stripped thumb look goofy? Should I change it?

Beaded Mitt
Beads! This is the same yarn in a version with some fun and glitz. The picot CO was new to me. Here’s the link to an online tutorial that does it the same way that I did. 🙂

So the knitting continues. I want to make the mate for the beaded mitt before the end of the week, and then will do a pair of stripped mitts with a more gradual thumb increase in blue and off-white. Next I have to write the patterns, but I’ve kept lots (and lots!) of notes while I knitted so I am feeling pretty positive about that next step.

Finally, I’m making some steady progress on the only knitting project that is just for me. Check out the Reyna shawl that is finally getting towards the end of it’s knitting journey.

Reyna Shawl
I’m finally on the last section of mesh lace. I’m pretty nervous about the size of the ball of yarn; it’s clear that there isn’t enough to finish the shawl as the pattern is written.  I’m weighing that ball fairly often so I can figure out when I need to stop knitting lace and switch over to the last garter rows and the BO. I’m giving myself about 7 grams to get the job done. 
Knitting
Here’s a close-up of the pattern. I learned some new things as I knitted this shawl. The YO’s in the garter section are hidden by knitting in the back loops on the wrong side rows.  Who knew that was a thing? I’m liking how it looks, however, Here are my project notes on Ravelry.

That’s the week. I’ve been reading a lot too, but I think that should wait for another post. And the flowers that I’ve got blooming on my deck are so fabulous they are crying for a post of their own…

Hope you all had a great week (and no barfing!!).