MacKenzie Speaks: WIP Progress

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat on knitting.
I’m dozing on the new sweater. Don’t you think that this color red looks good with my fur?

Last week I reported on the explosion of WIPs that happen as the Mother of Cats abandoned all good sense and cast on one project after another. So many projects going I can hardly find a place to nap! The Mother of Cats has been busy knitting all week long but she hasn’t managed to get even one little project done. Not one! I keep nagging her to knit faster, but it seems that even that isn’t enough to get things finished around here.

Daelyn Sweater.
But she is making progress on her new sweater!

I like this sweater a lot. Every time she puts it down I move in for some quality sleep. The color is nice, but it’s a standout for just being nice and warm with some optimal squishiness too. There is a lot of this yarn in the stash and I’m hoping that she uses the extra to make a new blanket for my bed. I deserve a new blanket!! Never was there a cat more patient and understanding than me!

Mitt
She did get ONE mitt done.  I had so much fun chasing the little furry thrums while she was making this.

There was a little halt in the sweater when the Mother of Cats realized that she needed the needles being used in this mitt to knit the sleeves of the sweater. Oops. She knitted like crazy one afternoon to finish the mitt so that she could go back to the sweater. Now we have only one mitt, and the other one will have to be knitted when the sweater is done. Did the Mother of Cats think of this when she went all crazy and cast on all of these projects? No. She did not. She should listen to me more and concentrate exclusively on meeting my needs. I need cookies more often. I still want a mouse! I keep reminding her every time I check out the garage, but she hasn’t gotten me one yet…

Cowl on cat.
The new cowl is coming right along too. Check out the fun pattern.
Cat wearing knitting.
It really isn’t comfy to wear yet. She needs to take these crazy needles out so I can really cuddle in the yarn. This one is really soft and warm!
Snowy pine.
Look at the icicles in the trees. I wanted to go out to play in the snow, but NOPE! I didn’t get to have any fun.

It got cold and snowed early last week, and the Mother of Cats stayed home a couple of days because she is such a baby. I guess I should be fair… the weather forecast was broken. It was supposed to snow only an inch, and instead there was almost a foot of snow! She did shovel the walks and found these fun icicles in the pines. They made her think of the socks she is making to match her Clinkerbell Cowl, so she also worked on them one evening.

Socks
She is now starting the heel.

That’s it. Do you see all of this knitting that has been going on, and NOTHING is finished. Okay, there was a mitt done, but she needs to do the other one to wear it. Lazy Mother of Cats. She needs to devote herself to one thing at a time. She needs to listen to me more.

She needs to get me a mouse!!

Sigh.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

MacKenzie Speaks: An Explosion of WIPs

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat and knitting.
Look at how far away from the knitting I am! The Mother of Cats is being mean to me.

The Mother of Cats and I have been making really good progress on her new red sweater. I’m in charge of her yarn while she works because the sweater is getting so big that it whaps me in the face while she is working. I think that the Mother of Cats should just be more careful. She is hard to train, but I keep working with her because… cookies!

Sweater
Do you see how much progress we have made?
Sleeping cat
I try to supervise her closely, but frankly all this red is kind of exhausting.

It is kind of hard on me to never be able to sit on the Mother of Cats lap while she is working. This yarn is not as soft as some of the others that she uses, and she says that knitting with this yarn makes her wrists hurt. What a whiny Mother of Cats! She needs to toughen up some more. Maybe she could catch me some mice in the garage… that would make her wrists feel better. Nope. She won’t even consider getting me some fun mice, but she did look around for some other projects for knitting breaks.

Cat and roving.
I reminded her of this really soft roving that her BKB Deb gave her.

That roving is really soft. It would make a great bed for me. Maybe a new cat blanket?! Did she use it for that? No. She did not!

Thrummed mittens.
She used little scraps of the roving to start making these mittens.

The inside of the mittens will have scraps of the roving to make them really soft and warm. She says these are called thrums. I want this for my bed! Why doesn’t the Mother of Cats do what I want? So difficult, the Mother of Cats!

Mitt Cuff.
The Mother of Cats then got bored and started on these wild mitts for her knitworthy niece in California. She wanted to experiment, she said, and needed to work on smaller needles.
Cat paw on knitting.
Ha! There is no way she can keep me off her lap while working on these. There are two balls of yarn! Maximum yarn chomping opportunities!

The Mother of Cats is getting ready to do the thumb for the wild colored mitts, and decided to take a break to plan the knitting on her computer. She says she is thinking. She is just lazy. She hasn’t been petting me and giving me cookies as much as she should. Lazy.

Dissent Cowl
Do you see what she did last night when she should have been catching me a mouse or getting the cookie container out? She started another knitting project! This one is a cowl. Thank heavens it has two yarns. You know how I feel about yarn chomping and extra balls of yarn.
Socks
Don’t forget, she still has these socks going. She takes them with her in the car to work on when she to sit around in doctor offices.

So that is what happened this week. There are so many projects going I can’t keep them all straight. There are more projects than I have cat toys!! Crazy! Completely unacceptable. She needs to go out and get me some more toys, or at least some premium cat nip, or a live mouse at the least.  I really want a mouse! Why can’t I have a mouse!!

I don’t think that the Mother of Cats loves me. She should stop knitting and get me that mouse right away!!

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<I

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

I just couldn’t help myself. The yarn for the new Daelyn sweater is hard on my wrists and the ends of my fingers are getting sore. It is wonderful yarn, but not superwash and I think that the mohair is making is a little rough on my fingers. Never mind, I told myself, just cast on another project for a break.

Things immediately got out of control:

  • The thrummed mittens will be fabulous. The Ravelry project page is here.
  • The colorful mitts for my niece (Which I blogged about a few weeks ago) are being invented using a booklet from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and another knitter’s project for inspiration. I’m working out the Fair Isle chart for the thumb on my computer now. My project notes with all of that information is here.
  • The socks are being made using the patterns in the Clinkerbell Cowl. Think of them as little clinkerbells for my feet. 🙂 My project notes are here.
  • The cowl is the Dissent Cowl. The minute I saw it I knew that I had to start knitting it. Right now the US government is experiencing a partial shutdown, and friends and neighbors around me are struggling because of it. I am also a child of public servants who spent her entire work life working for her community as a medical researcher and teacher, and I dissent!! I absolutely dissent! I plan to wear this cowl as much as possible and hope I don’t have to head off to public demonstrations in the street, but if it happens I will be sporting this fabulous knitted replication of RBG’s dissent necklace. My project notes are here.

I only managed to use up one new skein of yarn this week, but I’m just knitting on and should get some of these projects done eventually. There should be a big jump in the skein count then. Woohoo! Crazy knitting, a serious case of castonitis and stashbusting at its best. It must have been the super blood wolf moon. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

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.

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.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving: Arm Warmer Mitts Pattern

All week I’ve been getting ready for the holiday tomorrow. The turkey is in the fridge (and at exactly 2pm tomorrow afternoon he will slide into the oven!), the pies are on the counter, and the rest of the fixings are patiently resting in the fridge. All the cleaning is done except for the last minute vacuuming (hello… cats!), and even the stash has become organized. Through all of this I have also been churning out long mitts that are also arm warmers. It’s cold now. I need arm warmers!!

Hand in MItt.
Look at how cute these are! This yarn, Western Sky Knits Magnolia Sock, is 10% cashmere. Yum!!

I have Raynaud’s syndrome; when I get cold I lose circulation to my hands, feet and even my face. It can happen really quickly, too. Look at what happened to me while shopping in the produce section of the grocery store last night!

Raynauds
I was picking out fruit and salad from the refrigerated cases when I realized I was cold and my hands were numb. Yep. Raynaud’s attack. I finished my shopping with the sleeves from my hoodie pulled down over my hands.

During the winter I cope by wearing lots of simple layers that can be easily adjusted to adapt to changing conditions. Since I’m a knitter I have lots of socks, hand warmers, and shawls that I can layer on with reckless abandon. Seriously, I’m a walking knitwear advertisement in cold weather. I’m thinking about leg warmers for under my jeans and for my arms… arm warmers!!

The perfect product would be simple arm warmers that could be pulled down over my hands and fingers if I need it (so I put in a slit for my thumb), but could also be worn pulled up my arms to keep my hands free for household tasks like when I’m working with water or cooking (with cold things from the fridge). The warmers also needed to be long enough to pull up my arm, but should also be able to just bunch around my wrist. Snug enough to slide under sweaters, but loose enough to slip over gloves. Multi-purpose warmness. Take that, winter!

So here there are. I’ve made three pairs so far and I have another pair on the needles. I am just rocking these guys.

Arm Warmer Mitts
The yarn with color stripes is Chasing Rabbits Fern yarn. The fern is a little thinner than the Magnolia sock, so those warmers hug my arms better. The cashmere ones are just wonderful to wear while reading (and knitting) in bed. I love these mitts!! My Ravelry project notes are here.

As you can see, I have many things to be thankful for. My hands aren’t great (thanks, scleroderma), but they work for knitting, and because I knit I’m in better shape than most other patients with my condition. I have Raynaud’s, but because I knit I am able to create product that help me beat it into submission. I am knitting in a time of absolutely fabulous Indy dyed yarns that make me happy with every single stitch. The fabulous colors in the yarn mean that even a simple stockinette item looks great. I am thankful. Very, very thankful.

Hey, maybe you would like some mitts too! Here’s the pattern.

Arm Warmer Mitts

Needles: size 1 (2.25 mm) double point or cable needles. I used 2 16″ cable needles and split the stitches between them. Adjust my directions to fit your needle choice.

Yarn: Fingering or sock yarn. These mitts each took about 250 yards.

Right Hand:
1. CO 72 stitches using Old Norwegian CO or any other CO that you are fond of. It needs to be a little stretchy. Join in the round with 36 stitches on each of 2 16″ circular needles. Mark the start of the round.
2. Complete K1P1 ribbing for 12 rounds.
3. Knit rounds in stockinette until mitt length is 4.5 inches from the CO.
4. Decrease: K5, K2tog, PM, K1, SSK, K rest of the round. (70 stitches)
5. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
6. Decrease: Knit until 2 stitches before mark, K2tog, SM, K1, SSK, K rest of the round. (68 stitches)
7. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 once, and then step 6 once more. (64 stitches)
9. Thumb opening: turn the work at the end of the round and purl back on the WS to the start of the round. (remove the mark when you come to it). Turn the work again and knit the RS to the start of the round. Continue turning the work and working rows in stockinette (purl on the WS, knit on the RS) until the thumb gap is 2.0 – 2.5 inches long; check fit on your hand and knit until you like the size of the gap. End with a RS row.
10. Return to knitting rounds. Knit one round, closing the gap for the thumb.
11. Complete K1P1 ribbing for 11 rounds.
12. CO in K1P1 pattern making sure it won’t be too tight around your fingers when worn.

Left Hand:
Complete steps 1-3 as for right hand.
4. Decrease: K 62 stitches (10 stitches left in the round) K2tog, PM, K1, SSK, K to end. (70 inches)
5. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
6. Decrease: K until 2 stitches before the mark, K2tog, SM, K1, SSK, K to end of round.
7. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 once, and then step 6 once more. (64 stitches)
9-12. Same as for the right hand.

Weave in the ends. Add buttons or other embellishments to mark the tops of the mitts if you wish.

Mitts
The finished mitts are 12 inches long, 4.5 inches wide at the top and 3.75 inches wide at the lower (hand) edge.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  May your day be a good one, and stay warm!