Hello Autumn: Leaves, Pumpkins and Knitting

This is my favorite time of the year. What’s not to like? The trees are strutting their stuff, the heat is finally letting up, and it is time to fire up the crock pot for some long overdue comfort food. Oh, yeah. The first snowfall is right around the corner. Knitting weather for sure!!

It has been just stinking hot even though we are past the middle of October, but the trees are right on track. Check out the maple leaves in my back yard.

Maple Leaves
The leaves are all off the tree now, but I did get a great shot of the color last week before they dropped.

I’ve been just longing for fall. As soon as the pumpkin farms opened I went with my grandson and DIL for some pumpkin fun. We went on rides, chased each other on tricycles, fed goats, watched pumpkins getting fired from a cannon (!!), and of course took a wagon ride out into the fields to get our pumpkins.

Aiden and I at the pumpkin patch. There are about 30 different types of pumpkins planted in the fields; we had 15 minutes to run around to pick and drag out the ones that we wanted. Good thing there was a time limit… there were an awful lot of cute pumpkins!!
The pumpkins are now hanging out in my living room adding some fall color. Don’t you love the warty one? I’m told it will make good pie, but I don’t have the heart to cook it yet.
Pumpkin and Wheat
Doesn’t this just scream fall?

The pumpkins and leaves are making me feel so happy and longing for the cooler weather.  I pulled out the yarn and patterns to start a couple of quick little projects in fall colors. I knitted like crazy all last week, and here they are:

I liked this yarn so much that I actually bought this fig colored sweater to go with it. This pattern is the Riverbed Shawlette by Grace Akhren. 
The shawl is knit by making a large garter stitch triangle with the lace edge along one side. I was getting a little worried about running out of yarn when the knitting suddenly turns the point at the bottom of the shawl and then the other side of lace was added to the live stitches as you worked up the other side. Plenty of yarn! The ruffle is knit last by picking up stitches on the other edge of the lace trim. I love the different directions of the color in the final shawl. Ravelry notes here.
I started these Akiko MItts by Sivia Harding on the same day that I cast on the shawl. I couldn’t resist; Akiko is a Japanese word that stands for “Autumn” according to the pattern notes. Besides, everyone needs more than one project going at a time, right? The shawl was easy knitting to take with me, and these charted and beaded mitts were for at home knitting time. 
Check out the detail in these mitts! They fit just perfect and while following the chart was a little tedious, the twisted stitches were really pretty easy to do as the pattern included directions on how to knit them without using a cable needle. I’m making two more pairs of these for Christmas presents. Ravelry notes are here.

Suddenly I finished the little projects within a day of each other. Ugh. Knitting lapses are downright depressing. Resisting the urge to cast on several more little projects I pulled out the sweater I had started a few weeks ago that had been languishing during the heat (OK, it’s only in the 80’s, but that is hot for October!). Surely eventually it will be cold enough to wear this baby. I believe! I started knitting on it in earnest over the weekend.

This is the Guernsey Pullover by Norah Gaughan that was in the last Vogue Knitting Magazine. The construction is pretty unusual; decreases in the middle of the front form the shaping for raglan sleeves. I think that the variation in the yarn is adding interest to the knitting, but at one point I was knitting from two skeins to keep the colors from pooling too badly. Ravelry notes here.
Cat and knitting
You know who moved in to help during the photo shoot…
Yarn and cat
and the usual yarn war with MacKenzie began. I won. Barely. He was pretty determined to have some fun this time, and he has those sharp pointy bits on his paws…

How does he know I’m out taking pictures of knitted items? He was upstairs asleep. It’s a mystery.

It’s snowing in the mountains of Colorado today, but was quite warm again today. I knit on the sweater all afternoon anyway. Someday soon the snow will come down here and I’ll be glad for the sweater.

The trees know. Winter is coming.

Sorry, MacKenzie.






Out of Love and Back Again: Say Hello to my Little Jujuy!

At the end of August I cast on my Jujuy shawl (by Joji Locatelli) with excitement and anticipation for a beautiful final object. I couldn’t wait! Cooler weather was on the way and I was positive that I would be needing this fabulous light wrap before the leaves started changing. September! Falling leaves and the first frosty morning had to be on the way.

Look at these colors! The grey is fingering, and the pink and blue yarns are single ply lace weight yarn that I decided to knit double. I loved these colors!

Right. We had a couple of days in the 60’s, but the month was loaded with days in the 80’s. It was darn right toasty here almost all of September. The trees began to flash a little red and yellow, but all things considered it felt a lot more like summer than fall. The shawl languished.

Shawl Detail
Okay, I got stuck in the sections with the grey and pink. The shawl kept getting bigger and bigger and was getting bunched up on the needles. There was all this light grey, and the pink looked pretty darn washed out. Even when I got to the mesh section that was all pink it looked too much like an item for a “Pretty Princess Dress-up” party. Ugh. Did I mention that I turned 65 in September? It seemed like the shawl was mocking me.

I became discouraged and put the shawl aside. I knitted several other projects that had been moping around the knitting chair and freed up some knitting needles. October arrived and I had only this shawl and a winter sweater left in the UFO pile. I ignored the sweater (nothing personal little guy. It’s still pretty hot outside even though it is now October…) and slugged my way through the awful, washed out pink mesh section of the pattern. I was so unhappy with the look. The mesh was the worst, and the look of the doubled lace weight pink yarn made me want to ball the whole thing up and stuff it into the back of the stash. This is serious. Anything stuffed into the back of my stash could easily never be seen again. I gritted my teeth, got another cold drink and kept going. Finally, finally I made my way down to the edging with the third darker color.

Shawl Detail
Bam!! I am in love! The blue has pulled all the colors together in the best way ever. The pink now looks like it has enough variation and the pink hue picked up the vibrancy that I expected when I first started the shawl. As soon as the final shawl was wet blocked the doubled plies settled down and clung to each other; now the doubled yarns matched the single-ply fingering in appearance and performance.
Wing of shawl
I especially like the wing of the shawl where to the pink and blue are joined.
and here is the finished shawl. Love, love, love!
Because the shawl is asymmetrical the two sides look different when you wear it. What’s not to love?

This week the weather turned cold, I had to drag in potted plants from outside so they wouldn’t be killed in our first frost of the season, and the leaves of the tree out back turned a blazing red. Fall has finally arrived here in Colorado.

As it turns out, I had planned the knitting exactly right after all.

You can find my Ravelry notes here.

Have a good weekend everyone!

MacKenzie Speaks: Three UFO are Done!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

The Mother of Cats says it is fall now, but it is still nice and warm out here in the garden. I love the garden.
The leaves on the maple tree are starting to turn funny colors, so maybe she is right about fall. Look at that!

The weather has been cooler this week and she has been sitting outside with us knitting away on the projects that she is calling the UFO pile. Yellow Boy is worried that UFOs are a new kind of bug, and has been hunting for them at the back of the house, but I’m pretty sure it’s stuff with yarn. I love yarn!

Hawkshaw Cowl
This thing called a cowl was done first. I really like this yarn… so cushy to squish with my paws, and the absolutely best chomping size. She calls it worsted. Whatever.
The finished cowl is just the right size for a little sleeping pad. For some reason she took it away from me and put it into a storage box to wait for winter. Bad, Mother of Cats, bad!!  

She has also been knitting some of the nice yarn that came from Alta Vida Alpacas. She dyed this yarn in her crock pot, and no matter how many times I visit her in the knitting chair she absolutely, positively will not let me play with it. She says that it is special. Hey, I’m special! I think that she needs to pays better attention to her priorities. Cats should come first!

Alpaca Cowl
So, the cowl got done without much help from me. It’s a Moebius, what ever that is. She says it means that as you hang it around your human neck and fold it the little blackberries are all facing up.
Cat paw on yarn
I like the little blackberries….
Cat snoozing on cowl
They are really, really nice and soft to take a snooze on. I need lots of sleep. Taking care of the Mother of Cats is exhausting.

Finally today she got a third project finished and took it outside to take her little pictures. Yellow Boy and I were completely ignored while she tried hanging her shawl in different places in the yard. She hung it in the tree, on the fence, across the garden bench, and on the deck. I’d like to mention that the deck is totally my territory…

I tried to help her as much as I could. It’s not my fault that she tripped over me by the tree: she should be more careful! I tried to help her arrange the shawl on this garden bench, but she chased me away and put one of the stupid garden plants there instead. 
Close-up of Lace
Then she put it on the deck for a shot of the lace. Do you see my paw? No, you don’t. She wouldn’t let me stand on it. Don’t you think that this shawl would look better with a cat?
Shawl and Cat
There. That’s what I’m talking about. Don’t I look nice?

She is so happy to have these projects done and has been collecting up all the knitting needles back into their storage cases again. I’m so glad that I could help her. I’m such a good boy!

Can I have a cookie now?

The Mother of Cats would like to mention that the the project notes for her little UFOs can be found on Ravelry:


MacKenzie Speaks: The Mother of Cats Grows Old

This week there was a flurry of activity. The Mother of Cats seemed busier than usual, and we certainly got neglected. There was a lot of commotion and she seemed to leave us alone a lot of the time. She went to the dentist (great checkup, whatever that means), out to lunch with friends, and out to dinner with her son. Did she bring us anything? No!

She put us out in the yard while they took away the oxygen machine. Can you believe it? She has gotten so frisky that the doctor decided that she doesn’t need her oxygen any more. Yellow Boy and I are having trouble sleeping now that it is gone. I’m not sure she really is focused on our needs the way she needs to.

She was so excited about the oxygen leaving that she bought a cake with the inscription “Goodbye Oxygen” on it and took it to her knitting group to share. They must have known that the cake was coming because they had a card waiting to give her…

Why are there no cats on this card?  Wait, what type of card is this?  Can this be a… Birthday Card?
Oh. That explains why these flowers arrived from her sister. I thought that they were for me…
Now that I think of it, she did say that this was her birthday yarn…
Books and Yarn
and her daughter-in-law bought her more birthday yarn. Look! It even matches the books that arrived at the library for her on her “special day”.

All this yarn, books and flowers are just crazy. She doesn’t need all of this special stuff. We don’t care that she is now an official senior citizen.

Mac and Me
We just care that she loves us.

Happy “You Got Old” Day, Mother of Cats. May you have many more.

Can I have a cookie now?


Hey, what happened to all of my knitting needles?

Having dyed the most scrumptious yarn ever, I began the hunt for the correct size needles to cast on and knit a cowl to dye for. Little problem, people: I seem to be missing the correct size tips for the project in mind. In fact, there seem to quite a few needles and tips missing… you know what happened next. I went on a UFO hunt.

OK, if you are reading this blog post looking for information on extra-terrestrials, go away. Once I posted an article titled “UFO Hunt” to this blog and generated a lot of activity and even a couple of messages signaling how disappointed people were with the “click-bait” false advertising. Go away right now. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in life out there in the universe, I just want to find the black hole UFO’s that have sucked down those needles!

Oh dear. After about a half hour of tossing the stash and going through baskets, bags, and looking in the car (Hey, you can’t expect me to be caught without something to knit. I always travel with a project!), the following UFO’s were located.

Unfinished Mitts
These mitts came out of one of my project bags. The pink mitts just need their thumbs and finishing, and it looks like I hated thumbs so much I cast on another pair of mitts. Don’t ask. There were two pairs of needles here. 
Unfinished Cowl
and out of another bag came this cowl. OK, it was in the car. Under a blanket. Sorry little guy, I’ll finish you up too. Another needle found, but not the size I’m looking for.
Unfinished Shawl
Wow, I totally forgot about this shawl. This is a Benevolence Shawl that I was knitting in a cotton and alpaca mix yarn for summer. Technically, I still have a week of summer left. Don’t think I’ll make it…
Unfinished Sweater
More needles! This is the start of the Guernsey Pullover from the latest issue of Vogue Knitting. I started it in a rush of longing for fall color during a rainy afternoon. There were several needles in the bin with the sweater, including the size that I needed. Gee, this is going to be a great sweater. It would be nice to get it done before the snow arrives…
Unfinished Shawl
I’m still cranking away on the Jujuy Shawl too. I’m just getting to a wedge that will be all pink… I can’t wait to see what that will look like. 

Well, no wonder I seem to be missing needles. Here they are, all hard at work supporting fiber art life forms struggling to get born.  I need a new queue just to decide which UFO to knit first. I thought about putting the names of the projects on slips of paper in a jar, and then I would just pull out the name of the next project that would get finished. Maybe I should have two jars; one for large projects (sweaters and shawls) and one for small ones (mitts and cowl). Hey, that actually might be a good idea. I could knit small projects on sunny days and large ones on rainy days. It could be a plan. I could even have a jar with the names of projects waiting to be started. Oops. I suddenly had a visual of slips jar hopping from the “waiting” to the “UFO” jars. Might be a problem.

Forget the jars. Don’t you want to know what did I did? I cast on the new alpaca cowl onto those size 6 needles I was hunting for, of course. I have knit for three days like a demon and I’m now coming down the home stretch. Doesn’t it look nice?

Unfinished Cowl
This is the cowl that I was just starting in my last post about crock pot dyeing. Last one started, it will be the first one finished. Typical. Isn’t that why we all have UFOs?

OK, this isn’t a queue, but it is a list of all these poor, neglected UFOs. Here are their project notes on Ravelry:

  1. Scleroderma Mitts – my notes include the pattern.
  2. Hawkshaw Cowl
  3. Benevolence Shawl
  4.  Guernsey Pullover
  5. Alpaca Berry Cowl – my notes include the pattern

Have a good weekend everyone. Hope you all get some knitting done!

Alpaca Blues: Knits from the Crockpot

I was so happy with the yarn and the sample I  made from my first crock pot dyeing adventure I was empowered to gather up my courage to dye some more yarn. Two more projects have emerged from the crock pot.

A bit of heaven for the head: A few weeks ago I tied together the leftovers of bulky huacaya alpaca left over from earlier hat and mitts and dyed them a darker indigo using the same infusion and no-stir method I employed the first time around. The yarn was nice, but blotchy, so I overdyed it with a little more indigo to even it out. This week I knitted the yarn into a hat. What do you think?

Here is the hat. Kind of manly, isn’t it? (Okay, that isn’t a shock as this is an adaptation of the Man Hat by Haven Ashley), but I like the feel of it on my head so I started to think about how to infuse a little cute factor…
Yarn and Hat
I had this much yarn left. Hmmm…
Rosette on Hat
Bam! Knitted rosette is just the solution that I was looking for. I found the pattern for this one in Knitting in the Details by Louisa Harding. I’m debating attaching a bead or button to the middle of the rosette. How about something that looks like a bone button? If you are looking for more details the project is here on Ravelry.

The yummiest cowl ever: that went so well I plugged in the pot and added two skeins of premium sport weight alpaca from Alta Vida Alpacas. I have to be honest here; this is the yummiest fiber I have ever handled and it was a little stressful to wet it down, pour some vinegar over it and add the dye. Still, what could go wrong? Worst case, I decided I would just call up Cari at Alta Vida Alpacas and offer to pay for the yarn. There. What’s to worry about?

What a baby I am. The yarn came out fine.

Look, look! Not as blotchy as the first dye batch, but still pretty darn appealing. I’m keeping notes about the dye amounts and temperatures in the pot to get a handle on this. It’s fun; just like keeping a science notebook again.🙂
Swatch and notebook
Since I’m recording notes about the dye efforts in the notebook I planned out the cowl I want to knit in the same location. I am making a cowl like an earlier one I made in this sport weight alpaca yarn. Here is the swatch that I posted about earlier (link at the top of this post); by laying it over the original cowl I was able to figure out the stitch count to make this one. If you’re interested the original cowl is this one on Ravelry.
I cast on Friday using the directions for a Moebius cast on by Cat Bhordi online. Since this is a moebius the knitting started in the middle of the garter section and both edges of the cowl get knitted at the same time. I’m in the blackberry stitch now; at the top of the picture the berries are “up” and at the bottom they are “down”. Fun, huh. This yarn is just yummy; it is developing a little bloom as I work. I’m writing down the pattern as I go so I can get it written up when I’m done. What do you all think of my fun little notebook?

I’ve run out of alpaca to dye, but I found some white handspun last night that is temping me. Time to plug in the crock pot again. Wait. I have an old vegetable steamer. Maybe I should paint the yarn this time and put it into the steamer…

Oh, I am having fun now!

Have a good weekend everyone.

Note: I feel that I should mention that I have two crock pots: one is for cooking, and the other is for dyeing. They are in different colors and left in different places so I don’t get them mixed up. If I use the veggie steamer it will be joining the dye crockpot in the garage and won’t be used for cooking any more. Best to always use an abundance of caution.

Shawls Update: Good Dog and Bad Cats

Two shawls got finished last week. Check this out:

Shawl #1: Putting on the Dog

My friend Deb had a dog named Jake who was really special. She saved his fur for years when she brushed him, and earlier this year I spun some of the dog down into yarn. I blogged about Jake and the spinning here and this post showed the final yarn.

Oh. It's pretty comfy. Maybe dogs aren't that bad after all...
MacKenzie really liked the finished yarn (which Deb named PuppyPaca)
Shawl in Tree
Look! Here is the finished shawl made with the PuppyPaca. Didn’t it turn out great?
Deb Modeling her Shawl
Here is Deb modeling the finished product. I think that the green really complements the homespun.

Deb has begun her own blog recently where she writes about greyhounds, gardening, and, what else, knitting!! You can visit her site, The Greyt Knitting Frenzy, and see her post about the shawl here.

Shawl #2: Bad Cats

I finished knitting my Random Act of Color shawl late last week and wet blocked it Saturday morning. I really liked how it turn out. Here’s some pics of the final product.

Look at how great the colors turned out together. I love the lace, the texture, the colors; a great addition to my cool weather wardrobe.
Edging and Beads
The beads and the edging are nice details, don’t you think?

What I’m not showing in the pictures is the fact that one of my bad, bad, cats got a claw stuck in the shawl (it was safe on the table at the time…), dragged it through the house and managed to pull a TEN FOOT snag of yarn out. Really. I’m not exaggerating. I found it in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs. The cats were hiding.

Damaged Shawl
Proof of cat badness. This is the yarn that I haven’t been able to work back into the shawl.

The pull goes across almost the entire width of the shawl in the final purple lace section. The yarn didn’t get cut, but I’m not too sure how to repair this. I dreamed last night about cutting off the lower section of the shawl, picking up the stitches at the start of the purple section and then re-knitting the last sections. This morning I work up and thought, “Kitchener stitch!” I’m not quite sure how I’m going to deal with this. There may be a way to gradually work the yarn back into the shawl, but I have to balance time vs. frustration. For now I’ve packed it away (to keep it safe from cats and scissors) and moved on to other knitting projects.

You know, knit through all crisis…