The WIP basket is empty!

It took a month, but look at what has happened:

Cat in empty WIP basket.
MacKenzie has a new toy!

Yep. This is an event of such astonishing rarity it makes a blue moon seem common: every single one of the languishing items hanging out in the WIP basket has been finished. The basket is now empty. MacKenzie was all astonishment for at least 20 seconds before he moved in to make the basket his own. It took the whole month of May, but I now have all of my needles and stitch markers back where they belong.

Socks.
Arent these cute? I love the way the lace pattern switches on the socks to make a mismatched pair.  It wasn’t too bad keeping the different lace patterns under control as a different needle is used on each side of the sock. This pattern is Milfoil by Rachel Coopey. My project notes are here.
Cowl
The moebius cowl that I was working on is also done. Like my model?
Stitch close-up.
Moebius knitting is really fun. I started with Cat Bordhi’s cast on and then knit from the center outward in garter  and blackberry stitch that I had to modify a little to accommodate the circular  knitting and my stiff hands. Because this is a moebius the right side has the “up” side of the blackberry pattern, and the left has the “down” side.
Cowl
When worn the shape allows the wearer to fold the cowl with the same pattern on both sides.
Stitch detail.
This is the same cowl with the other side up. I like them both. If the cowl is doubled up or worn draped around the shoulders both patterns show.

I took really good notes while knitting this time so that I can post the pattern in my next blogging adventure. If you want more info you can find my project notes here. That yarn is Tosh Merino DK in the colorway NIght Hawk. I was worried about how it would knit up, but I like the finished project.

I’m off to cast on a shawl using yarn from the stash and a pattern a friend gave me.

MacKenzie, get out of that basket!

Cleaning out the WIP basket

There is nothing more that I like than working my way through a big project. What can be more exciting than finishing that new sweater or gigantic, endless, Find Your Fade shawl after watching it slowly grow day after day, week after week from a pile of skeins to a beautiful finished project? The drama of the whole thing: is there enough yarn, will the colors go together, is my gauge correct, yarn chicken, and all the other questions and worries of the large project are part of the fun.  A little stressful, but a labor of love, each and every one.

So, it was a little bit of teeth gritting that I pulled out the basket of unfinished projects (UFOs) down from the top of the bookshelf a couple of weeks ago.

Basket
My goodness. Now I know where all of my knitting needles have been hiding out. 

I wrote about cleaning up the UFO pile a year or so ago and got trolled by people who hoped I was writing about aliens. Nope. I guess I should follow Ravelry’s lead and call them WIPs. Fine. This is the WIP (works in progress) basket. It is full of smaller knitting projects that should get done in a couple of knitting days each. Check it out:

WIPs
There is a half pair of socks (I did cast on the second sock, but I still put it aside…), and three pairs of fingerless mitts. 
UFOs
I also found a scarf that was half done and a cowl that had just been cast one night when I was curious about how that great Night Hawk colorway from MadelineTosh would knit up.

Well, how long can all of this take? Time to jump in and clear the basket, I told myself. I pulled out the socks (hey, it was snowing outside!) and got started.

Yarn Chomp
MacKenzie helped as much as he could. 

Now, after two weeks of steady work and cat entertainment I am happy to report that I have made real progress. The basket is almost empty, needles and stitch markers are returned to their proper places, and I have gained a number of small knitted accessories.

Finished knitted items
Here they are. I have finished a shawlette, the socks, two small pairs of fingerless mitts, and a pair of long beaded fingerless mitts. 
Socks
The yarn in these socks made them turn out really cute. This simple pattern for a vanilla sock with deep ribbing at the top and a traditional heel is called “Dave” by Rachel Coopey.
Mitts
The long mitts are Akiko MItts by Sivia Harding and the short mitts are my own simple “Scleroderma MItts” pattern that I recorded in the project notes here.
Shawlette
The finished shawlette is the Riverbed Shawlette (this is MacKenzie’s favorite) by Grace Akhrem. I wore it this week to my knitting group and it was quite a hit. 

Now I’m down to the last item in the basket, a cowl. Wow. I thought that this may take me all month, but I should have the basket cleared by the end of the week. Well, there was that one pair of socks that I couldn’t help casting on while I was working on the WIPs, but still, the end is in sight.

Excellent. I have some large projects all kitted up and ready to go.

Wait until you see these sweaters and shawls I’ve got lined up!

Have a good 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!!

 

Rocking the Week #3 I have some finished objects!!

This was such a fun week. I think that I’m just going to throw up some pictures of the main events because, well, don’t you just want to see what I’m making? Of course you do! Here we go. Hang onto your knitting needles and crochet hooks because I am moving fast!!

Socks
My Vanilla Dragon socks are done! These are knit from the toe up with an after-thought heel. The pattern is Vanilla Socks, and the yarn is MJ Yarns Simple Sock in the colorway Purple Dragon. Ravelry notes here. This is a free pattern guys!
Mittens
That Purple Dragon is fun stuff! I started a pair of Snowfling Mitts using the worsted-weight version of the MJ yarn with some black Malabrigo Rios. Hey, it is good practice before I knit these mittens out of my homespun yarn.
Weaving
I have finished weaving my first dish towel and started on a plaid version. . This towel is going to my cousin Ruth Ann. I need to have all the weaving done and off the loom by Easter so I can deliver her towels to her. 
Fingerless mitts
My scleroderma support group meets tomorrow so I also got some more mitts finished to give away.
Yarn
On Wednesday I found the yarns that I needed to put together the kit to knit Exploration Station by Stephen West. The two yarns that aren’t wound yet (the newly found ones) are lace weight. I plan to just knit them double. How about that for a yarn hack!
Dog Hair
While I was at the yarn store one of my friends gave me a bag of Golden Retriever hair to spin for her. Hmmm… doggie yumminess. I’m going to try to convince her to blend the dog down with some soft wool to give the yarn a little bounce. This will be fun. Really.
Crocus
and look what appeared while I was knitting the Purple Dragon socks! I guess spring is on the way.
Slippers
OK, I know that this is a little over the top, but I was so anxious to see how this yarn would work up I cast on last night and started the Dream Club slippers. Fun! They are really cushy because of the Eye of Partridge stitch.

That’s it! That was the week. I also got some beads in the mail to make stitch markers, but you don’t really want to see an envelope from China, do you? I’ll just save that piece of cuteness for the post about those stitch markers. I also had a surge of energy/empowerment that led me to drive two hours in the middle of the week to a hospital up north so that I could get my medical records from all the lung and heart testing I’ve gone through the last two years. I sent an email to one of my doctors that set off a series of phone calls and now some new tests are ordered and I have a referral to a pulmonary specialist. As soon as I go to the clinic this afternoon I can pick up a shiny new inhaler to help me breath.  Empowerment is a good thing!

Have a great week everyone. If you find yourself knitting at midnight, think of me.

 

 

Rocking the Week #2: Knitting, Weaving, the Super Tuesday Caucus, and a trip to a Howitzer.

Here we are again: not even one little finished object for the dang exhausting week. Every day was a whirlwind of activity, however, so once again I’ve decided to share the journey with all of you with pictures of the highlights.

Colored Mitts
This pattern is Dueling Gradient Mitts being knitted in Kauni bought years ago. 

 

I kept knitting on the Dueling Gradients Mitts that I started the week before, but the colors are changing really slowly in the yarn and I started to get bored. I played with the color placements and am thinking about doing a little Fair Isle somewhere in the mitt. I have more balls of this yarn and can introduce another color (or two) earlier in the mitt. I’m still thinking things over, so the project got parked. I’m considering a little rippage for this baby. Maybe I’ll put a band of Fair Isle above the thumb on this mitt and below the thumb on the next one. Hmmm…

 

While the Duelling Gradients are
This is my own simple pattern. Here it is on Ravelry.

While the Dueling Gradients are hibernating and growing up some new ideas I pulled out some Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 to make some mitts for the Scleroderma bin. These are the mitts that I sell to other patients in my support group for the cost of the yarn. Simple, lightweight, warm and absolutely mindless knitting.

Tuesday was Super Tuesday here in the United States. Along with 150,000 other people I went to caucus for my candidate that night, Yowza! What a night!

Sock
Purple Dragons for my feet. Take that Raynaud’s!!

On Wednesday I go to my knitting group at a local yarn shop and for some reason I wanted a little wild color along with simple knitting to take to that. Hello Vanilla Socks!  These socks are toe up and have an afterthought heel. I keep seeing other people making these socks in their blogs and decided that I should jump on that bandwagon too. Look at how cute they are turning out! This yarn is from MJ Yarns and is Simple Sock Fingering Weight. This colorway is Purple Dragon and I absolutely love it! I bought some Purple Dragon to make some mittens too, but that is for another week’s post.

Howitzer
My son tells me that this is a self-propelled Howitzer

Yesterday I hit the road to return the materials from the Project Learning Tree workshop I facilitated for the school district I live in. How fun! I had to drive across town to historic Camp George West near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The old buildings of the base are now used by many Colorado State agencies, but they still have old armaments out on display.

It sure does fill like Spring, although March is traditionally our snowiest month. The plants in my garden are starting to come back to life. The prairie dogs are barking and playing in open lots across town. We’ll be seeing baby dogs before long; I always think that I should bring leftover veggies to these little guys but it is probably best to leave wild critters be, 🙂

Bag and flowers.
How could I resist the cute floral tote and some flowers from the nursery! The rose will have to stay indoors with me but the pansies are the type that can survive snow so they go into the ground next week. 
Dishtowels on loom
Oh, yeah. I almost forgot! The major activity of the week has been weaving. I’ve been binge watching Shades of Blue and throwing my shuttle to make dishtowels. This towel is using a white weft, but the next towel will be plaid with the weft in the same colors as the warp. I just love this process; throwing the shuttle, creating the fabric and winding it onto the cloth roller is just a source of joy to me. It is a little hard on my hands so I only weave an hour or so at a time, Still, I should have the whole set of towels before long. 

See: lots done, nothing finished! Even as I write this I am thinking about going upstairs to wind some more yarn and am fighting an urge to play in the stash to find yarns/colors for shawls. A whole set of shawls!!

Guess next week will be much like this one. 🙂

Cold weather ready: socks and indoor plants

The October 2015 Socks are done!

October Socks
These are the Om Shanti Bed Socks by Alice Yu. That cool yarn is Serenity 20 by Zen Yarn Garden. They are extremely comfy and the snug little ankles keep them on my feet overnight. Perfect for the sleeper with cold feet. (Yep, that’s me. Thanks Raynaud’s!) Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

If you are interested in the history of these socks, here are the related posts:

I am almost caught up with the resolution socks; last night I shopped the stash to pick the yarn for the November Socks and am torn between two different patterns. Next week I’ll make the decision, wind the yarn and cast on. Here’s the problem: I found a wonderful blue yarn, but there is also this gold/purple/brown yarn that looks like the perfect color for November… The blue yarn works for the pattern I planned to knit, but the autumn colored yarn is so perfect that perhaps I should give it and a cute lace patterned sock a try… Maybe I should make two pairs of socks this month. 🙂

I worked like a maniac this week on the bed socks because it has suddenly become cold outside. We had a nice snowfall Thursday, and the last two nights have gone well below freezing. That was it; I had to bring some of the outdoor plants into the house for the winter. I went to the local Home Depot store and bought some plant grow lights for them, and with some care and rotation under the lights I hope to keep them going until next spring. Here’s the winners in the survive the winter plant lottery:

Pink daisy
The pink daisy-like plant moved into the bedroom by a window. Looks happy, doesn’t it.
Geranium
The geranium is also getting parked in front of the bedroom window where it will hopefully get enough light. I plan to let both plants visit the plant lights in my craft room a few days a week for a light boost.
Orchids and blooming plant
I pruned this plant back to about half its height and put it in front of the window in the craft room. The orchids have been doing pretty well in this location: both orchid plants bloomed for me last year. The (very cheap) wood shelf unit actually has three shelves; I bought clip-on grow lights that I can move around to give the plants light from different directions this winter to supplement the natural light.

I have more plants shoved onto the two shelves below this one but they are just too messy to show off right now. I need at least one more plant grow light to make things work, and the lower shelf plants still need to be pruned back. I’m pretty sure that the plants will drop a lot of leaves as they adjust to the lower light levels, but they should all make it and hopefully will manage to produce some winter blooms. One of the plants on the lower shelf is a rose bush that has survived indoors for three years in a row. I know he’ll make it! The pink flowering plants are also producing a lot of scent which makes me just happy. It’s like having a little piece of summer all year long.

All right winter, bring it on. I am ready!!

Wednesday Update: lots of work, very few words

I would love to do a Wordless Wednesday. It would be so cool. I think that I should set a goal for myself to work up to it slowly and to capture the best picture that displays the struggles/successes of the week. Since I didn’t do that here is an almost wordless Wednesday update of my current projects.

Socks
Om Shanti Bed Socks socks by Alice Yu. Here are the Ravelry project details.
Roving
Strips pulled from the long edge of the giant batt and rolled up ready to spin. The spinning wheel rattled his double treadles in excitement the whole time I was doing this…
Singles on bobbin
Singles spun using a supported long draw that will eventually make a fluffy 2 ply worsted weight yarn. Happy spinning wheel.
Cat on spinning chair
You wanted to spin? Whatever…

It’s raining outside and will change to snow overnight. I have the flowering plants that I want to keep inside and I am ready to ply this yarn tomorrow. Sure wish my bed socks were done. Have a great rest-of-the-week everyone.