Projects, Needles, and Yarn – oh my

Let’s start with the bad news first, so we can end on a good note. Grace went to the oncologist last week and the news was basically what I expected: it’s a very aggressive, fast-growing cancer and there’s no getting rid of it. IF it was contained to one spot and they did major surgery to remove it all, and followed it up with expensive weekly chemo treatments, she *might* make it to six months. However, there are indications it has spread to one lymph node and maybe the liver, so that seemed unlikely. We could try just chemo, which would give us maybe a 40% chance of getting her to 3-4 months. Or we could treat it palliatively and give her the best quality of life for the next month or two, which is what we decided to do. And after her doctor visit, we took her out for a good cheeseburger. And maybe a few fries.

We started her on Pepcid, Benadryl, and a high dose of prednisone, all of which could help control the symptoms and maybe even shrink the tumor a bit. And good news – it did! After a week on the meds, the tumor is noticeably smaller. It’s still an extremely large tumor, and this isn’t a sign of her being cured – it’s just going to improve her quality of life, which I’ll take. She is still in good spirits and doing well, so I’m going to appreciate that as long as it lasts.

Because the oncologist said she was stable in the short-term, the husband and I left the boy home with all the dogs and took a road trip to Alabama to visit the girl. We hadn’t seen her since August 2022! That is way too long, friends. Alabama might not be my favorite state, but we had a good time. Our day trip to Huntsville was a highlight. We found a wonderful used book store, a great yarn store, and spent the afternoon at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center – super fun, especially for the husband. I came home with a lot of new yarn and a lot of new books, and a completed pair of socks. Oh, and when I came home, I found my new needles had arrived! I splurged on a set of Signature DPNs for sock knitting and I can’t wait to cast on.

It’s been a rough few weeks for me – I’ve been in a super negative headspace – but the break helped a lot. I’m so glad I decided to go. The warm spring weather is helping too, I think. And the relief to come home and find out that Grace hasn’t gotten a lot worse! Happy Spring, friends.


When my alarm went off this morning, I felt so tired at the thought of getting up and going to work. It feels like this week has already been two months long. I think it’s because sleep doesn’t help very much when it’s emotional fatigue you’re dealing with. And yet! I got up and did all the things I was supposed to do, so there’s a win. And I have yet another finished cowl to share, so there’s another.

I pulled out my hibernating turquoise cowl and decided it was time to finish it. It alternates several rows of stockinette with lace so while I was working on the plain rows, I also read a book on my iPad, which kept me from getting too bored with the cowl. And I was farther along than I realized, so I got to the end pretty quickly.

The pattern is called Rudimentary (Etsy link) and it’s fine, except it had a few typos which bothered me. And just now, when I went to get the link, I realized my middle section isn’t as big as it’s supposed to be – not sure if that’s my error or the pattern’s! I didn’t love the pattern, wouldn’t knit it again, but eh, it was fine. I have no idea what the yarn is. It was sitting in my stash, already caked, and I couldn’t find a loose tag or ball band, so all I know is that it’s some type of sock yarn with stellina. And it’s pretty.

The color was really hard to capture. It was raining so I couldn’t go outside, and the light by the windows was too bright. But this is close, and at least you can see the different lace patterns.

Happy Tuesday, friends.

FO: Chai Latte Cowl

Over the weekend I knit and knit and knit on my Chai Latte cowl. By Sunday evening my fingers were dark with dye from the yarn, but the cowl was finally finished!

This was a really fun pattern, and it was easy just to keep knitting until I came to the end of the second point. It seemed very long, especially after I blocked it, but it squishes up nicely.

That’s two more skeins out of my stash, hooray!

WIP Update

Even though knitting hasn’t been quite as joyful for me lately, I’m still trucking along on several projects. I cast on my second Turtle Dove II, with the peacock yarn, but it’s hibernating in the early stages of the yoke increases. I’ve got a bright turquoise fingering weight lace cowl going, but it’s very meh for me. I’ll finish it at some point. I did finish a shawl with two skeins of MadTosh Pashmina, which is a yummy blend of merino, silk and cashmere, in a stunning color called Wino Forever that’s impossible for me to truly capture in a photo, but maybe you’ll get some idea.

The pattern is called the Anomalie Shawl (non-Rav link), which is a crescent shape built of alternating ribbing and garter sections. It was wonderful to knit, both yarn and pattern, but didn’t end up quite as big as I’d hoped, even with using two skeins. I also finished the Chai Latte cowl, which I have in a book called Coffee House Knits but is also available online (non-Rav link). It’s currently blocking but here’s how it looked in progress. The yarn is Malabrigo Rios in Purpuras.

And I’m working on a fun single-skein shawl called The Bright Side (free on Rav), with gray/rainbow yarn from Desert Panda. This one is wonderfully mindless and wonderfully cheerful.

Soon I’ll be casting on a baby blanket for a co-worker gift, and I’m itching to cast on a shawl with the new yarn I got at the yarn store Friday. Just the three on the left – the silver sparkle I bought because it was on sale and it’s always a good idea for me to have silver sparkle in my stash. I’m planning to make a Joji shawl called Jodi. It’s available on LoveCrafts, which I prefer, but it’s $1.20 more than it is on Rav, which is kind of frustrating because I prefer not to give Rav money when I can help it. Maybe the fees are higher on that site?

I’ve now read everything Abbi Waxman has written and am almost done with Unraveling by Peggy Orenstein, which is fabulous and I highly recommend for all fiber lovers. It does NOT make me want to shear a sheep and make my own yarn, and it gives me a greater appreciation for all those who are able to do it and end up with gorgeous yarn at the end.

Happy Sunday, friends.

Sometimes I hate to be right

Grace’s cancer is back. Back in November, she had a growth removed from her muzzle that turned out to be a mast cell tumor, and they couldn’t get clean margins. Maybe it’s the worrier in me, but I just felt like I knew it would come back, that she was living on borrowed time. It came back sneakily – under the skin, more inside her mouth, so I didn’t notice it growing right away. But it’s there, and it’s growing, and every once in a while we can tell it’s bothering her. Surgery’s not an option, so our vet has referred us to a veterinary oncologist and the earliest we can get in is April 5. It seems pretty clear that treatment won’t be curative. We’ll be looking at options to slow the growth and buy a little more time.

For the most part, she’s fine – she’s excited to eat, excited to go on walks, still cheerful and happy and playful. In a way that’s wonderful – I want her to feel like that! And in a way it’s really hard – it’s so unfair that this stupid tumor is going to take away this otherwise happy, healthy dog. But I guess cancer’s like that, right? It’s a mean sonofabitch that attacks indiscriminately sometimes.

So. Yeah. Between that and a couple of really stressful weeks at work, I’m struggling a little bit. I seem to have lost some of my knitting mojo – I’m definitely off sock knitting, which is bizarre, and I’m not excited about knitting anything else. I just knit because it’s there and I need something to occupy my hands, if not my mind. I even went to a yarn store yesterday, for the first time all year, looking for that dopamine hit. It helped, a little, not as much as it used to. But I’ll get back there. Until then, I’ll just keep muddling through each day. Thanks for listening, friends.

FO: Scottish Highlands Shawl

I’ve got another finished object to share and I don’t want to wait for next Friday. I bound off and blocked my Scottish Highlands shawl a few days ago but today was the first day warm enough to get outside for good photos. This a beast of a shawl — look at it all pinned out!

I didn’t weigh my leftovers but I’d estimate I used probably 85% of the purple and 95% of the cream. The purple was from gnarledpaw, a skein of Frida Helix Fat that was 600 yards and had a bit of cashmere in it – yummy!!! The cream was Deluxe Sock from Honey Girl Farms and was squishy and soft. It had flecks of purple and burgundy that perfectly complemented the main color. I loved knitting this shawl, except for the last bits of garter stitch where I got a bit bored and ready to move on to the fun lace. And I love how the lace turned out!

This was a satisfying project from start to finish, and honestly, it really underscores for me how different knitters are fulfilled by different things. I adore knitting big shawls with complicated lace but several of my knitting friends don’t. So it makes sense that it would work the opposite way for other things. I can let all you colorwork lovers make your beautiful sweaters and cowls, and know that it’s not for me. Heck, why would I stress myself out trying to knit colorwork when I can make things like this, and enjoy the process??

Other things I’ve loved lately: Book: The Bookish Life by Abbi Waxman. It’s a light read but perfectly delightful, particularly for book-loving introverts. I’ve already started the sequel. Movie: The Lost City. I expected it to be silly and slightly ridiculous, and it was, but it in the best way. It was my kind of absurd humor. TV: Extraordinary, on Hulu. Bonkers and absurd in good ways that make me laugh, but also explores some deeper topics. I haven’t finished the season yet but probably will soon. I also started watching the first season of Abbott Elementary. It’s not quite as good as I expected based on everything I’ve read/heard, but it’s getting better as I go on, and makes for good knitting background.

Happy Saturday, friends.

FO Friday: Colorwork cowl

Okay, I did it. I completed my goal of finishing my first colorwork project, and my Pawsitive Vibes cowl is blocked and ready to wear. Here it is before and during blocking.

I definitely see the paw prints when I step back from it. I wish I’d actually done the ribbing as ribbing rather than stockinette so it wouldn’t roll so much, but not enough to redo it! Here it is post-blocking:

As you can see, lots of rolling which shows more of the inside than I’d like. The stitches evened out some, but not completely — there are still some very loose stitches and floats.

I’m very much meh on this cowl. I don’t think I’ll frog it, though I may change my mind if I never wear it. And at this point I have no plans, desire or inclination to do colorwork again. I might just stick with complicated lace shawls for my challenging knitting. But at least I did it!

Sock It To Me Monday

Knitting is so funny, the way the process starts in my brain. Sometimes I have the urge to knit a sock, sometimes I crave a big lacework shawl, and apparently sometimes I just crave a color. I’ve been craving pink lately, which is what originally sent me to my stash on Saturday. A particular skein of bright pink jumped out at me, and originally it was going to be a cowl, but then I thought, oh, this might not be the most flattering color right up against my face. What prompted that thought? Who knows. I do wear pink, so it’s probably just a bunch of hooey and was just a stupid way for my brain to say this yarn wanted to be socks. And it’s well on its way to being a simple little shortie sock with a ribbed cuff and a garter stitch heel.

Along with that sock, I cast on four other projects … and finished one! When you knit a bulky weight hat on size 15 needles, it goes very very quickly. Normally I love a pompom but I might keep this hat unadorned. The pattern is Urth to Major Tom (I can only find it on Rav but it’s free!) and the yarn is Baah Yarn Sequoia. Our temps are in the upper 50s for a couple of days and then we’ll be back down to low 30s, so I’ll get some use out of it soon enough.

Do you have the day off work like me? Here’s hoping we get plenty of knitting done!

Adding to my WIPs

My Pawsitive Vibes colorwork cowl is currently pinned out and drying after its bath. It does look better but I’m waiting for it to dry before I make my final call. But with that being my third finished object of the year, I decided it was time to cast on a few new things. Plus I was trying to resist the call of retail therapy by shopping my yarn stash. I’d ended my work day Friday feeling pretty good – I’d sent off a difficult article to my boss’s boss for review, and I thought it was pretty good. Then I made the mistake of checking email one last time before calling it a weekend, and they’d replied “Not sure this is what {head honcho} had in mind. Might be good to interview them.” Now, I know they weren’t saying the article was bad or poorly written, just that the angle I took wasn’t exactly the right one. But that’s how it feels anytime I get less than positive feedback on my pieces. So I let that get to me more than I should have and wanted the dopamine hit of buying pretty new yarn. I resisted though and now I’m ready for five new projects!

The teal in the back is for my second Turtle Dove II – did I tell you I ended up going back and lengthening the sleeves of my gray one? Much better! The MadTosh Wino Forever will be a crescent-shaped shawl, the pink will be shortie socks, the turquoise on the right will be a lace cowl, the purple variegated in the middle will be a hat, and then all the way on the right you can see I’ve already got something new on the needles. This is some yummy merino worsted from the Wooly Mammoth in Omaha, and it’s going to be a simple Inclination Cowl (non-Rav Link). I started that one yesterday in the car. There’s a new store near me called Bliss Books & Wine and yesterday was their grand opening, and it sounded like a fun thing to do. So far it’s more wine bar than bookstore – the book selection was very very small – but I’m guessing that will evolve as it’s open longer. Of course I had a glass of wine and bought a book but it was loud and crowded so I was happy to come home and knit and read.

Once I finished my colorwork cowl, I decided to read my new book and it was so good I already finished it! If you’re a Matthew Perry fan, I can highly recommend his autobiography. It”s not the happiest of stories but it was really interesting and well-written, and I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes tidbits of Friends.

Happy Sunday, friends.

Colorwork Update: All is Not Lost

Thank you to everyone who shared tips, support, and commiseration regarding my colorwork challenges. I really appreciate all of it! I did frog what I’d done of the chart and start over with as much intentional looseness as possible, catching floats every 2-3 stitches. The first round like that literally took an hour, but thankfully it got faster and I managed to get through 31 rounds in three nights. Last night I started the second section of corrugated ribbing and realized I didn’t actually do ribbing the first time. The pattern said knit 2 with main color, purl 1 with contrast color. I just knit them all. That annoyed me so I set the project down for a little bit, and when I looked at my colorwork I was just thoroughly disgusted with it. I’d gone from one extreme to the other, and my stitches aren’t all an even tension and some of my floats are way too loose and when I looked at it, I didn’t even see how that stitch pattern was supposed to be a paw print. ARGH.

OH, and my ring broke because I’d apparently redone one of the loops/adjusted the loop too much and the wire said, nope and snapped off. That was okay, though — I still had one loop and that was enough to keep the strands separated enough.

Anyway, this morning I laid out my cowl to take a photo so I could blog my sad sad colorwork story, and in the photo I saw … paw prints?? Let this be a lesson about getting distance and all that jazz.

That was the reassurance I needed to power through and actually finish the damn thing. So this weekend I will do the final three rows of corrugated “ribbing”, bind off, and see how much shit actually blocks out. I will definitely be doing before and after photos. If I don’t love it, I will be frogging and reusing the yarn because it’s gorgeous and I love it so much. I know it’s Old Rusted Chair and I think it’s Squish DK which I also used for my first Douglas Cardi and I adore it.

And I’m fairly certain this will be the end of my colorwork journey. According to my knitting support group, I should have chosen a smaller project and yarns with more contrast, and after 3-5 projects I might actually knit something attractive, but I’m not sure I enjoy the process enough to ever try again. If I do, I’m going to order a Norwegian thimble rather than try to make another ring for myself. The wire’s just not sturdy enough.

BUT. Before I go back to my stupid colorwork, I’m going to wind about nine skeins of yarn. Five are for my second Turtle Dove, and the rest are for other new projects – details to follow!

Happy Saturday, friends.