FO Friday: Week 3, Year 2019

MacKenzie has slept through most of the knitting this week, so I am going to have to post my progress in my own “voice” this week.

Sleeping MacKenzie.
Actually, the only time that I have been able to knit this week has been while he was sleeping.

I think that it is the weather. It snowed over the weekend and the days were gloomy. I had to do errands this week which left him home alone for too many hours; ocicats do not tolerate alone time well. He still misses his brother Yellow Boy. Anyway, when he was up it was all “pet the cat!” all the time. He had absolutely no interest in the knitting or yarn chomping; instead he just climbed on me, head butted my hands to make me pet him and ran his purr engine on high. He is so cute about it the knitting went away each time he showed up at my knitting chair. So, no knitting with cat pictures this week.

In spite of the needy MacKenzie I did get a lot accomplished over the week. Check this out!

Stitch detail of the cowl.
I cast on and started on a Clinkerbell Cowl for myself over the weekend. This MCN DK yarn (another Western Sky Knits score from the Estes Park Wool Market this summer) is just a joy to knit with.
Finished cowl.
By Tuesday I had the cowl done and steam blocked. I just love, love, love this piece and plan to take it out shopping in the snow this afternoon. My Ravelry project notes are here.

I also pulled out a languishing WIP and got knitting on it again. I have several skeins of Brown Sheep yarn that I have had stashed for over 10 years. Now that I am attacking the stash I have pulled myself together and am knitting steadily on this sweater to get it done while it is still cold outside.

Start of sweater.
This is a single ply wool/mohair yarn that is going to be a workhorse for me in this sweater. Can’t you just feel the cushy warmth coming right at you through the picture? You can, can’t you! That’s what I’m talking about.
Progress on my sweater.
Look at how far I got this week!

This sweater is the Daelyn Pullover by Isabell Kraemer, and the second one that I’ve made so I know that it is going to be the perfect warm sweater for casual wear. Okay, let’s be honest. That is just about every day for me these days as I am all about layered wooly comfort that will keep my Raynaud’s under control. This sweater is going to be seeing a lot of wear for sure, hopefully for years to come. My Ravelry project notes are here.

So how am I doing on the 2019 yarn stash challenge? I used up another three skeins of yarn this week!! I am now up to a grand total of 6 skeins for the year; only 44 more to go.

Have a good weekend everyone.

MacKenzie Speaks: Finished Objects

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Sad Cat
Do you see how sad I an? I was placed into time out for sleeping in the Mother of Cats new shawl. I just kneaded it with my claws a little bit…
Cat sleeping in shawl.
It is a wonderful shawl! Soft and so warm. This shawl has cashmere and silk in it with the merino. Perfect for a little cat nap, but the Mother of Cats was all NOPE!! and took me off.  Why is the Mother of Cats so mean to me?
Close up of shawl.
Do you see those nice colors? They are just perfect with my fabulous coat of fur.
Finished shawl.
I guess it looks okay on a human, but it is much better as a bed for me, don’t you think?
Shawl start
She also had this last little shawl to finish from Christmas…
Christmas shawl.
Nice, Mother of Cats. A little late, don’t you think? Typical human laziness. She should have devoted more time to me since she was going to be late anyway.

It is snowing outside today and the Mother of Cats and I have been working on her plants and have started some new knitting projects. I can’t wait to tell you all about what we have been up to.

After a nap.

And some cookies!

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The first shawl is called Color Study and it is knitted with two different yarns from Western Sky Knits. This is the softest shawl that I now own; the knitted fabric is just fabulous! You can find my project notes here.
  • The Christmas colored shawl is another Close to You and the yarn is made from Brew City Premium Draft Sock in the colorway “Silver Bells” . Fast, easy, simple pattern that I’m love wearing for a little warmth in the cold weather. My project notes are here.
  • These two projects used up 3 skeins of yarn. Only 47 left to meet my goal for the year.

Yarn Stash Resolution

So, there is a thing about my stash that you should know… it is bigger than some yarn stores I have been in. Seriously, there is a lot of yarn in there.

Yarn stash.
It is all crammed into a closet attached to the spare bedroom. The main yarn is in the bins. The drawers contain other craft supplies, fabric, roving, and handspun yarn. And some other yarns that I couldn’t get into the bins. I don’t want to talk about it. There’s no problem here. Really.
Cat
Mother of Cats, you have a problem…

The big mess built up this fall as I knitted like crazy from multiple projects organized into separate bins; the leftovers of the projects and new purchases of yarn just began to pile up in bins on the floor of the stash closet. Yarn stored on the shelves became mixed up and some bins were only half full.

Yarn
Time to sort all of that yarn into some semblance of order again…

I’m not going to be too defensive here, but it is hard to sort this much yarn into meaningful groupings.  I like to sort the yarn by weight, and then into some system based on color or other attribute. MacKenzie and I spent a couple of hours getting the bins sorted again and labeled, and then back onto the shelves they went.

Yarn stash.
Look at how tidy all of it looks now! The stack of now emptied bins can be seen at the top right. Finally, I can see the floor again.

This is a lot of yarn, but I have to be honest here: four of the bins are filled with the leftovers of previous projects. You know, yarn scraps. The yarn for scrappy blankets, socks, and multicolored works. I want to make arm warmers that match some of my larger (faded) shawl projects. I’m thinking a big Stephen West marled sweater project is in the future. I just can’t let any of those scraps go… What if I need to repair a project from 10 years ago or knit a new finger onto a pair of loved, but damaged, gloves (true story!)? I’m pretty sure I could weave some nice, funky fabric for pillows…

The rest is new yarn. Bins of yarn. What is in the bins, you ask? Well… here are some of the titles:

  • All the Greys
  • Blacks and Brights
  • Yarns that are Loved Beyond All Reason
  • Autumn Yarns
  • Western Sky Knits
  • Chasing Rabbits
  • Blue/Green Yarns
  • Zauberballs and Gradients
  • Lace Yarn (Lots of Mohair)

Then there are the bins that are just known as “Worsted” or “Fingering” or “Mitts”. Three of the bins are holding the yarn for single sweater projects. Two bins have yarn for Christmas projects. I need all of this yarn. Really, I do.

Which brings me to reflection and resolutions. I love all of this yarn, but it is time to think about reducing the size of the stash. Some of it has been given away, and some of it has already been organized into new projects that I will knit this coming year. I thought of limiting myself to only stash knitting, but that is beyond hope; sometimes you just need that additional perfect skein to make a sweater work.  Endless socks will be arriving as I knit my way through all of the Chasing Rabbits bin. Charity knitting is in my future. Still, how to measure progress?

2018 Knitting Projects
It was a busy year! Shawls, socks, gnomes, and sweaters galore!

Last year I completed 39 projects. Some of them were little (mitts and gnomes), and others were large like the What the Fade?! shawl and the sweaters. I guess I could just decide to complete a number of projects like I did last year, but the problem is the stash; I should focus on the stash!

I have decided to try to knit at least 50 skeins of yarn out of the stash this year. I have been going crazy working out the rules for this… do I measure skeins or grams of yarn. Do I make adjustments for different weights of yarn? Ugh. This is where I am:

  • A skein is a skein. I won’t consider the weight of the yarn.
  • If I buy new yarn that is added to the stash, I need to deduct that number of skeins from my total.
  • Yarn that is bought for a project using stash yarn is neutral as it was consumed in that project. I will just deduct the yarn removed from the stash, not the new yarn.
  • If only half of the skein is used, it counts as only one half! More than half is counted as a skein.
  • I’m going to make a spreadsheet to track the yarn. I can do this!

Last night I cast on a sweater using worsted weight yarn that was lurking in the stash. Hey. It will go fast. I’ll use up a bunch of skeins. I won’t have to buy any more yarn. It’s a plan.

Happy New Year Everyone!

All the Christmas Knitworthies

I’m an addict. Seriously, I need to belong to a support group… oops… that’s literally what my Wednesday morning group meeting is, only those guys support me to buy more yarn, tools, patterns, cookies… Anyway, my name is Midnight Knitter, and I am addicted to knitting. The gateway drug was crochet, but once I got my hands on knitting needles I was gone. I was only eight years old, but the path of my life was already determined; yarn and I would be best buds forever. These days I spin it, dye it, weave it, but mostly I knit with yarn. A lot. A day without knitting is an ugly thing…

Here’s the central truth of my knitting; I will knit many, many sweaters, mitts, dishcloths, and other items of use, but I do hate to part with anything if it isn’t going to a good home. You know, the chunk of knitted love should go to someone who will appreciate it, use it, and maybe even love it a little too. In a word, a person who is knitworthy. Someone who will thank me for the gift. Someone who will give that knitted piece of me a good home. Someone who will take the time to thank me and let me know that they will use their hand knit.

I knitted a lot of Christmas gifts this year. Superwash merino, cashmere, silk and even yak slipped through my fingers, looped over the needles, and grew into fabric that I hoped would bring joy to the person I was creating it for. As Christmas approached the items were wrapped with care, stuffed into boxes, and mailed off to recipients. Little pieces of me, winging off to Christmas trees far away, waiting for Christmas morning to arrive.

Today the first happy picture arrived on my phone. Such a great picture! My whole day was made. Knitworthy!! I asked everyone else for a pic of their presents, and by this evening they had arrived. Look!!

Cousins in knitted goods.
My cousins in snowy southwest Colorado sent the first picture. I was so relieved and happy to see how nice the cowls and hat looked. The cowls are Clinkerbell Cowls by Casapinka, and the purple hat is a Sockhead Slouch Hat by Kelly McClure. Project notes for the cowls are here and here, and if you really want to see some notes on the hat, they are here.
Sister ready for winter.
Then my sister in Oregon sent the happiest picture ever showing off her fingerless mitts and another Sockhead hat. This is her first winter in a colder climate, and those mitts (made of superwash merino, silk, and yak) are already getting a lot of use. The project notes for the mitts have the pattern included.
Daughter-in-law in her cowl.
This evening the picture of the brioche cowl that I made for my daughter-in-law arrived. Her cowl had already been worn for an outing this afternoon, and she told me it was really cushy and warm. The pattern is Purl Soho’s Gina’s Brioche Cowl. Here are my project notes.

Everything fits. Everyone was happy with their gifts, and I’m completely assured that they will put the knitted pieces of love to work. Yay. But wait, there is more. I knitted for the cats this year, too!

Cat and mouse.
My grandkitty Maya attacked her Portly Mouse as soon as I gave it to her. Must have been the catnip.
Cat and mouse.
My other grandkitty Daxter went to sleep with his.

My son reports that the cats have been flinging the mice around his apartment and that they are being well used. Excellent. Even the cats are knitworthy in this family.

See, we knitters (well, those of us who are addicts like myself…) are actually pretty simple. Send us a happy picture and a nice “thank you” and we have gotten our fix and will now produce knitted goods forever.

Because you are knitworthy!

I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday and that the winter will be kind to you.

MacKenzie Speaks: The Christmas Knitting Frenzy Continues…

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat wearing antlers.
Do you see what the Mother of Cats put on me?

Things have just gotten out of control here. The Mother of Cats has been knitting night and day for way too long here. She keeps rushing off to the yarn stash for more yarn (I always help her with that!), printing more patterns off the computer, and casting on new projects. I’ve tried and tried to slow her down, demanded cookies, petting breaks, and trips outside, but she just goes right back to the knitting as soon as I wander off for a nap. I chomp yarn and dragged one project off to hide under the Christmas tree, but she continues to persist. She is determined to knit herself a little Christmas this year.

Christmas Gnome
I asked her to fill this one with catnip, but nope. She put it on the mantel where I can’t reach it. Why is the Mother of Cats so mean to me?

So far she has knitted 4 cowls, 2 hats, 2 shawls, a pair of fingerless mitts and this cute little Gnome that she WON’T LET ME PLAY WITH. Almost everything that she knitted has been mailed away, but the gnome is still here. I haven’t quite figured out how to get my claws into it, but I’m still plotting…

Sigh. Is it Christmas yet? I’m being neglected something awful.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

I am so happy with the gnome and can’t wait to make another one. The pattern is Here We Gnome Again by Sarah Schira. So addictive. The pattern is linked to instructional videos that show you how to do the twisted cables without a cable needle; after a few minutes on YouTube I was doing them like a pro. Here is my project page on Ravelry.

Gnome details.
The cables are what makes the pattern so special. This is the hat; don’t my stitches look great? The great support with the pattern made that happen. 🙂

I’m knitting the last cowl (a brioche baby that is taking me forever!) and shawl now. I think I’ll make it. Sure, I can get this done. No problem. Move along. Nothing to see here…

This evening I downloaded another pattern: chubby mice that will be catnip stuffed toys for MacKenzie and the other kitties in the family. I can polish off some little mice. How long can they take? I just added catnip to me shopping list.

Christmas is for cats, too.

Happy Holidays everyone!

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!

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.