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!!!

 

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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.

Fall is Here: Armwarmers and Mitts

This really snuck up on me fast; one day I’m kicking myself for planting cold weather pansies that immediately died in a September heat wave, and the next I’m bringing in all of the outdoor potted plants to protect them from an overnight frost. Here in Colorado there weren’t many transition days and the heat pretty much kept up until the first snowflake arrived. Last week the dreaded word SNOW first appeared in the nightly weather forecast and I immediately dragged out a couple of projects that had been languishing over the summer.

Fimgerless mitts.
Little handwarmers made from a yak blend yarn.

These fingerless mitts were made for an old student who was badly injured last month in a accident on her way to work. She is still on crutches, the cold weather is on the way, and I simply didn’t quite know what to do for her other than contributing to her Go Fund Me campaign. Oh yeah. I knit! I was able to produce some soft comfy mitts from some Yakity Yak yarn (Greenwood Fiberworks) in the stash. The mitts are now hers, and I hope so much that she continues to make an amazing recovery.  The project notes can be found here, and I wrote up the pattern that I used for these simple mitts in an earlier project’s notes that you can access if you want to make some of these too.

I really love mitts, but sometimes I just need more: arm warmers!! I’ve been adapting the Ärmelitas pattern from knitcats Design and for the latest version I decided to try tubular cast on. Oh, my. It can be a little confusing, but with some great help from the great tutorial on Purl Soho‘s site I was up and running fairly quickly. Look at all these tutorials that Purl Soho has posted! Knitting gold!! I bookmarked this right away, and maybe you will want to also.

Tubular bind off.
The tubular cast on was so nice and tidy I decided to look for tubular bind off. Back to YouTube I went and the one that worked for me was this tidy sewn version that I found at New Stitch A Day. I was befuddled at the start, but after 3 or 4 repeats of the steps I was up and running. 
Finished arm warmers.
Here are the finished arm warmers. See how nice the edges are? Tubular, totally tubular.

 

Warmers on my arm.
I wanted to warmers to be a little loose on my arm (comfy and warm) and long enough to stay put on my upper forearm. Check. Theses guys work.
MacKenzie and the arm warmer.
And these arm warmers are cat approved. There, what more would a knitter want?

I’m really happy with these arm warmers, but I’m thinking that I want to make the ribbing a little longer at the top of the warmer to help it stay in place at the top of my arm. I wrote my pattern adjustments and you can find them on my project notes here.

Sunday the forecast is for SNOW, and this time it will probably be more than a few flakes. I am knitting like crazy on my latest sweater and I wound more yarn for another set of arm warmers. I’m starting to like tubular cast on. Someday I may be able to do it without staring at a computer screen while I work.

Have a good weekend everyone and don’t forget to knit!

p.s. I’m knitting a Zweig sweater from these yarns. I absolutely can’t wait to show it off!!

Yarn
See, won’t this look great? I love how these colors go together.

MacKenzie Speaks: We made a Sipila!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

This has been going on for far too long, and I certainly haven’t been getting all of the attention that I deserve, but I am happy to announce that the Mother of Cats and I have finally finished her Sipila sweater.

Cat and knitting.
Do you see how nice her stitches are? That is what superior feline support can do for you!
Sipila Sweater
and here is her finished sweater. 

The picture would have been better if she had included me in the shot, but sometimes the Mother of Cats can be so selfish.

Sleeping Cat.
But she is letting me sleep with one of the left over balls of yarn. Maybe she isn’t too bad after all.

It’s late, so we are heading back to bed as soon as I get my cookies.

I’m such a good boy.

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This sweater is Sipila by Caitlin Hunter. You can find my project notes on Ravelry here.
  • I was concerned about the floats early on in the knitting so I switched to catching all of the floats while knitting. It slowed me down, but I think that the fabric has more even stitches and I won’t have to worry about snagging floats while wearing the sweater. You can see how nice the fabric is in the picture of MacKenzie above. That was before blocking.
  • Yarn
    The Orchid yard was knitted in order with the skein on the left used as #1 and the one on the far right used at the bottom of the sweater.
  • I opened all the skeins and organized them in the order of brightest to darkest. I started the sweater using the brightest skein in the yoke, and then faded the skeins together using helix knitting.
  • I knit 6” of stockinette on the sleeve, and then another 32 rounds instead of starting the chart with the repeats of rounds 1-8. The chart was started with round 9 and the sleeve was finished following the directions. The length is perfect!!
  • The 4th skein was too bright at one end of the skein, and too dark at the other for the 2nd sleeve, so I had to helix knit all the stockinette section with the remains of the other three skeins to make the sleeve match.
  • I finished the sweater at the length suggested in the pattern, but I was unhappy with the length. I went back and ripped out that ribbing and then added another 2.5 inches to the body of the sweater using the ripped back yarn and the dark end of the last skein blended  together with more helix knitting. The final ribbing was done with the darkest skein of yarn.
  • The finished sweater is exactly as long as my sleeves. How cool is that?
  • I absolutely love the fit of this sweater!!

MacKenzie Speaks: Sipila Progress

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat.
Do you see what I’m sitting on? The Mother of Cats and I have been working on the Sipila sweater.

I’m not going to mince words here… I lost my brother Yellow Boy and I can’t find him anywhere. I can’t believe it! I’ve checked everywhere: the closets, under the bed, all the corners downstairs, and in the garage. The Mother of Cats has been really nice and patient with me, but I don’t understand why she hasn’t brought him home yet. I’ve been so upset about losing him that I can’t even eat cookies anymore!

I can, however, eat the special soft food that he left here. The Mother of Cats is letting me eat a can of food every day. She put out all of my favorite toys and even found me some new ones. She bought new catnip and I have a pile of crunchy papers to play in too! Usually she ignores my needs, but lately she has been fairly attentive. I worry about how things have changed, and I’m sticking to the Mother of Cats like a wet hair ball these days. I’m not going to lose her too!! For the last two weeks we have been hanging out together and knitting away on her new Sipila sweater.

Cat chomping yarn.
Okay, there has been some yarn chomping…
Cat and knitting.
… and extremely attentive feline support. Can you see how neat those stitches are? That’s what superior cat supervision can do for you!
Sweater in progress.
Look at far we have gotten!! 

The Mother of Cats really likes this kind of knitting: two colors at once. I’m a fan too as there is twice as much yarn to chase while she’s working. We are making good progress and should have this sweater done in another week; the Mother of Cats is already talking about winding some yarn for the next sweater. Woohoo! I love yarn winding time.

Sleeping Cat.
But that is tomorrow. Right now I’m just going to grab a nap with the little ball of yarn that the Mother of Cats gave me for my own. She says she will make me a mouse out of it. Huh. If she really loved me she would have knitted it already. Strange priorities, Mother of Cats. Cat needs come first!!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies… err… canned kitty food, now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • I just made it down to the colorwork section of the second sleeve. This sweater is a joy to knit and I am thrilled with the fit. I’m going to have half a skein of the magenta yarn left over so I’m considering ripping out the ribbing of the body and adding a few inches to the body. My project notes are here.
  • The next sweater will be Zweig. What a shock: another Caitlin Hunter sweater. This is definitely the year of the Caitlin Hunter sweater for me.
  • I’m debating the wisdom of getting a kitten for MacKenzie. (He is an Ocicat, and in general they need a lot of stimulation; the vet advised me to get him a kitten or puppy right away.) He is pretty needy, but he is also 15 years old. I’ve decided to give things more time.
  • Cat and author.
    Life has been a little sad the last two weeks,  but good cuddles and the zen of knitting are getting us through it.

    Have a great (knitting) weekend everyone!