MacKenzie Speaks: All the Little Things

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

I’ve been taking a nap in the sewing room while the Mother of Cats finishes up all of her morning chores.

The Mother of Cats has been going crazy for days now. She knits and sews and fusses over little projects endlessly! It has to do with Christmas, which is strange since she hasn’t put up the Christmas tree yet. I love the Christmas tree: best cat toy ever!! I worry about the Mother of Cats. She has so many projects cast on at the moment the coffee table in the family room is buried. There are project bags in the bed. She left knitting needles on the table where my cookies are supposed to be. She has quilting stuff all over the craft room. SHE IS OUT OF CONTROL!!!

There is a lot going on, and she can’t show off all of it because… Christmas… but here are some of the little projects in progress:

This is going to be a gnome that will be going on our fireplace mantel.
This little chunk of knitted wonder is going to be a pincushion. She is kind of mass producing these little gems. If she filled the pouch with catnip it would actually be useful…
She has also made a bunch of these little wristers, too. They all are very soft and I love to sleep with them. Is she making them to give to me? No! SHE IS NOT!! What is wrong with the Mother of Cats?
She is keeping this cowl in a plastic bag so I can’t drag it into my cat bed. I am shocked that she has resorted to this! The Mother of Cats needs to rethink her priorities. Cowls are for cats, right?!!

The good news is that since the Mother of Cats is knitting so much I am getting lots of attention and naps right by her side. She lets me have a cookie every once in a while, but mostly I am getting lots of wet food meals and she lets me eat whatever I want! Tuna! Liver! Stinky shrimp and fish!! I want it all and she gives me a fresh can twice a day. Maybe the Mother of Cats does pay attention to my needs after all.

She also puts medicine on my ear twice a day, but I kind of like the attention so that is okay.

I’m such  good boy.

Can I have some (not crushed) cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

I am in full production mode now as the holidays are closing down on me. I’m listening to books on tape, binge watching Netflix and mass producing little knitted and sewn items. I’m having fun and the little items are just jumping off my needles now. Here are the patterns:

  • The Gnome is Here We Gnome Again by Sarah Schira
  • The pincushions are from the pattern Chloe’s Cushions by Yamagara.   This is a free pattern, is so fun to knit, and there are three different cushions: must knit faster!!
  • The cowl is Mount Moran Lace Cowl by Selena Miskin. MacKenzie is a fan of the silk/mohair and yak yarns so I do have to keep it bagged!
  • I’m refining the wrister pattern as I work; I’m now on the 4th version of my pattern. I’m thinking that another free pattern is coming your way. I’m making all of them in cashmere blend superwash merino fingering and they are heaven to wear under the cuffs of sweaters! The cashmere is why MacKenzie likes them so much. He’s a cat who knows what he likes!!
  • I still haven’t tried to figure out how to put patterns on Ravelry. Maybe when I get the Christmas gifts into the mail.
  • Did I mention that I have some sewing to get done too? Busy days!!
  • Did MacKenzie mention how much he likes to wear his antler hat? 

Free Pattern: Sweet & Simple Vanilla Mitts

I’ve been working away on developing the pattern for the simple mitts that I mass produce and give away to share with all of you. I thought that I would get it done and posted in time for Thanksgiving, but here I am a day late. Anyway, here they are, my gift to all of you just in time to create some yummy little mitts for yourself or as a gift. I’ve made a PDF of the Mitts and also put the instructions into this post. This is the first PDF I’ve created and uploaded, and it isn’t tech edited, so don’t judge! 🙂

Sweet Simple Vanilla Mitts_Final

Happy knitting.

These simple mitts can be used to showcase a special yarn, are extra comfy due to their deep thumb gusset, and can be used as a stash buster as they only need 160 yards of fingering yarn. Oh, yeah. They will also help keep your hands warm this winter!

Sweet & Simple Vanilla Mitts

Materials:

  • Yarn: 160 yards fingering yarn. The pictured sample was knit using 80/20 superwash merino/cashmere yarn.
  • Needles: Two 16” cable needles, size 1 (2.25 mm), additional size 1 (2.25 mm) double points, or size needed for gauge. The pattern can be easily adapted to use only double-pointed needles or a large cable needle and the magic loop method.
  • Notions: 2 stitch markers, yarn needle, scrap yarn

Gauge: 32 stitches and 12 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Finished Measurements: The mitts have a 7.5 inches circumference and are 6.25 inches long. The size of this mitt is easily adjusted by adding stitches or rows.

Mitt Instructions

Ribbed Cuff 

    • 1.Cast on 56 stitches using your preferred method; I’m a fan of Old Norwegian CO as it creates a nice, slightly stretchy edge. Place 28 stitches onto each of two 16” cable needles. Join to knit in the round carefully, making sure to not twist the stitches. Mark the beginning of the round (BOR).
    • 2.Work K1,P1 ribbing for 8 rounds.

Wrist: K 12 rounds. If you are using the two 16” cable needles you can easily try the mitt on to see if the wrist is the desired length to the base of your thumb; if not, you can add or decrease rounds until you have the length you want. (56 stitches)

Thumb Gusset:

    • 1.Set up round: K2, PM, M1R, K1, M1L, PM, K to BOR.
    • 2.K 2 rounds
    • 3.K2, SM, M1R, K to marker, M1L, SM, K to BOR.
    • 4.K 2 rounds. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until there are 21 stitches between the markers (76 stitches)
    • 5.Next round: K2, remove marker and place the 21 thumb stitches onto scrap yarn, remove 2nd marker, CO one stitch using the backward loop method, K to BOR. (56 stitches)

Palm: Continue knitting rounds until you have completed 12 rounds. Try on the mitt again and add or decrease rounds if desired, keeping in mind that the final ribbing will add ¾” to the total length.

Ribbed Knuckle-Hugging Top: Switch to K1, P1 ribbing and complete 5 rounds. BO somewhat loosely in pattern being careful to not BO too tightly for a comfortable fit. (Note: for a balanced mitt with more coverage you can add 2 more ribbing rounds = 8 rounds total.)

Finish the Thumb: Using the 2.25 double point needles, pick up the 21 thumb stitches from the scrap yarn and place them back onto the needles. Attach yarn, pick up three stitches across the base of the thumb, and complete 5 rounds of K1, P1 ribbing. (24 stitches) BO somewhat loosely in pattern.

Note: the construction of the right and left mitt are identical; make two mitts following these directions. Weave in all ends and fix any gaps at the thumbs. Enjoy!

I gifted these mitts to a friend this summer. She let me know that they sure came in handy this summer while jogging up at Steamboat Springs in our Colorado Rockies.

I knit and gift these mitts to family, friends, other scleroderma patients, and Raynaud’s sufferers that I meet. Feel free to copy and/or share this mitt pattern with reckless abandon. If you would like to knit and sell the mitts, much joy to you, but please give me credit for the pattern.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

MacKenzie Speaks: Snow, Yarn, Orchids, Quilt

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

We have been really busy lately.

The Mother of Cats has been going crazy lately. Busy, busy, busy all of the time, and she is pretty much ignoring me. Okay, she does remember to pet me and feed me and give me cookies (she CRUSHES them up between two spoons before I get them), but is she letting me go outside into the yard any more? NO! She is not! She says it is too cold now.

Oh. That’s why the floor of the garage has been hurting my feet. It is cold. Also, for some reason the outside has turned all white.

The white stuff is also covering up the Thanksgiving wreath that the Mother of Cats and I put on the door. Okay, she put it on the door while I hunted for trouble in the front yard; we still did it together.

Anyway, we are hanging out inside all of the time now, and the Mother of Cats has just been going crazy getting lots of little things done. I mean, literally, that she has been knitting all of these little things that are too small for me to sleep on. Look at this!!

The Mother of Cats has been mass producing little items that she can carry around with her. Last week she lined them all up and did all of the finishing work. I hung out and helped her with all of the little ends of yarn. She really likes that!!
By the end of the morning all three of the mitts were finished.
And she sewed up these fun wash cloths. Did she give me these washcloths and mitts for my bed? No! She did not. They have all been packed away where I can’t get to them. Why does the Mother of Cats do these things?

You would think that the Mother of Cats would have calmed down after getting all of these little objects knitted, wouldn’t you? Instead of settling down to pet me for the rest of the afternoon she went digging in the stash to find more scraps of yarn to make another pair of mitts.

The new mitts had three different colors of yarn. What is wrong with the Mother of Cats?!! Three different balls of yarn at once?

I helped her with all of the yarns while she worked, and really kept an eye on her work. She did take the yarn off of the needles and ripped back last night… Wow! So much yarn! She let me take care of it for her while she knitted it back in. Sometimes the Mother of Cats can be kind of fun.

Tonight we got the mitts done. Look at what a good job I did with the Mother of Cats!!

Between knitting sessions the Mother of Cats and I got the sewing room cleaned up and started working on some of the many quilts that have been waiting (and waiting and waiting) for her to work on them. While it snowed this week we started quilting one of the projects.

What do you think of this? The Mother of Cats works at the machine while I sleep on the cutting table under the grow light for the plants. I love the grow light!! Why doesn’t the Mother of Cats have one of those over my cat bed? Why does she treat the plants better than me?
The Mother of Cats loves her plants almost as much as me! This plant has responded by growing stems that the Mother of Cats says will have blooms someday. Whatever. It’s not like I can eat the blooms, so who cares?

The Mother of Cats has been spending a lot of time fussing over her plants. She makes sure they get lots of light, orchid food and she even ran the window fan in the late summer to make the cold air come into the room with the plants. I don’t like the window fan, but does the Mother of Cats pay attention to my needs the way she should? NO!!

So this has been the last two weeks. Cold white stuff. Lots of little bitty knitted things that I don’t get to play with. Orchids that are no good to me that the Mother of Cats makes a big fuss about. Sewing in the evenings when the I should be getting major attention. It’s amazing that I have survived with all of this going on while my needs were being neglected.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some (crushed) cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • MacKenzie is getting better but I’m keeping him on jaw rest, which is why he is getting crushed cookies and I’m moving him to wet food. He won’t eat his food unless I put crushed cookies on it…
  • When the cold weather arrived a few weeks ago I became consumed with the the need for more fingerless mitts and arm warmers/wristers. I dug around in the yarn stash to find leftovers from socks, and there were so many cute yarns that I just began mass producing mitt after mitt. They are the perfect carry-along in the car and I am finding them easy to do while listening to audiobooks in the evenings. I’m having fun, and if I need a quick gift in the future I am all set!!
  • I have 6 babied orchid plants. I heard that the trick to make them bloom was to subject them to significant swings in temperature in the fall; I live in Colorado where temperature extremes are a norm so I decided to try to make it happed for the plants. I closed off the sewing/orchid room overnight for a couple of weeks with the window fan blowing in cold air and this week I discovered that 5 of the 6 plants are going to bloom. Woohoo!! One plant is putting up 4 blooming stems, and I can see at least 2 stems starting on two other plants. Success!!
  • The washcloth is the Almost Lost Wash Cloth, and is one of my favorites for Christmas giving.
  • The mitt pattern is a simple one that I’ve developed over the years that works well for my cold Raynaud’s hands. I’m working myself up to publishing the pattern in a future post. Please let me know if anyone is interested.

A Month of Crutches and Panic Knitting: The Destash Project Update

It really has been a quiet month for me as I’ve been more housebound than usual as I slowly recover from bursitis and tendonitis in one (thank heavens only one!) hip. I’ve been doing my physical therapy, faithfully using my crutch whenever I have to do any prolonged walking (like going to the grocery store), and even started a gym membership so I can start on the reclined bike for the prescribed 5 minute workouts. It helps that it has been cold and I’ve been very motivated to get some projects done. I cleaned up my sewing room and started on some quilts, joined another book club, and began some serious panic knitting to get my yarn destash project back on track after a disastrous September shopping spree.

I entered the month with only 33.5 skeins out of the stash, and my goal is 50 skeins out of the stash before the end of the year. Yikes! I settled into the knitting chair, started an audiobook and began to catch up on knitting projects every afternoon into the evening.

I had two sweaters that were close to completion at the start of the month: the Climb Every Mountain (upper left) and the Koivua (upper right). I finished them up rather quickly (3 skeins used) and then cranked out the Understated sweater (bottom right) in less than two weeks, using up 6 skeins in the effort. Pretty productive!

This week I pulled out several skeins of yarn that were kind of rustic (not superwash), paired then with some mohair that I’ve had stashed forever and make MacKenzie (my very spoiled and demanding cat) a cushy padded sleeping blanket in three days flat while a series of cold fronts dumped a foot of snow and drove temperatures into single digits. It helped that I used big needles and 4 strands of yarn held together for the project.

Another 7.5 skeins of yarn used!!

I also managed to polish off a couple pairs of socks (very simple, mash-up socks that are winter workhorses…) that aren’t all that much to look at, but they used up another couple skeins of yarn.

See what I mean? These are just simple ribbed socks with a sturdy heel.

I have a couple of other projects on the needles at the moment, a cowl and another sweater that will take me through next month, and then before I know it I will be at the end of the year. The destash project kind of hangs over me so I have been knitting steady.

This sweater got started this evening and should really use up most of my Heilo stash. I have 20 skeins of the Heilo, so I have been saving this sweater back as kind of a ringer for the destash project. This is Barn from the book Knits About Winter (Emily Foden). It will be nice and warm for me as winter weather really arrives in the weeks to come.

This evening I totaled up the skeins used this month on my little spreadsheet (yes, I am that big of a geek!) and to my shock the total now is…

52 skeins!!!

I have made it! The destash goal is polished off and I will be way over it when I finish the Barn sweater. Whew! I can now shift attention to getting more sewing done and maybe even will be able to spin a little or do some weaving before Christmas if the hip behaves itself. Maybe bake some cookies. You know, go wild with the relief of having made my goal. Who knew that bursitis, tendonitis, and being on crutches for a few weeks would turn out to be a blessing in disguise? Every cloud does have a silver lining after all!

I will, however, be staying out of the yarn store until the end of the year! No more slips, no more slips, no more slips (chant along with me, people!), no more slips…

May your knitting be good, your books exciting, your chronic illnesses (if you are a member of that club with me) well behaved, and all your New Year’s resolutions met. Have a great weekend, everyone.

MacKenzie Speaks: My Blankie, My Blankie!!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Do you see this nice yarn that I am rolling around in? Something wonderful has happened this week!

Well, actually, something wonderful happened this week because things have gotten just awful outside. I blame the Mother of Cats totally for what has happened this week.

Look at this! Almost a foot of this stuff is spread out across MY YARD and it is so cold I can’t even put my paw into it for more than a second!

That’s right. It started snowing three days ago and the cold and the snow just kept on coming day after day after day…

If the Mother of Cats really cared about me she would put a stop to this white madness, but NOPE! she did not. Monday morning she did go digging into the yarn stash and found some yarns that are the kind that I like a lot.

Don’t these yarns look nice and warm?
The Mother of Cats decided that it was an emergency to make me a cat blanket, so she started knitting with all four of the yarns held together at the same time.
Hey! This knitted stuff is really nice and warm. I can use my claws on it all I want and it won’t fall apart! The Mother of Cats is really acting nice. I think that she is feeling guilty about all of that cold white stuff.

Since the Mother of Cats was making some knitted stuff that was truly excellent to sleep on I decided to hand out with her all day yesterday while she worked. Okay, it was really cold out in the garage, and there was no way I could frolic around outside, so I had to stay in the house. Of course I stayed with her and helped her knit all day.

Don’t you think that these yarns look nice with my fur?

Because the Mother of Cats was holding 4 strands of yarn at the same time the knitting went really fast. I mean, she must have gotten a couple of inches done between breaks for cookies. I got lots of pets and I held all of the balls of yarn while she worked, and she gave me all of the extra balls to take care of too. The Mother of Cats is so lucky that she has me to help her.

Look at how nice and big this blanket is! It is a perfect sleeping pad for me on the bed.
She even put tassels on the blankie!! I love tassels!

Now I have a blankie to sleep on while the Mother of Cats does stupid stuff like cooking and sewing. I just love my blankie. Yay! For once the Mother of Cats has put my needs first, but it certainly took her a long time to pay attention to how badly I needed this blankie.

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now? Can I have them served on my blankie?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

The finished blanket is really warm, thick and sturdy. It should be able to standup to claws and chomps for a long time.
  • The finished blanket is 3 feet long from point to point, and fits nicely on the bed, chairs, and of course the floor. MacKenzie prefers to have his blankie on the bed, of course! My project notes for this blanket are here.
  • MacKenzie is visibly struggling in the cold and I am sure that he has some type of arthritis. I’m hoping that the warm cushy wool is comforting on old bones; it is in weather like this that I remember that he is a 16 year old cat.
  • I also did the little bit of finishing on my last sweater and got a not-great photo of it since I had to stay indoors. Ta-daa! Here is my Understated Sweater (Joji Locatelli).
I am considering making the sleeves wrist length, but am test driving the shorter version for a few weeks. I am making matching socks and may have enough yarn left over to make wrist warmers that will extend the warmth on my arms on cold days. I love the endless individuality that knitting my own stuff gives me.
  • My project notes for the Understated Sweater are here.
  • MacKenzie is not kidding about the cold. We broke a record here in the Denver area this morning with a new low of 3°F this morning. Brrr!
  • The blankie ate up 7 skeins of yarn! The destash project is looking good!

 

 

MacKenzie Speaks: Massive Slip and Panic Knitting

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Do you see this knitting that I’m trying to get a claw into? There is a story about this hunk of wooly goodness…

The Mother of Cats has been staying indoors for the last couple of weeks avoiding the cold and babying her ill behaved hip, knitting like crazy on ANOTHER sweater. It is almost like she is on fire to get lots of knitting done. Whatever could have set her off?

The Mother of Cats had a MAJOR SLIP and bought all of this yarn last month for her birthday. She needs to get 50 skeins of yarn out of the stash and she did something like this?!!

Bad Mother of Cats. How could she be so undisciplined and go shopping for yarn for herself? She needs to buy stuff for me!!! More cookies! Another little cat for me to chase around!! A new blankie for me to sleep on. She is so thoughtless and self-absorbed.

Of course, as soon as she got this yarn home she began to knit even faster than ever and started neglecting me more then she should. She never lets me go outside anymore, and I am positive that I haven’t been getting as many cookies as I used to. Where are my new toys? I can hardly cope with this lack of attention.

She did leave one skein unwound until the very end of the knitting so I could sleep with it. Do you like how this yarn looks with my fur? This is Chasing Rabbits Merinolux DK yarn in the colorway Colorful September. 
The Mother of Cats has been really selfish about sharing her knitting with me…
But when you get down to it the Mother of Cats really is no match for me. I try to keep a paw on the knitting at all times.

The Mother of Cats finished the sweater today and then washed it (WHY does she do these things? That nice yarn absolutely did not deserve to be dumped into water in the sink! I watched it closely and it never did anything that would warrant just extreme measures…).

But then the Mother of Cats spread the wet sweater out to dry on towels on the floor. Oh. I really like wet wool. Maybe the Mother of Cats did this for me. Maybe she does think about me a little bit.

Would you believe that the Mother of Cats put another layer of towels on top of the sweater so I couldn’t got to the wet wool? WHY DOES SHE DO THESE THINGS? Now we need to wait another day or two before we can take the picture of the finished sweater. Oh wait… maybe we will get to go outside to do that!! Things may be looking up.

I love to go outside.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • I have been making really good progress on the yarn destash project, and by the end of September I had used up or removed 49 skeins from the stash. Feeling really confident on my ability to make the 50 skein goal I went wild and bought that fabulous navy/blue/green yarn from Chasing Rabbits.
  • I also decided to make this cat for a Christmas present and bought some yarn for that too…
  • I needed an assortment of mohair and alpaca yarns to build the buff tabby cat that I want to knit. Because the designer combined three yarns together to create the texture of the cat’s fur I needed several skeins, but the knitting will consume them fairly quickly because… knit three strands at once. I also bought some dark brown and black yarns because… MacKenzie. My cousin, who had just gone to Peru, also sent me alpaca yarn. When the dust settled I had acquired 8 more skeins of yarn for the cat.
  • Suddenly I had put another 16 skeins of yarn into the stash. Oops! Panic knitting time!! I cranked up into overdrive and began on an Understated Sweater by Joji Locatelli last week and cast it off today. My project notes are here. 6 skeins polished off just like that! My skein count is now 39 removed from the stash and I am again hopeful that I will make the goal. I do have another sweater that I want to start soon that should consume lots of skeins, so I am hopeful. Then there will be the Christmas knitting…
  • It is cold and snowy here today, but hopefully I will be able to get a picture of the finished sweater in the next day or two.

All the Caitlins

Alright, I admit it. I have kind of a thing with Caitlin Hunter’s designs right now. I started in May last year with an innocent little Tegna sweater, and then there was another Tegna, and then I decided to try a sweater with some Fair Isle work in it (ahem… I’m talking to you Sipila), and before I knew it I had gone down the Caitlin Hunter rabbit hole. In less then 18 months I have completed 8 different sweaters from this designer, and I’m still in love with every single one of them.

Top row from the left: Tegna, my autumn hydrangea, and Sipila. Middle row from the left: Mums, Koivua, another Tegna, and Nordiska. Bottom row from the left: Sturgill, Marettimo Zweig, and some coneflowers.

A few week ago a good friend from my old knitting group contacted me to let me know that she had a gift for me. What? A gift? This was completely out of the blue, and generated a little guilt on my end as I didn’t have a gift to give back. Since I’ve given up going to my knitting group lately as I’m staying more at home these days to manage my symptoms (more guilt!),  Diane finally popped her gift to me into the mail. Completely mystified I opened the envelope to discover…

A note from Caitlin Hunter herself!!
Diane took a picture of Caitlin writing the note!

Best gift ever!  Diane, thank you so much!! Opening that envelope was a joyful as finishing off one of these sweaters and popping it on for the first time. I am so happy and grateful that you thought of me.

I have one more Caitlin Hunter sweater in my queue that I’m hoping to get done before the end of the year, a Soldotna Crop sweater that I will be making a little longer than crop. I have a bunch of homespun yarns that are just chomping to be made into a Soldotna. I know, I am a little out of control, but I’m having a lot of fun, so don’t judge me. 🙂 If I manage to make my yarn destash goals this year it will be partly due to Caitlin’s compelling sweater designs, so this is a good thing, right?

It’s going to cool down this weekend so I’m totally going to rock one of these sweaters. Have a great (knitting) weekend everyone.