2019 Challenges: Crushed Them!

The end of the year is in sight.  I have books that aren’t finished and some projects that still aren’t done, but I’m good with my progress on the three challenges that I set for myself this year. There were three big ones: removing skeins of yarn from my enormous yarn stash, completing and logging knitted projects on Ravelry, and finishing books that I logged on my page at Goodreads. I did really well this year! Here’s the numbers.

Knitting

I set a goal of 30 projects for myself in the Challenge at Ravelry. This was 5 more than last year, and I managed 25 projects the year before, so I was comfortable with the number. Since I was focusing on using up yarn in the stash I really was responsible about logging each project and recording the yarn used and the amounts as best I could. I got lots of things done this year: lots of socks, mitts, sweaters, and some odd items along the way.

Seven sweaters jumped off my needles this year, all of them huge successes; comfy and a joy to wear. Here are some of them (Clockwise from the upper left): Koivua (Caitlin Hunter), Nordiska (Caitlin Hunter), Sturgill (Caitlin Hunter), Daelyn (Isabell Kraemer), and Understated (Joji Locatelli).
I made lots of shawls, socks, fingerless mitts, and even some gnomes this Christmas. The shawl shown here is What the Fade?! by Andrea Mowry and the gnomes are Here We Gnome Again by Sarah Schira.

There were lots of other projects that came off my needles; too many to show here. MacKenzie got a mouse and a blanket. I made cowls, dishcloths, and some thrummed mittens. It was a great year! As of tonight I have completed 48 projects, and the number is actually more as I combined some little projects together in the same Ravelry project page. Knitting goal crushed!

Yarn Destash

I resolved in January to get at least 50 skeins of yarn out of the yarn stash. At my high point in December I had gotten out 75 skeins, but a little trip to my favorite yarn store saw me buying 4 skeins of my most favorite color mohair, more yarn for the cat that I am knitting, and some yarn that I felt I had to grab when I saw it. Nine more skeins walked out of the store with me that day. Whatever. When you deduct the yarn from my total I still got 66 skeins of yarn out of the stash this year. Yarn destash goal crushed!!

Yarn stash.
Not to worry; I still have lots of yarn where those skeins came from in the stash!

Books

Lots of reading happened this year. I began to listen to audiobooks while knitting and once that happened the book count steadily climbed through the year. I set myself a goal of 50 books at Goodreads; as of tonight I have finished 65 books this year. Reading goal crushed!!

I tried to pick my favorite books from the list, but that was too hard. So many 5 star books! Here are some of the ones that really made an impression on me:

Some of my favorites:
    • Where the Crawdads Sing is a magical tale of an isolated young woman, abandoned as a child by almost everyone who should have cared for her, who grows to become a gifted naturalist in her own right. Living with nature in a coastal marsh area, guided by her understanding of the biological systems in the ecosystem around her, she becomes the focus of a murder investigation. Is she the victim of prejudice? Did she do it? Was there actually a crime? You will have to read the book for yourself!
    • Blowout speaks for itself in the title. Hey, I live in Colorado. Oil money is big here, the risks to the population are real, and I remember when we had earthquakes from the fracking operations. Nowadays there is a battle to control how close drilling can be to human habitation in this state; there are a lot of jobs involved, but there was that home that exploded in Firestone, Colorado… Did you know that an early fracking operation in Colorado involved a nuclear explosive that was detonated underground? Yeah. I highly recommend this book.
    • Childen of Ruin speaks to one of my pet peeves in science fiction writing. Why do we always depict aliens as being like us? You know, bipeds who speak and have hands. Beings that think like us. Why should that be? This book goes there using models of intelligence found right here on earth. Octopuses are way smart, but their method of information processing is very different from our own, and they use visual cues in their communication. Portia spiders have object permanence and are canny predators who use a model of problem solving that is formidable and different from our own. Slime molds get together from time to time and act like a multicellular organism… how do they coordinate that trick? Bacteria have more genes in their population than any one member can store; learning is fluid and travels through the population as members swap genes with each other. This book made me think about all these models of intelligence and made me look at my plants and animals with new eyes. One of my jade plants had a slime mold last summer and I put it right outside… best to be safe!
    • The Night Tiger was a huge gift to me. Magic. Dreams. The interface between the spirit world and our own. Tigers who become people, or is it the other way around? It was just a fun, wonderful read with a strong female character in the lead. I loved it.
    • There were so many other 5 stars in my list, but I can’t write about then all. Here’s a list: Ninth House, The Night Fire, The Testaments, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, The Guest Book , The Clockmaker’s Daughter, and The Alice Network all made the list.

So that’s that. I made it through all of my resolved goals and I’m now thinking about new ones. It’s time to take out the spinning wheel and the loom, don’t you think? That, however, will be another post.

MacKenzie Speaks: So This Was Christmas… A Tale of Chaos and Knitted Gifts

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Here I am spending Christmas Eve at the Emergency Vet Clinic

I haven’t been feeling all that well for awhile. To be fair, the Mother of Cats has been spending a lot of time trying to be nice to me. She gets me special food. She washes my ears every day before I get my medicine. She has gotten more blankets and beds for me to sleep in.

My favorite is the fluffy fleecy locks that she has added to my favorite cat bed that is located right next to her knitting spot.

Things just aren’t going well for me right now, and Monday was the worst. I couldn’t use my cat box no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t walk right. I kept vomiting and it hurt so bad I couldn’t help myself… some horrible yowls came out before I could stop them. It was really late at night but the Mother of Cats threw me into my cat carrier and off to the Kitty ER we went. The radio played some Christmas music as we drove through the night. Thankfully the streets were dry and we made good time.

Once I got to the ER I got a nice pink towel to make me feel calm and I met a  nice lady vet who said that my tummy was really hard and tight. NO KIDDING!!! Then the fun started. I got whisked away from the Mother of Cats and taken back into the bowels of the clinic. They put me to sleep so I could have x-rays. They did nasty things to my bottom and gave me an enema. They cut off all of my nails!!! Christmas Eve arrived while I was being taken to the x-ray machine. Hours later they sent me home again with new drugs, special food, and a very sore bottom. WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN TO ME?

I was so tired that I didn’t move off the Mother of Cats’ bed all day Christmas and didn’t even use the cat box once.

Hamster ignoring cat and eating a carrot.
Do you remember that I have a mouse of my very own call Pitty-Pat? (I know she really is a hamster, but I like to think of her as a mouse. She’s mine, and I’m calling her a mouse!!)

While I was getting the luxury spa treatment at the Kitty ER (NOT!!) Little Miss Pitty-Pat escaped from her cage and went on an adventure exploring the house. She dragged piles of my cat food into her cage! She took some of my wooly fleece out of my cat bed and put it into her bed in the cage. She slept in her cage Christmas Day so the Mother of Cats thought I was eating lots of the new food and never suspected what was up. Poor Mother of Cats. She tries hard but we really are too much for her.

At 2am in the morning on the day after Christmas I noticed Pitty-Pat running around on the floor of the bedroom. The Mother of Cats woke up when I ran over her to get to Pitty-Pat. Pitty-Pat ran behind the dresser and holed up underneath. The Mother of Cats just ignored me, sprang into action, and began building a barricade of blankets, pillows and furniture to keep Pitty-Pat trapped in that corner of the room. She just acted like I wasn’t there!! Fine, I didn’t want to play with Pitty-Pat anyway since I feel pretty darn TERRIBLE  and my bottom hurts! I gave up and went to sleep in the sewing room while the Mother of Cats moved furniture, trapped Pitty-Pat, repaired her cage, and finally calmed down enough to go back to sleep. It was 4am by that time and I was ready to move back into the big bedroom anyway. The down comforter on that bed is my favorite!

The next day the Mother of Cats shoved ANOTHER pill down my throat and I finally began using my cat box again. I now feel a little better, but I have to eat food that I don’t like, and the Mother of Cats keeps putting more medicine on my ears. The vet has called twice since my visit to the ER and I couldn’t help hearing that I need to come back in a few weeks to get more testing. What a yucky Christmas I am having here! Pitty-Pat seems to be having a really nice one, however…

Enough about me. I bet that you want to see the Christmas knitting, don’t you. Here it is!

The Mother of Cats and I made these fabulous Christmas Gnomes. Just perfect for cat toys, don’t you think?
We also whipped out these wristers to wear on cool days alone or on really cold days under the sleeve of a sweater. I really liked this cashmere mix yarn; almost as nice as the fleece in my cat bed.
We also made a set of fleece-stuffed pincushions for the Mother of Cat’s cousin made from yarn that came from her trip to Peru.

That’s it. Not that much knitting happened this Christmas unless you want to include the knitted Cat that the Mother of Cats and I are still working on. It looks a little wonky right now, but we are going to work on it this weekend and hopefully it will be done by the end of the year. I can’t wait to write a post showing it off to all of you.

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have something nice to eat instead of the yucky new food?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • Those excessively cute Gnomes are the pattern “Here We Gnome Again” by Sarah Schira.
  • The wristers are a mash-up pattern that I put together this fall. I recorded what I did in the notes on my Ravelry project page.
  • The pincushions are made with yarn that my cousin got on her trip to Peru this fall along with some Peruvian yarn that I had in the stash. The pattern is Chloe’s Cushions by Yamagara and is free.
  • MacKenzie is struggling with several medical issues at the moment. He is being treated for hyperthyroidism and developed severe constipation; who knew this is a medical emergency in cats? The x-rays and exam revealed several other problems including kidney disease, stones in his bladder, arthritis, and an enlarged spleen. There is some concern that he has cancer, but we are spending the next month working on the issues that can be treated right now with medications (the bladder stones, constipation, and hyperthyroidism), and after seeing where we following an ultrasound next month the vet and I will decide next steps.
  • The new food is supposed to dissolve the stones in MacKenzie’s bladder.
  • The medicine that I smooth onto the insides of MacKenzie’s ears is for the hyperthyroidism.
  • What was the pill that I had to shove down MacKenzie’s throat you ask? A stool softener, of course. It worked!!
  • I got a weighted blanket for Christmas and MacKenzie has taken it over as his own. Of course. It’s like getting hugged while you sleep. If ever there was a kitty who deserved some hugs, it’s this guy.

MacKenzie Speaks: All the Little Things

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

I’ve been taking a nap in the sewing room while the Mother of Cats finishes up all of her morning chores.

The Mother of Cats has been going crazy for days now. She knits and sews and fusses over little projects endlessly! It has to do with Christmas, which is strange since she hasn’t put up the Christmas tree yet. I love the Christmas tree: best cat toy ever!! I worry about the Mother of Cats. She has so many projects cast on at the moment the coffee table in the family room is buried. There are project bags in the bed. She left knitting needles on the table where my cookies are supposed to be. She has quilting stuff all over the craft room. SHE IS OUT OF CONTROL!!!

There is a lot going on, and she can’t show off all of it because… Christmas… but here are some of the little projects in progress:

This is going to be a gnome that will be going on our fireplace mantel.
This little chunk of knitted wonder is going to be a pincushion. She is kind of mass producing these little gems. If she filled the pouch with catnip it would actually be useful…
She has also made a bunch of these little wristers, too. They all are very soft and I love to sleep with them. Is she making them to give to me? No! SHE IS NOT!! What is wrong with the Mother of Cats?
She is keeping this cowl in a plastic bag so I can’t drag it into my cat bed. I am shocked that she has resorted to this! The Mother of Cats needs to rethink her priorities. Cowls are for cats, right?!!

The good news is that since the Mother of Cats is knitting so much I am getting lots of attention and naps right by her side. She lets me have a cookie every once in a while, but mostly I am getting lots of wet food meals and she lets me eat whatever I want! Tuna! Liver! Stinky shrimp and fish!! I want it all and she gives me a fresh can twice a day. Maybe the Mother of Cats does pay attention to my needs after all.

She also puts medicine on my ear twice a day, but I kind of like the attention so that is okay.

I’m such  good boy.

Can I have some (not crushed) cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

I am in full production mode now as the holidays are closing down on me. I’m listening to books on tape, binge watching Netflix and mass producing little knitted and sewn items. I’m having fun and the little items are just jumping off my needles now. Here are the patterns:

  • The Gnome is Here We Gnome Again by Sarah Schira
  • The pincushions are from the pattern Chloe’s Cushions by Yamagara.   This is a free pattern, is so fun to knit, and there are three different cushions: must knit faster!!
  • The cowl is Mount Moran Lace Cowl by Selena Miskin. MacKenzie is a fan of the silk/mohair and yak yarns so I do have to keep it bagged!
  • I’m refining the wrister pattern as I work; I’m now on the 4th version of my pattern. I’m thinking that another free pattern is coming your way. I’m making all of them in cashmere blend superwash merino fingering and they are heaven to wear under the cuffs of sweaters! The cashmere is why MacKenzie likes them so much. He’s a cat who knows what he likes!!
  • I still haven’t tried to figure out how to put patterns on Ravelry. Maybe when I get the Christmas gifts into the mail.
  • Did I mention that I have some sewing to get done too? Busy days!!
  • Did MacKenzie mention how much he likes to wear his antler hat?