MacKenzie Speaks: The Tale of the Turkish Hell Socks

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat face
I know that it has been a long time. I hope that you haven’t been missing me.

The Mother of Cats has been a severe disappointment for just weeks and weeks. She caught some kind of cold early in December, carried on like a baby for over a week (nasal spray, salt water gargling, boxes of tissues… Yellow Boy and I became quite concerned about her mental health…) and COMPLETELY ignored our needs. As if that wasn’t enough, when she finally got over the virus, she then became even worse. She slept for hours and hours, stayed in her bed even when she was awake, and totally failed to deliver our cookies on time. SHE DIDN’T EVEN DO CHRISTMAS!!! which is totally our favorite time of the year. Hello… Christmas trees = world’s best cat toys. How could she have failed us this way?

She said she was in a flare. Whatever.

When she was awake she worked endlessly on these socks for her cousin’s Christmas present.

Yarn Blank
The yarn for the socks was from this sock blank that she bought at a yarn festival. She made it into a ball and wouldn’t let me help even a little bit.
Knitting
She wanted to make these complicated socks for her cousin. This cousin is special… they were born two days apart and are kind of like displaced twins. This cousin once gave her a whole quilt for a present. The least she could do was to make these socks! She started knitting the first week of December. Lots of time. I looked forward to days of great knitting together.
Cat
But she was too tired to knit very long on them at a time, and can I be frank, she was pretty stupid with brain fog. Lots of mistakes. Lots of stress. She kept chasing me away while I was helping. She tried to knit in bed, which is MY place. So I ate the yarn a couple of time. If she gave me cookies in a timely manner these things wouldn’t happen.
Heel of the sock.
Her lack of energy and general stupidness was really obvious when she knitted the heels. It took her THREE HOURS to pick up those stitches to knit the afterthought heel. She started sighing and pushing me off the bed. She began to refer to the knitting project as the Turkish socks from hell. The Mother of Cats was really in trouble.
Cat and knitting.
I just kept on encouraging her. I purred a lot. I settled for fewer cookies. I even stopped eating the yarn. She was really in pitiful shape.
Unfinished socks.
By Christmas Day she had finished this much. Her cousin reminded her that Christmas continues until January 6th.
Finished socks.
Finally, finally they were done!
Finished socks.
Those horrid and ill behaved heels look pretty good, don’t they?

The Turkish Hell socks were packed up last week and mailed out. On Saturday, the last day of Christmas they arrived safely in their new home. They had better behave themselves and last for years and years; I would hate to travel all the way across the state to whack them into shape!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

These socks, called Classic Kilim, are from the book Around the World in Knitted Socks by Stephanie van der Linden. The socks were supposed to have tassels and embroidery; that so did not happen!!Here is the info on Ravelry with more info about the book. My notes on Ravelry are here.

On December 1st I got my pneumonia vaccine even though I had been struggling a little that week. That night my youngest son became ill with complications of diabetes and was rushed to the ER . I spent the next 2 days/nights at the ICU with him. Yep. About the time my son returned to work and I moved back home I was sick;  my autoimmune diseases flared while I was fighting through the viral illness. My Sjogren’s symptoms have been off the chart and crushing fatigue and brain fog appeared along with them. This week I am better and have been knitting up a storm and planning blog posts. Hopefully I’ll be online again in a couple of more days.

Happy New Year everyone!

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When the going gets tough, the tough get… knitting!

This is it. I’m pretty sure that I am back. Right after Christmas I got sick with the flu, one thing led to another, and I was taken off the drugs that I take to treat my systemic sclerosis (scleroderma). Yep. My autoimmune condition flared of course. Two weeks ago I was finally cleared to start my immunosuppressant drugs again.

Hello energy! Wow. This week a surge of creativity arrived. I was up and pulling together projects right and left while cleaning house (and putting away the Christmas decorations). About freaking time, huh. My poor yarn stash had started to despair. The loom was considering contacting an adoption agency (that darn spinning wheel put it up to it. He has always been a trouble maker…). Even the car was becoming depressed.

My energy level has come up just in time. Three weeks ago my internist sat down with me and gave me some bad news: I have developed symptoms that suggest that my lungs are now under attack and becoming scarred. I kind of expected it as I have been having shortness of breath episodes, but still it isn’t a good development. I made an appointment with the rheumatologist. Yesterday I saw him, he decided to increase my drug dosage, and he also ordered lung testing for next week. When I came out the door from the clinic the wind was blowing, the sun was shining, and I was happy to be alive. No matter what happens next week, this week I am full of energy and feeling pretty good. Got to love these drugs!!

So I decided to not go right home. I went shopping!! Hello! The rheumatologist is located in a city north of Denver near a major yarn store, Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins in Boulder, Colorado. I have needs. The loom is making threats…

Home woven dishtowels
At Christmas my cousin admired my dishtowels. I want a couple more of the white/color checked towels, and she wants the towels with no white. Time to warp the loom, but I am out of the white and light blue cotton. There. That is a good enough reason to go to the yarn (and weaving) store. 🙂

I found the cotton that I needed pretty quickly. As I tried to walk to the checkout counter I happened to see the Dream Club kits…

January Dream Club
The January Dream Club kit had this dreamy cashmere blend fingering yarn and a pattern to make cute mitts and a head scarf. The pattern is called Blue Jean Boheme (by Kalurah Hudson) and while I’m not wild about the scarf, I really like the mitts. I bet I can get two pairs of mitts out of this yarn. Maybe a pair of mitts and a pair of bed socks…

While I was thinking about the bed socks the happy colors of the February Dream Club kit jumped out at me.

February Dream Club
Cashmere blend slippers in the happiest colors ever! This is the February Dream Club kit and the pattern that comes with it is called Pleasant Pheasant Slippers by Lara Neel. Say that fast three times! The yarn is worsted weight and called Classy with Cashmere.

I don’t know how those kits jumped into my arms. It just happened. Clutching the cones of cotton for the dishtowels and the bagged kits I managed to get up to the check out counter and found…

Isn't that the truth!
Isn’t that the truth!

Okay, I did find some more yarn to add to the pile, but I’m going to save it for a future post. I piled back into the car with all of my happy finds and headed south back towards home through some of the strongest wind in recent memory. Seriously, I was dodging tumbleweeds (while on an elevated overpass!) and playing chicken with wobbly tractor trailer trucks as I raced along through clouds of dust and howling 60 mph wind. It perfectly matched my mood of recklessly joyous living.

My last stop on the way home was at a jewelry store where I bought a new teal colored bead for my Pandora bracelet.

Bracelet
Teal is the color for scleroderma awareness ribbons. This is my own personal “Be Brave” bracelet.

I am rocking the knitting tonight wearing my bracelet. This weekend I will get the warp wound for the dishtowels and the loom will get warped up early next week. You know I’ll be wearing the bracelet when I go for the pulmonary function testing next week.

I am tough. I knit!!

Bad Start, 2016 (but I made a great sweater anyway. Ha!)

I know that I kind of did this to myself. I was really pushing things as I got everything baked, stitched, knitted, wrapped, mailed and cleaned for Christmas. It was wonderful. My family was all here on the big day, the dinner was perfect, and it was even snowing lightly making it a true White Christmas. A wonderful, wonderful day.

I was just exhausted afterwards.

Still, I made some after-Christmas plans. I wrote out some ideas for the end-of-the-year blog post and made a list of projects to tackle in the coming weeks and months. Great stuff: weaving, spinning and quilting made the list along with the usual plethora of knitting items.

Cat Face
No New Year’s for us. Mom got sick.

The Monday after Christmas I woke up sick. Influenza!! I had had the vaccine, but I knew that it was unlikely that I would get the full benefit because of my immuno-suppressant drugs. By New Year’s Day I literally couldn’t get out of bed. The next day I dragged into the after-hours clinic and was sent home with antibiotics and some serious cough medicine. Thus a cascade of severe unhappiness was launched. Here’s the short version: bronchitis; removal from immuno-suppressant drugs; allergic reaction to the first antibiotics; more antibiotics; a full rebellion by my digestive system; low blood pressure; dizzy, dizzy, and more dizzy; help: I can’t even manage to knit; a flare of my systemic sclerosis; and a complete helping of why can’t I breathe right yet??? There. That was the whole month!! In fact, it is still going, but I am definitely on the mend.

Take home lesson: it is possible to survive on yogurt, cranberry juice and Christmas cookies. Maybe I should write this up as a new fad diet. 🙂 It is also good to have a pile of books waiting to be read. An emergency stash of chocolate is a given, right? Oh yeah, one more thing: GET YOUR FLU SHOT, PEOPLE!!

Two weeks ago I pulled out my partially completed Daelyn Sweater (by Isabell Kraemer) and got started knitting on it again between naps. Last week I finally finished it. Oh, my goodness. What a wonderful sweater. It kind of looks like a sweatshirt…

Daelyn Sweater
See what I mean? The ultimate comfy weekend sweater. This baby is knit from the top down and there isn’t a seam anywhere in it. I decided to knit the XL size (43.75 inches) so that I would have at least 6 inches of positive ease; because of the garter stitch shaping it hangs really nicely and is actually kind of flattering. This view of the sweater is pretty boxy looking, so I decided to try to get a selfie…
Sweater front
Do you know how hard that is? Ugh! Still, this gives you a better idea of how the sweater actually hangs. Once it is on it doesn’t look wide and boxy anymore because of the garter stitch side panels. My swollen fingers are due to the systemic sclerosis flare. I want my drugs back!!
Raglan Sleeve
and just check out the raglan sleeve and the back view! The garter stitch in the back  makes it really comfy and stretchy. The back of the sweater is a little longer due to short rows shaping which also helps make it hang nicely over my rear end. 🙂
Cat chomping yarn.
Did you notice the cat hair on the sweater? Yep. That’s a thing as cat help and yarn chomping happened fairly frequently as I knitted… MacKenzie purrs and kneads like a madman (madkitty) in these sweater attacks so it is hard to heartlessly chase him off. I think that he especially liked the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarn that I used.

Shelter Yarn

I have to give a shout out to this yarn. You almost have to work with this stuff to believe it; it is soft, squishy and very light weight. My finished sweater is soft, warm, comfy, looks and hangs like a bulky sweater but weighs very little. It is almost a shock when I lift it to put it on. There are little bits of veggie matter in the yarn, but I think that is because it hasn’t been over processed. It was fairly easy to pull them out while I worked.

When I got ready to knit my sleeves I began to panic about running out of yarn. I ordered two more skeins online that were from another dye lot. I blended the new yarn in by knitting every other row for 8 rows (it did happen on the sleeves..) and you absolutely can’t see the change in yarn. I could have just skipped the blending. How’s that for quality control! Here are the Ravelry notes for my project if you want more info.

So, here it is whole month late but I am starting to think about my new projects for the year. Lots to do. You weren’t very nice to me at the start, 2016, but let’s see what we can get going now. Behave yourself!!