FO: the drijfhout sweater is done!

Today it turned just darn cold after days and days of spring like weather. I know I’m being a whining baby; it is February after all. The weather people warned us that change was coming so I pulled myself together, sewed the buttons onto the drijfhout sweater and wove in the ends. Ta-da! Here it is!

Finished Sweater
How cute is this?
MacKenzie really likes the finished knit. He’s been particularity insistent on cuddles all day.

I took this picture outside this morning while it was snowing so the light isn’t the best, but it really did turn out nice. The fit is just perfect! You can’t really see the details well in the shot, but the sweater is knit from the top down (no sewing!!) with perfect set-in sleeves. I am just delighted with how nice it looks on me (and I eventually hope to have one of my knitting friends take a picture of me wearing it… you’ll just have to take my word for the fit. 🙂 Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

I’ve also been working like crazy on the Find Your Fade shawl. I’m now in the 5th color and am picking up speed as I slide through the second half of the shawl.

Shawl
The best thing is the majority of these colors came right out of the stash! This shawl is going to be huge, and it sure is turning out to be a stash buster!

I did make some changes to the colors (but you know that I am keeping the purple!). I decided that I wanted a beautiful fall like shawl more than I wanted the type of fade that transforms from one color to another, and I wanted to stick with the rosy colorways. The idea that I’m working with is more like the selection of fabrics for a quilt – each color goes with all of the others and the colors call to each other across the shawl just the way they do in quilts. What do you think of my efforts so far? It’s not a “fade” but it will look good and it makes me happy. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

Stitch Marker
My stitch marker goes with the shawl. 🙂

I made this stitch marker from a hand blown glass bead that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last year. I really like the way it looks on the shawl – I may need to get a chain so I can wear the stitch marker like a necklace with the shawl. There are little circles of gold in the glass in the main body of the bead that really shine in the sun; perfect to go with the shawl!

It’s going to be a good weekend. Cold weather, knitting, and I even have yummy meals planned and a new book to read. Life is good.

Have a good weekend everyone!

MacKenzie Speaks: The Mother of Cats Came Home!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat
Cat neglect is an ugly thing. Look at how weak I appear…

I have had the worst week ever. I was abandoned alone in the house ALL WEEK with only Yellow Boy for company. Yellow Boy is boring; he doesn’t really count as company. His idea of a good time is digging tunnels in the laundry basket and sleeping on the shoes in the closet. <sigh>

So, alone. Inside. Stale food and old boring toys. Without even the minimum level of stimulation that a cat of my intellect requires… The worst part of being abandoned… no COOKIES!!!

That darn squirrel in the back yard has been laughing at me through the window for days.

stuff
Finally, late last night, she returned. I helped myself to cookies while she unpacked the car.

That’s right, the Mother of Cats has returned home. We slept on top of her all night so she couldn’t get away again. She brought us new toys, groomed our fur until it was glossy, and let us out to play in the yard again this morning. That squirrel and I had a little chat; he won’t be teasing me through the window for awhile!

Cat
Yellow Boy was so glad to get back outside. Hmm… I wonder why he felt an urgent need to sharpen his claws? I only chased him a little bit while we were left alone. Hey, I was bored!!

Today she did the laundry, took a nap, caught up on mail and let me help her knit in the afternoon. Look what she found on the doorstep this morning when she got the mail!

Yarn and Candy
Someone sent her a package of yarn and candy!

She really got a little teary when she found the package. The Mother of Cats can get a little emotional sometimes. Me, I was fighting back tears myself when I saw there wasn’t a catnip mouse for me in the package… Humans! Maybe she’ll let me play with the yarn. It really is a lovely color and will go so nicely with my fur.

How good it is to have things return to normal again.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

My family has transitioned from acute health emergencies to a routine of long term cancer treatment for my older son, and chronic condition management for everyone else. There is still a long road ahead of us, but we are dealing.

The wonderful package of yarn and candy came from fellow blogger Sharon of Creativity and Family. The yarn is Sharon’s own hand dyed yarn (Inspirational Yarns) and is so wonderful that I really did get tears in my eyes. Thank you so much, Sharon. What a burst of sunshine in what has been a very dark time. If you would like a burst of sunshine for yourself you can find Sharon’s fabulous yarn in her shop on Etsy.

No, I did not let MacKenzie eat all of those kitty cookies!!

Update from Hell: Still Knitting

A couple of weeks ago the bottom fell out from under the Midnight Knitter family: health emergencies, rushes to the emergency room, surgery, a life altering diagnosis of colon cancer for my older son, and the death of a beloved dog. A terrible 10 days.

A week after returning home from the hospital my older son developed complications and once again ended up in the emergency room. Blood clots! Holy smokes, this is not something that I would wish on anyone! Once again we took turns at the hospital and knitted through the wee hours of the morning. It was days before he could go home again.

Buttons on sweater
I finished knitting the drijfhout sweater before I got sick. What do you think of these buttons? I still haven’t attached them or done the finishing work. Soon. Very soon. Then there will be a picture for sure. Project notes are here.

Then the next shoe dropped: even before my older son was out of the hospital again I came down with the plague. Seriously, it had to be plague. It couldn’t have been flu, since I had that shot earlier this year. <snark> Whatever, I got sick. Really sick. Too sick to knit. Ugh. It was bound to happen since I was burning the candle at both ends for days on end and taking chances walking into hospitals with a seriously drugged up immune system, but still … I think that we are due a break here!! After a week in bed I dragged myself up to my younger son’s place and have been recovering with him since then. Now it’s a whole week later and I’m still struggling to get around with a dizzy head and shaky legs, but I am definitely starting to feel more like myself, and I am back to knitting every evening.

Shawl
I’m knitting like crazy on my Find Your Fade shawl. Look!! I’m four colors in and have three to go. I’m still obsessing about making some color changes…. My project notes on Ravelry are here

Tomorrow I will head on home again. Poor MacKenzie! He and Yellow Boy were pretty much abandoned this whole week with only a couple of checks to make sure they had food and water. I know I will be getting an earful from them once I’m back.

Annoyed cat
MacKenzie: What? An earful you say? Just because you ABANDONED us for an ENTIRE week?

Tomorrow my oldest son starts chemo.

I think of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s quote from Knitting Without Tears a lot in times like these. “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crisis.”

Knit on indeed.

If you’re going through hell, keep knitting.

OK, this is going to be a serious post eventually, but before I talk about the sad and painful stuff that has been going on in the Midnight Knitter family I thought that I should get all the fun stuff out of the way. Therefore I present to you for your admiration my WIPs for the week, a terrific score at the bead store, and the results of way too much creative agonizing.

Sleeve
I made some great progress on the drijfhout sweater over the last two days. I’m almost done with the first sleeve. Like the red stripe?

 

 

Cat wearing Hoodie
Photo credit: kristinroach

I found the perfect pattern to make MacKenzie a cat hoodie with the left over yarn. Won’t this look nice on the big guy? I think that the body of the sweater should be grey stripes and the hood, sleeves and contrast details will be in red. The pattern, by Kristin Roach, is free on Ravelry.

Sheep beads
…and look what was waiting for me at the bead store: sheep!! These will make the cutest stitch markers ever. I scored 10 of the little cuties.

 

 

Now for the creative burn. For reasons that will become obvious later on in the post I have been driving around a lot this week, up at all hours of the night, and longing for comfort knitting.  What could be better to fit the bill than to put together a Find Your Fade shawl? I’ve torn apart the stash a couple of times trying to put together a fade shawl. This is one of those deals where as soon as I started to drift off to sleep I would think of another potential skein to put into the mix. I agonized over it; should the shawl be a gradient or something more like a quilt? I finally dragged a crate of yarn into the LYS to have my friends help me with these decisions and to locate a couple of additional skeins to finish up the fade. Here’s what I ended up with:

Yarns for shawl.
A shawl that plays with rose, gold and rich caramel colors. My friends kept pulling out the purple from the set of yarns, but damn it, I want purple!!! so it went back into the group. The yarns don’t look that different in the picture, but in life they are varied and they play off of each other and pull out highlights in other yarns across the shawl. OK, I still worry about this one.

 

 

 

Yarns for shawl
Fade number two. In this shawl the colors progress from the dark grey counterclockwise around to the rust colored yarn. Several of the yarns are alpaca/silk and the finished shawl will be very yummy. Everyone agrees that this fade is in good shape.

I started the rose gold fade this evening and plan to alternate between the shawls and sweater. Why start with the fade that I’m a little worried about? I need to knit in that purple before my friends and fellow knitting addicts find out what I’ve done. It’s crazy I know. I think it’s actually because I’m the most invested in this shawl.

Now on to the trauma and chaos. Exactly two weeks ago a text arrived late in the evening.  “Call me,” it said. “I think I need to go to hospital. I’m in trouble.” I was on the phone and in the car driving within minutes. It was from a member of my family with diabetes, and he was in diabetic keto acidosis. Off to the hospital we went!

Whew. Scary, but handled. We got him home from the hospital a couple of days later and I settled in to stay with him while he recovered. Then there was a phone call…

Another member of the family had been rushed to the hospital with serious bleeding. Tests, more testing, surgery, and then lab reports: colon cancer. The chemo starts in two weeks.

Then the horrible just kept on coming. His dog had a seizure and died the last night he was in the hospital.

Maybe you’re guessed already. I have two sons, and both of them were struck with serious and life threatening health emergencies within the last two weeks; in truth, the end is not yet in sight. Without any warning the family motto became “our brand is crisis…” There’s nothing for it but to keep on focusing on the one thing before you as everything comes unglued. Food to prepare, prescriptions to fill, my grandson to hug, trips across town, prayers, and endless phone calls.

and knitting.

When you find yourself in hell, keep knitting.

MacKenzie Speaks: drijfhout Days

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat with knitting.
I’ve been helping the Mother of Cats every evening with the knitting. 

The Mother of Cats and I have been knitting up a beautiful new sweater for her to wear when she goes out into the snow. It really is nice and light weight knitting; perfect for me to snuggle under while she works.  Look at this yarn that she bought.

Yarn
This yarn goes perfectly with my coat; I especially like the red color. If she would make me a little cat sweater I could go outside with her on the snowy days. Does the Mother of Cats ever think of things like this? No, not so much. Humans can be so self-absorbed…
Sweater design.
She especially liked the red color and wanted to use it to highlight parts of the sweater. She is such a silly human she had to print pages of the cover picture to color with different ideas until she made her decisions. She should have just asked me! This is what she finally decided to knit. It’s OK, but I would have opted for more red on the upper parts of the sleeves.
Sweater
and this is what the sweater looks like with the first red stripe in it. Nice, huh.
Knitting detail.
Look at how great these yarns are knitted together. The envy of every cat, let me tell you.
Cat on sweater
Now we’re working on the sleeves. Hey, this sweater is exactly the right size to make me a cat bed… That would be even better than a cat sweater!!

We have been knitting this sweater for over two weeks. It’s a little boring if I have to be honest. As soon as she get going nicely she has to switch colors which means twisting the balls around each other.  I try to yarn chomp help her with the color changes, but she seems determined to thwart my every need. Still, we are making good progress and it should be done in plenty of time for the next big snow storm.

When she isn’t wearing it I’m pretty sure that I can sneak in some cat naps on it.

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

This pattern is drijfhout by Isabelle Kraemer. The proect notes of gukineru were especially inspiring and my sweater is basically based on hers. The yarn that I am using is Brooklyn Tweed Loft, which is a woolen spun yarn that creates an exceptionally warm but lightweight fabric, which probably explains why I can’t keep the cats away from it while I’m knitting. As soon as MacKenzie leaves the other cat moves in.

My Ravelry project notes are here.

Blackberry Cowl

It has been cloudy, snowy, and cold here. I mean, really cold! Freeze your (Raynaud’s) fingers before you know it cold. Knowing this was on the way I bought food and gas a couple of days ago and then settled into the house with cat-magnet blankets with space heater to do some power knitting. This morning Greeley, Colorado, a city an hour’s drive north of me set some sort of record at -32 degrees Fahrenheit (with wind chill it was -47!!). It wasn’t that cold here, but it was still cold.

Wooden bear modeling cowl
This afternoon it warmed up to a blistering +12 degrees F. so I sneaked out to take a shot of my newly finished Moebius cowl. This was knitted with Hedgehog Fibres Merino Singles, which is a squishy single ply worsted weight yarn. Really yummy around the neck.

I finished another of the leftover WIPs from last year this week. This one is a Moebius cowl using garter and blackberry stitch in a pattern that I sort of winged as I knit. I like it! Here’s what is crazy about Moebius knitting: the cowl is knitted from the middle out, and the pattern is “up” on one side of the cowl, and “down” on the other.

Stitch detail of the cowl
See what I mean? The tiny jog dead center in the scarf is where I started the round in the knitting, and then on the right side of the middle garter section the blackberry stitch is “up”, and on the left you are looking at the backside of the pattern. I like both sides and I think that the yarn looks good in either stitch variation.

The cowl is just the right length to wrap twice around my neck to stay warm, and it also will drape nicely when just worn as it is.

Cowl
Because it is a Moebius the cowl has the same pattern facing up at the outside edges of the cowl and on the side that is displayed in the “shawl collar” folded over. Clever, huh. It also folds nicely at the bottom and behaves itself when you wear it. This color is “off” since I took this picture inside. The yarn really is fabulous jewel tones.
Yarn detail
See.. beautiful jewel tones. This colorway is called Dragonfly.

I like the blackberries the most, so I will wear the cowl the way I took this picture, but it is just as easy to wear it with the other stitch pattern (which looks vaguely woven) facing out.

So, this is my own pattern. I really like how it came out, and I have some cool Madelinetosh yarn that is dying be a cowl too, so I’m fighting an urge to immediately cast on to make another one. I wonder how that yarn will look in blackberries? This yarn was worsted weight and the new one is DK. Will it make any difference? It’s like an experiment!! I used a little more than one skein on this cowl; maybe I can come up with some cool fingerless mitts with the rest of the yarn. Lots of knitting ahead of me.

It warms up this weekend, but looks like I’ll still be on the power knitting drive!

Have a good weekend everyone.

 

Good-bye 2016: The Year in Review

Good grief! Where did the time go to? Just a few minutes ago I was trying to remember to write 2016 on things, and now it’s gone? Why is it the days fly faster the older I get? Anyway, it appears that 2016 has gone out the door and I need to pack up the memories… Struggling to cope with this evident reality I flipped through the pages of my notebook, looked at some stats, flipped through the picture gallery, and discovered that actually 2016 was a fairly productive (but politically horrifying) year. Let’s look at what was accomplished:

  • I completed 28 knitting projects this year!

    2016 Knitting Projects
    It was a good year for shawls, mitts, sweaters and cowls. Very few socks were produced. Sorry feet!
  • 55 books were read! Now, you don’t want to see all those books, right? That’s what I thought. My favorite, however, was Babylon’s Ashes. What can I say? I’m a geek.
  • I wrote 56 posts that received 6,705 views. The post that was most popular this year (sorry MacKenzie) was Farewell Summer, Hello Drachenfels, a post that I wrote towards the end of 2015.  Actually, I posted three times about my Drachenfels shawl in 2015 and all three posts continue to draw regular traffic. Hey, this is one yummy piece of shawl wrap-me-in-your-wings heaven. Here’s the completed item.

    Shawl
    I’m in love!
  • I started several sewing projects, bought fabric for more, and finished ONE quilt. Oops. Guess I have some finishing up to do in 2017.
  • I ended up the year with several knitting WIPs, 83 items in my Ravelry shopping cart, and 20 projects in my Ravelry queue. Must knit faster!!
WIPs
The year ended with these WIPs. I finished the socks already, but I am still working on a cowl, a small shawl, some more socks (the pink cuties at the top middle) and the second black mitt. Piece of cake, right? Should be done by the end of the week… You can probably tell that I have trouble judging time when knitting.

Last night I cast on my first new project for 2017. Sorry little WIPs. I promise that I’ll get you done in time, but I HAD to start a new sweater. It’s cold outside. I crave new yarn and I must have it.

Happy 2017 everyone.