Knitworthy

It began with a wail (really, you can wail by text…) from my niece in California… MY MITTS ARE HURT!! The wailing continued in the following texts… How could this have happened? I took such good care of them! Suddenly they are falling apart! If I send them to you, can you fix them?

I literally save the leftover yarn from all of my projects just for moments like this one, and I knew that I had the yarn from these mitts, so I said to send them to me and I would see what I could do.

Mitts on magazine cover.
While waiting for the mitts to arrive I hunted down the pattern. They are the Latvian Fingerless Mitts shown on the cover of this magazine (Knitting Traditions, Winter 2011), and they are just beautiful. Just look at that pattern! My niece asked me to make them as soon as the magazine came out, and a few weeks later I sent them to her.

Did you notice the date on the magazine cover? Those mitts were made 8 years ago. Oops. I think that I know what went wrong…

Worn mitts.
Even the most lovingly cared for mitts will eventually wear out. The breaks and worn fibers were right along the edging and thumb where they rubbed against the steering wheel of the car.  Poor babies… nothing is forever.
Dead mitt.
No question about it. The repair job on these mitts would be horrendous. I let her know that they were toast.

Here’s the deal with the mitts. The day that she received them from me she sent back a happy picture of her wearing them with a huge smile on her face. She showed them off on Facebook. She made them the cover picture of her Facebook page. She thanked me again and again over the years as  she continued to wear and enjoy them.

Never, ever, was there a person more knitworthy than my niece!

I told her I would make her some new mitts.

My niece began to send me pictures of wildly intricate and fiddly mitts for me to consider knitting for her. Lots of color, braids, ruffles, bobbles and stranded features. Mitts that a unicorn would be ecstatic to receive. My heart sank. I’m drowning in knitting, and I have also been contacted by another couple of people asking me to spin/knit for them. It is Christmas. I want to go back to knitting some of my projects that were bumped for the holidays. I don’t want to buy more yarn…

Monet Again mitts.
But when this came I was hooked. Hummm… where is this pattern? What do I have in the yarn stash? I must make these!! I must!!

Curse you Pinterest! There is no way I can walk away from the fabulous mitt project now when faced with this!  All objections were abandoned and I committed wholeheartedly to knitting “mitts to die for”.  My niece and I began to track down the pattern and worked in tandem until we had it. These mitts are the project of the Ravelry user Susanmarie, and here is her project page for the mitts. She based the mitts on a sock pattern produced by Blue Moon Fiber Arts called Sauvie Island.  Luckily for me Susanmarie kept fabulous notes on her design, so I’m in pretty good shape as I attempt to make these mitts for my niece, but I needed to hunt down the original sock pattern.  We soon discovered that the pattern was included in a booklet produced by Blue Moon that is now out of print, but more intrepid investigations led us to a PDF version that could be purchased. I bought the sock booklet and my niece will reimburse me. We were in business. Time to stash dive for the yarn!!

Yarn
Check out this color wildness!
Greyscale of yarn.
I wanted to make sure that there would be good contrast between the two yarns to support the stranded colorwork. Yep. This should work!`

A unicorn would cry tears of joy to have mitts made with this yarn. Okay, my niece is not a unicorn, but she has been known to flash hair in some of these bright colors; the colors and the mitt design are screaming her name. I bumped her mitts to the top of the project queue. As soon as the essential Christmas knitting is out of the way I’ll be casting on…

What will happen to the worn out mitts? I have to send them back to my niece because she wants to FRAME THEM!

Never, ever, was there a person more knitworthy than my niece!

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MacKenzie Speaks: The Christmas Knitting Frenzy has Commenced!

Hi I’m MacKenzie.

Cat and knitting.
Do you see what is draped across me?

This year the Mother of Cats began to panic really early. She began digging through the yarn stash and tossing skeins of yarn through the air before we had even made it to Turkey Day. (Turkey. I love turkey!! Every year I get to chow down on all the turkey that I can eat, so I remember this!) “Must knit this year, must knit this year,” she kept muttering. Really strange, Mother of Cats. More strange than usual.

Must have something to do with the new furnace that I didn’t get to play with while the worker-men were busy in the crawl space under the house. This is how mean the Mother of Cats is… SHE LOCKED ME INTO A BEDROOM!!! while the furnace was being installed. I love playing in the crawl space. Why is the Mother of Cats so mean to me?

Anyway, now we have a new furnace, and the Mother of Cats has turned into a knitting machine. She is completely out of control. She is neglecting me. She has more projects started than she can count. There are bins of yarn all over the downstairs work room. She made a spreadsheet to figure out her knitted Christmas presents.

Yarn and cat.
Do you see how out of control she is?

Some of her presents are hidden away and can’t be shown off yet, but here are the ones that she will let me show off because a couple of them will go into the mail tomorrow.

Mitts
These are little mitts for her sister who just moved to a colder climate. Do you like that yarn? It is yak, silk and wool, and is really yummy for chomping…
Sockhead Hat.
This hat matches the mitts. The sister of the Mother of Cats has never lived in a place with snow before, so this hat should keep her ears dry. The sister should try walking in snow with cat feet!
Close to You shawl,
This little shawl is being knitted in Christmas colors for the Mother of Cats to wear to her book club next week. Knit faster, Mother of Cats! Book club is next Thursday. Have you started your book yet?

All of this crazy knitting, and I am sad to tell you that the Mother of Cats has not put the pumpkins away yet, and the Christmas tree is still in the CRAWL SPACE. I would be happy to go down there to find it for her, but no, does the Mother of Cats ever let me do anything that is fun? No. She does not! I want the tree. Best cat toy ever!

Happy cat.
Except let me eat turkey. She did let me have more of that tonight.

Tonight we are going to work on that shawl some more and maybe cast on another couple of projects. The Mother of Cats seems to think that if she starts knitting something it is like it is already done. Silly Mother of Cats!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The project notes and the pattern that I used for the mitts are on my Ravelry Project page.
  • The Hat is the Sockhead Slouch hat. Wow. This is the first time that I have made this, and I am struck with the need to have one for myself. I need to do some more stash shopping to find a yarn for myself that is a soft as the one I used for my sister. Project notes are here.
  • My sister just relocated from the San Diego area to Oregon. It’s not really an extreme winter there, but I think that she will have to deal with below freezing temperatures and some nasty weather, so the hat and mitts are flying west to here tomorrow.
  • The shawl is Close to You. Hey, this pattern is free, easy to knit, and really nice to wear. My project notes are here.
  • I have 5 more WIPs going at the moment. Slowly, but surely, the pile of finished Christmas knitting is growing…
  • October was pretty darn expensive for me. I put the license plates onto my new car, had the cedar fence replaced, and then bought a new furnace. The good news is that I don’t have to worry about my car break breaking down, or the fence blowing over, or the furnace failing. Peace of mind comes at a cost, but is nice all the same. I hope that everyone loves their homemade presents!
  • The book that I need to finish in the next few days is The Nest by  Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. I’ll let you all know what I think about it. I have been reading a lot, and when I take a break from the knitting I should tell you all about them. I’ve really been scoring some good reads lately.

Indoor Roses

It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about the garden. Over the last couple of years, forced indoors because of my scleroderma, I have had to settle for some potted plants out on the back porch. My favorites among these plants have been surviving in the garage during cold snaps and snowstorms, but we have finally reached a point where the cold is too prolonged for that strategy to work any longer. Time for them to come indoors! I gave them all a little spray of neem oil to kill hitchhiking pests, dragged them inside, and put them near windows. Obviously that wouldn’t be enough light for the little rose bushes. You know, the kind that you buy at the grocery store when you meant to just buy bread, milk, and ice cream. I have several pots of those roses and those babies were growing in bright sunshine all summer! Last week I headed on over to my favorite garden center to see what I could do to help my floral buddies survive over the winter in the house.

Light on roses.
I found a nice little grow light and a stand that, with a little ingenuity, can provide lights for the roses on my bedroom dresser. 

While I was unpacking the grow light and putting it into the stand I noticed that the light fixture itself was designed to also be attached below ceilings, shelves, cupboards, or some other solid feature. There are two little metal brackets and two screws involved. Hey, this is something I can do. I have more plants needing light! I headed back to the garden center.

Grow light on shelf.
I have a cheap set of wooden shelves in my sewing room for plants. Behold! Lights for my orchids! That pink flowering plant has a scent, and the blooms make me happy. My sewing room is really inviting now.

I’m pleased with how the plants are managing with the new light, but there is an obvious readjustment going on with the little mini-roses. They are undergoing a transition with their leaves…

Yellow rose leaf.
All of the summer leaves that grew in full sunshine are turning yellow and dropping off. Seriously. ALL of the leaves.
New growth on the rose bush.
New growth is bursting out all over the stems following the dropping of the summer leaves. Crazy, huh. I am pulling off yellow leaves and pruning almost every day as the rose plants go through this process. 
Rose buds.
The new leaves look healthy and glossy, and the buds are continuing to develop just fine.
Rose blooms.
The plants are even managing to bloom while they are adjusting to the new lights.

I’m pruning the little bushes down to a lower height as they finish up with the last of the summer blooms and the old leaves drop off. There is so much new growth on the stems I’m pretty sure they are going to be fine.

It looks like I’m in business. Winter roses. I may not be able to get outside all that much now, but with the new full spectrum grow lights and the indoor roses it’s like I’ve brought the garden indoors.

Once again, I am knitting in my garden surrounded by my roses.

Take that, scleroderma!

MacKenzie Speaks: Zweig Alert! It is done at last.

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat and sweater
Do you see what is flopped on top of me? It is the finished Zweig!!

That’s right. The Zweig is finished at last. The Mother of Cats stayed in bed all Thursday with me knitting away on it while listening to a book for her evening book club event, when suddenly, it was done! After hours of being forced to stay off the sweater it was suddenly a nice little blanket for me. Good job, Mother of Cats!

Oh, no. The Mother of Cats was just messing with me. Why doesn’t she take my needs more seriously?  Within minutes of binding off the last sleeve she had dumped the whole mess of yarn into a sink and covered it with water. Why does she do these things?

Cat helping block a sweater.
Okay, I must admit that I do like wet wool.
Cat on sweater
Forget that. I LOVE the smell of wet wool. It’s curiously soothing…

I had just started to paw the wet sweater into a nice cushy bed for myself when the Mother of Cats freaked out, shrieked, and chased me off. She covered my sweater with another layer of towels after that to let it dry overnight. I slept on top of the towels for awhile with a couple of my toys, but it just wasn’t the same.

Today she moved it to a screen to dry some more, and this afternoon, still damp and with strings hanging off of it,  she took it out for a picture. Did she let me play with the strings? Did she let me go outside with her? NO! SHE DID NOT! I do not understand why I am being neglected this way.

Zweig hanging in tree.
It looks pretty good out there, doesn’t it?

The Mother of Cats is kind of moping around now that the sweater and her book is done; maybe she needs some catnip.  I’m finally getting more attention and cookies, but last night she began to dig through the yarn stash and organizing stuff into bins labeled “Christmas Knitting” and “Fingerless Mitts”. I helped her with that as much as I could and even got some red yarn rolled under the guest bed. I’m such a good helper! I’m pretty sure that she will be busy on new projects, but right now I’m getting more attention. As I should.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This sweater was cast on the last day of summer, and I am so pleased to report that it is done just in time for cold, blustery weather coming in next week.
  • The sweater is Zweig by Caitlin Hunter. I knitted it in two cashmere blend yarns that were just a joy to work with. The blue even has some silk in it! I was torn about what color to combine with the blue but eventually settled on the gold as it made the blue come alive best.
  • Yarn
    Here the yarns are when I made the final decision for the sweater. 
  • You can find my project notes on Ravelry here.
  • Last night I returned to a shawl that had been neglected for a months. Soon after casting on I had decided I didn’t like it very much; now I can’t wait to get it done and to cast on another. My head is swimming with different color combinations for more shawls. Maybe some for Christmas?
  • Oh, yeah. Christmas gift knitting. Maybe it is time to get going on that. I usually start panic knitting after Thanksgiving, but why not start the panic a little earlier this year? Let’s see… I have a cowl to do, several hand warmers, some stars and candle covers, towels to weave and dishcloths to make, quilting that was put off from last year, and…
  • TIME TO PANIC KNIT!!!

 

The Color Continues…

Last week I was having the time of my life knitting up some fun socks in perfect fall colors found in a skein of Colorful October dyed by Chasing Rabbits Fiber Co for my favorite LYS, Colorful Yarns. By the end of the week the socks were done. Check these babies out!

Finished socks.
The colors of my yard captured in a pair of socks. My project notes for these socks can be found on Ravelry here.
Leaves.
The leaves in my yard have now all fallen off the trees, but there are still lots of trees out there showing off. This tree was in a parking lot by the grocery store.  I love these leaves! My mood lifts with each new vista of fall colors, and every trip out of the house makes me want to knit more of the bright fall colored yarn.

You know that I had to buy another skein of this yarn. Last Wednesday I threw caution to the wind (I already have a stash that will never be exhausted in my lifetime…), bought more Colorful October, and gleefully cast on to knit a pair of arm warmers to match the socks. I’ve got to hurry here: fall won’t last forever.

Arm Warmer.
The first arm warmer is done.

Hey, notice any difference between the colors in the arm warmer and the socks? Yep. The colors in the arm warmer really did pool, huh. I kind of expected that something like this would happen because… stitch count. The arm warmers that I have been knitting for myself are knit from the elbow down towards the wrist with a stitch count that decreases from 72 to 64. Look at what a difference a few stitches made.

Pooled knitting.
The portion of the warmer knit with 72 stitches really pooled.
Wrist cuff.
That pooling disappeared when the count dropped to 64 as I approached the wrist 

Huge difference in appearance as I came down the warmer towards the wrist. The part of the warmer that will show while I’m wearing it under a sleeved top will exactly match my socks, so I’m happy with the look.

Socks
That’s why my socks, knit at a stitch count of 64, didn’t have any pooling with this yarn.

I’m working out my pattern for these arm warmers. They are pretty darn simple knitting, and each time I knit myself a pair I record all of my changes in my project notes on Ravelry. If you want to make yourself a pair too, feel free to check out what I’ve done and cast on a pair for yourself too.

 

Colorful October

I’m still knitting away on my Zweig sweater, but I have to admit that I’ve been drawn off project by the fantastic weather we are enjoying here in Colorado. The days are warm and sunny with a clear blue sky; I’ve moved all of the plants back outside to enjoy themselves before the next frost.

Fall colors.
I love the colors this time of the year. The potted plants are blooming well now that the heat of summer has passed and the tree leaves are in their prime colors. Even my mini roses are outdoing themselves with the cool nights and warm sunshine. Gold and brown leaves litter the lawn, but the grass is still a rich green.

So when I saw this skein of yarn at my favorite LYS, Colorful Yarns, I had to have it! This yarn, which is dyed for the shop by Chasing Rabbits Fiber Co, is one of a series of monthly yarns. This yarn, of course, is called Colorful October. Yay! This is the yarn for me!

Colorful October skein.
Look! There are the colors of my yard all captured in one skein of yarn.

Things only got better after I opened up the skein…

Look! Fall colors in rich tones that mirror the garden. 

I am always a little intimidated by skeins with so much color going on… I want the colors to show their stuff without pooling or looking muddy. I debated on whether to go big (a shawl) or stay small (socks), and finally just cast on and started on some socks using my favorite vanilla sock pattern.

Socks.
Perfect! I don’t know what I was worried about; the colors are all clear and there is no pooling in sight. I am so happy, happy with these guys that I am fighting the urge to go get another skein of yarn to make matching arm warmers

I should have these done in a couple of days and then back to the Zweig sweater I will go. I’ll be wearing my new socks, too, while I finish up the sweater over the next week.

I love October.

MacKenzie Speaks: We’re making a Zweig!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat on sweater.
I’ve been hanging out with the Mother of Cats for days working on our new sweater.

This sweater is really nice. The yarn that the Mother of Cats is using is part cashmere and silk: my favorite to take a nap on. Every time she puts it down I move right in for a quick nap!

Cranky cat.
But she always get cranky and chases me off. Why does the Mother of Cats act like this? She is so inconsiderate and possessive of her things.

I must say, even though she puts the knitting down pretty often (nap time!), we have been making pretty good progress. Look at where we are this morning…

Seater in progress.
Ta-da!! We are now working our way down the first sleeve!

I’m really not a fan of the sleeve knitting: every time the Mother of Cats turns the knitting the whole sweater whaps me in the head. It really gets a little old after a while. She should be more careful, don’t you think? Still, this is a really nice sweater, even when it is whapping me in the head instead of being left on the couch for me to take a nap on. Here are some of my favorite details:

Lace detail of the knitting.
Look a this lace yoke and the strip of colorwork.
Stitch detail.
The body of the sweater has this funky X-stitch pattern. The Mother of Cats followed the directions and learned how to knit this without the cable needle.

This afternoon the Mother of Cats plans to do some binge watching on Netflix while she continues on the sleeve. Drat. Maybe I will spend my time watching for birds and the enemy cat in the back window. My poor head is getting really tired of all the abuse. As soon as she gets up to make dinner, though, the sweater is mine! Cat naps will be happening again.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This sweater is Zweig by Caitlin Hunter. The yarns that I am using and other information can be found in my project notes on Ravelry.
  • I blended the skeins of yarn together using helix knitting for about 2 inches at the transitions. This is the video (posted by Pepperly) that I used to figure out how to do the changes, and I actually knitted an entire round with each yarn and then just made the switch and tensioned the way she described it in the video. Worked great, the switch is smooth, and the knitted fabric feels great.
  • I started this sweater on the first day of fall. I hoped to get it done before the first snow, but that happened last week before I even got to the bottom of the sweater’s body. It is nice and warm today, and with some luck the sweater will be done before our next serious cold snap.