Knitting Jonesy: Yarns and Swatching

This is Jonesy.

Jonesy is my son’s kitten; in this photo he is 5 months old.

Once again I am organizing the yarns to knit up a cat using the pattern by Claire Garland. Jonesy is interesting with his white chin, cream paws and tail tip, and of course, all of those stripes. Okay, I may have something of a cat knitting problem, but I’m not defensive or anything. I’m kind of compelled by the creative and technical challenge of making the mixtures of yarns create a believable, if not exact, copy of the cat. Also, I’m having fun!

So I collected these yarns with the conviction that they were a good start to make knitted Jonesy.

I planned to use the fingering yarn for the base throughout the cat and the stripes and different shades would be created by the mohair blends. When I knit MacKnitzie I used black mohair to create the stripes; when the cat was done the black was greatly toned down by the mohair and it was kind of grey. I figured that the same effect would tone down that dark cedar colored mohair at the top of the picture when I knit it in for stripes.

I learned my lesson a couple of cats ago. Always knit swatches with different combinations of yarn to use in planning the cat.

I kind of feel like that dark cedar is a little too dark. Wow. Those stripes really will stand out and are much darker then they appear in the photo. I kind of want something more like dark caramel to use. I looked everywhere online and in local stores hunting for the shade I had in my mind.

Nope. Nope, nope, nope. I had this color in my mind and nothing else was going to satisfy me. All right then; I have acid dyes and I have skills. I decided to try to create the color in my dye crockpot!!

I played around with some dyes on white wool I had lurking in the garage, and after those results I settled on this combination of caramel with some shots of orange.

I re-skeined a ball of mohair/silk yarn using my trusty niddy-noddy and then added it to a warmed crockpot with a glug white vinegar. I sprinkled the dry dye powder onto the top of the yarn, put the lid back onto the crockpot, and then walked away for an hour. (By the way, this crockpot is used only for dyeing! I keep everything that I use for dyeing in isolation in the garage so it can’t get mixed in with cooking utensils and pots.)

Ta-daa!! The dye exhausted faster then I expected; after an hour on high heat it was over.

The yarn after the first dye operation was really close to what I wanted, but when I got it out of the pot I found that there were several chunks of white yarn underneath. Nope! Time to over-dye. I dissolved about 1/8 teaspoon of caramel dye to the water in the pot, added another glug of vinegar and put the yarn back in. After another hour of high heat in the crockpot the dye had struck and I was done.

This is what I ended up with.

I was happy with this yarn… doesn’t it look like it will produce stripes more like Jonesy? More swatching!!

I now have more options to use in the cat. The very top combination really looks like Jonesy’s stripes! I don’t want to cast on until I see Jonesy again as he is changing quickly while he grows (a dark stripe just appeared down his tail!), but I really feel like I have the yarns I need to knit him up.
Planning the face is going to be interesting… how will I get in those freckles?! I used 5 different combinations of yarns on MacKnitzie’s face and chin, which really helped create the illusion of a real cat.

Whew. Time to put the Jonesy project aside and to go back to my sweater knitting. I also have a second sock to cast on and get going. Did I mention that it is snowing outside again? Oh yeah, something else happened today…

The monster orchid has opened a bloom!!

Author: Midnight Knitter

I weave, knit and read in Aurora, Colorado where my garden lives. I have 2 sons, a knitting daughter-in-law, a grandson and two exceptionally spoiled kittens. In 2014 I was diagnosed with a serious rare autoimmune disease called systemic sclerosis along with Sjogren's Disease and fibromyalgia.

27 thoughts on “Knitting Jonesy: Yarns and Swatching”

  1. I really enjoyed seeing your MacKnitzie cat turned out. That’s a really fascinating approach to building cat-like color. Even apart from making it look like a cat, it makes perfect sense to me art-wise to model an interesting color field on the variation of a cat’s fur. I saw this today and thought of your project. I didn’t know that Van Gogh looked at yarn combos to test ideas about putting colors together!

    1. I’ll check out the video- thanks for the link! This is all new to me, hence my excitement. I’ve been a total science geek all my life and my creative drive was all directed towards my teaching; now I’m having fun playing with colors, textures and yarn. πŸ™‚

  2. You really have the cat knitting bug! Jonesy is adorable, and your mad dyeing skills are really going to help you make a wonderful looking copy πŸ™‚ The stripes in the yarn you dyed are perfect! Thanks for sharing your process – it is interesting to see your planning stages πŸ™‚

  3. You’re KNITTING A CAT ?????
    Sure looks like mine – that is, the one before my current teeny mog. Yep: looks like Lui, alright .. You’re amazing ! πŸ™‚

    1. The designer is amazing! The cat is done now and went to live with Jonesy this weekend. Now I’m putting together the yarns and swatching to create a tuxedo Maine coon cat.

  4. It seems I’m stalking you ! I was looking for a way to make my crochet “CO” looser, and guess whose post I found ?
    Talk about common sense !!
    Now all I have to do is work out if I have the perseverance to do that for a 297-chain beginning .. [grin]

    1. Hey, how fun is that? I’ve never had a blogging stalker. A 297 chain beginning? Yikes!! I put in markers every 50 stitches so that I don’t have to keep counting, and counting, and counting…

      1. Oh, me too. But I have now realized why I cannot use your excellent method: I’m one of those old farts who taught herself to crochet when young; and so I do it like single needle knitting – yarn in right hand. 😦 There are SO MANY things I can’t do; but the muscle memory of all these years just can’t be eradicated. [sob !]

      2. I’m of the opinion that there are no knitting/crochet police and if it works for you, it’s right. You’re so clever you’ll probably invent a new type of CO.

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