MacKenzie Speaks: Meet the Danzig Shawl

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat
Do I look a little grumpy here? It’s hot!!

The Mother of Cats has been hard at work getting all of her knitting projects done. The last one in her WIP basket was this shawl that has been dragging on for weeks.

Cat and knitting.
I don’t understand why she is so slow sometimes. I help her as much as I can…
Shawl
Here is her shawl the day that we started it. Nice colors, huh. She got that pink yarn for her birthday last year, and the gray is some yarn that she had in her stash. She won’t let me play in the stash room; I think that she needs to learn to share her toys a little better, don’t you?
Cat sitting on shawl.
We finished knitting the shawl early this week and once it was blocked (WHY does she cover it with towels while it is blocking? Doesn’t she understand how yummy it is to roll around in wet wool?) we took it outside for pictures. Gosh, this is nice and squishy. Too bad it isn’t wet any more…
Stitch Detail.
Look at how cool the stitch is in the colored sections. The Mother of Cats had to keep turning the knitting back and forth to make the “pebbles”, which was exciting for me as I got to whap the yarn every time she made a turn. She called it “short rows”. Whatever. I called it exciting.
Detail of knitting.
She even used a row of the “pebbles” at the edge of the shawl. Yummy!
Shawl
Here’s the big view of the finished shawl. Hmmm… wouldn’t that look nice in my cat bed?

 

Cat in garden.
So that’s it. She’s taking a little break from the knitting while she gets gardening and other stuff done. Me, I’m hanging out in the cat mint staying cool. Maybe a little later I’ll visit with the Enemy Cat from next door… NOT!! Yellow Boy put a claw into him a couple of days ago and that was the last time he come over the fence into OUR YARD!! Good riddance. I must say, I was a little shocked by some of the language that came out of Yellow Boy’s mouth. Who knew he was a secret brawler?

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

Shawl

  • I am very happy with the size and fit of this shawl. After knitting three “Find Your Fade” shawls this one was the perfect size for easy wearing. The pattern is Danzig by Justyna Lorkowska,  and my Ravelry project notes are here.
  • MacKenzie was an adult when I adopted him, and he had picked up quite a few bad habits before he came home with me. Actually, he was a handful, and clearly needed more stimulation than I could provide. I found him a Maine Coon kitten to be his companion, and while MacKenzie is my pet, Yellow Boy is MacKenzie’s baby that he grooms and fusses over. Yellow Boy is easily frightened and has been know to wail from time to time. Who knew he would put Enemy Cat into his place?
  • I started a new sweater a couple of days ago and spent time organizing yarn for the next massive knitting project, the Marled Magic Sweater by Stephen West. He suggested that at least 1500 grams of yarn be gathered up to use in the shawl. Done! I’ll show it off in my next post.
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Cleaning out the WIP basket

There is nothing more that I like than working my way through a big project. What can be more exciting than finishing that new sweater or gigantic, endless, Find Your Fade shawl after watching it slowly grow day after day, week after week from a pile of skeins to a beautiful finished project? The drama of the whole thing: is there enough yarn, will the colors go together, is my gauge correct, yarn chicken, and all the other questions and worries of the large project are part of the fun.  A little stressful, but a labor of love, each and every one.

So, it was a little bit of teeth gritting that I pulled out the basket of unfinished projects (UFOs) down from the top of the bookshelf a couple of weeks ago.

Basket
My goodness. Now I know where all of my knitting needles have been hiding out. 

I wrote about cleaning up the UFO pile a year or so ago and got trolled by people who hoped I was writing about aliens. Nope. I guess I should follow Ravelry’s lead and call them WIPs. Fine. This is the WIP (works in progress) basket. It is full of smaller knitting projects that should get done in a couple of knitting days each. Check it out:

WIPs
There is a half pair of socks (I did cast on the second sock, but I still put it aside…), and three pairs of fingerless mitts. 
UFOs
I also found a scarf that was half done and a cowl that had just been cast one night when I was curious about how that great Night Hawk colorway from MadelineTosh would knit up.

Well, how long can all of this take? Time to jump in and clear the basket, I told myself. I pulled out the socks (hey, it was snowing outside!) and got started.

Yarn Chomp
MacKenzie helped as much as he could. 

Now, after two weeks of steady work and cat entertainment I am happy to report that I have made real progress. The basket is almost empty, needles and stitch markers are returned to their proper places, and I have gained a number of small knitted accessories.

Finished knitted items
Here they are. I have finished a shawlette, the socks, two small pairs of fingerless mitts, and a pair of long beaded fingerless mitts. 
Socks
The yarn in these socks made them turn out really cute. This simple pattern for a vanilla sock with deep ribbing at the top and a traditional heel is called “Dave” by Rachel Coopey.
Mitts
The long mitts are Akiko MItts by Sivia Harding and the short mitts are my own simple “Scleroderma MItts” pattern that I recorded in the project notes here.
Shawlette
The finished shawlette is the Riverbed Shawlette (this is MacKenzie’s favorite) by Grace Akhrem. I wore it this week to my knitting group and it was quite a hit. 

Now I’m down to the last item in the basket, a cowl. Wow. I thought that this may take me all month, but I should have the basket cleared by the end of the week. Well, there was that one pair of socks that I couldn’t help casting on while I was working on the WIPs, but still, the end is in sight.

Excellent. I have some large projects all kitted up and ready to go.

Wait until you see these sweaters and shawls I’ve got lined up!

Have a good weekend everyone!!

Shawl Study: A Trio of Fades

 

What can I say? A few months ago I was sucked into the “Find Your Fade”  (by Andrea Mowrey) vortex and spent days and days dreaming of color combinations for shawls. I shopped the stash over and over putting different color combinations together. I agonized over strategies to make the colors work in the shawl; should the colors be connected across the shawl (like a quilt) or just cleanly feed into the next color in the sequence. What would happen if I used monochromatic colors? Would it work to use colors more than once to continue to anchor the shawl? Why did I not have more speckled yarn in my stash?

This got to be really bad. I would get out of bed in the night to hunt for a skein that I suddenly thought about. I settled on color sequences again and again only to abandon some of the yarns that I loved the most. I took yarns to the LYS to get help from my friends. More skeins were bought and I finally settled down with three sets of yarn hopping up and down demanding to be made into one of these shawls.

I took pictures of the yarn sequences and wrote the knitting order onto the labels of the yarn. I started the Ravelry project pages and committed to the Fade study project. Early in February I cast on the first one, and late last week I finished the three shawl project.

Shawls
Here they are!

So what did I do different with these three shawl? Check out each shawl’s story below.

Shawl Collage
The first Fade out of the gate…

This shawl really put me through the wringer. I had some great fall-colored yarn from Dream in Color, so I decided to use it to center the shawl. Every yarn that I used matched to the Dream yarn (the middle yarn between the red and purple in the close-up shots above), and to make it all work I used two skeins of that yarn to make two sequences. I started knitting with a lovely brown, and then ripped it all out, bought a dark red Tosh merino light called Heartheat, and used that instead. Later on I tossed out another yarn that I just loved and used the Heartbeat again in the middle of the shawl to keep the continuity with the Dream yarn. At the end of the shawl I had used only 5 colors of yarn and tossed out even more contenders. I think I needed to stop thinking about the concept of a “Fade” and did better concentrating on what would make a truly lovely and useful shawl for me. My Ravelry notes and yarn sequence is here.

Shawl Collage
March knitting found me hard at work on the second Fade.

The second shawl was so easy to put together. I had three amazing silk/alpaca yarns in  shades of gold, brown and deep red that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last year. They went nicely together, but they were really monochromatic. Digging in the stash I quickly found a blue that wanted to play with the golden-brown yarn, and the dark gray yarn linked cleanly to the blue. Great. I had 5 yarns, and wasn’t quite sure how to link them. Oh, wait. Speckled yarns!! I looked at Tosh Merino Light online and realized that skeins of Yoko and Marfa would make the transitions work cleanly. Ta-daa. Not a gradient, but every yarn gets along with the ones next to it. This shawl is great with almost everything that I wear, and even better I never questioned my color choices while knitting it; no struggles or dashes back to the LYS. My Ravelry notes and the yarn order are here.

Shawl Collage
April knitting was the fun spring/summer shawl. 

My last shawl is the one that is most like a “Fade” in that the colors cleanly connect from each skein to the next, but there is a lot of continuity between the colors across the shawl.  The difference in the textures of the shawl yarns became another type of study as I knitted. The Alegria was wonderfully squishy and bouncy. I loved the way the Dream in Color Jilly showed off the lace (the detail in the picture above with MacKenzie’s paw on it) and while the color of the Hedgehog Fibers yarn was beautifully rich, it was a nightmare to knit as it had the life of string and was splitty to boot. The Ravelry notes and yarn order is here.

So, there they are.

Shawls
Now that you’ve “met”each shawl, here they are again without those flowers in the way. Each is unique and I’m so happy that I made all three of them. I am, however, done with shawls for awhile.

Yep. Time to get to work on finishing up all my little (emphasis on little) abandoned projects that have been lurking in a basket waiting for me to get back to them. No more shopping the stash for awhile. No decisions. All I have to do is pull out a bag with the yarn, pattern and half finished item and get to work. Even better, these are quick to finish projects like socks, mitts and scarfs. Woohoo! Compared to knitting these shawls it is almost like instant gratification.

MacKenzie is looking forward to having my lap all to himself again, too.

Have a great weekend everyone.

MacKenzie Speaks: The End of Fades

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat  with knitting
I’ve been helping the Mother of Cats knit this shawl for ages…

The Mother of Cats was sucked into the “Find Your Fade” vortex weeks and weeks ago. Yellow Boy and I did everything that we could to save her, but it was hopeless. She has been neglecting us for forever while this has been going on. It has been awful! So far she has knitted up THREE of these shawls.

Cat sleeping on knitting
Do you see how stressed I am?

Finally, finally she finished up all of her silly knitting and took the shawl outside to grab some pictures yesterday.

Shaawl
Not bad for a human, right? I think that she picked some nice colors for this one.
Shawl
I know that humans can get distracted by my wonderfulness… so here’s another picture that she took (ahem) WITHOUT ME!! I don’t think that I get the respect that I deserve. Anyway, here is the shawl. I just can’t understand why she pushed me out of the picture,
Cat on shawl
…so as soon as she put it down to take some other pictures I moved right in for a little nap. Wow. This is sure nice and squishy. Don’t you think that these are nice colors with my fur? These fade shawls are really nice and big, just right for my cat bed, but they take up ALL the room on her lap while she is knitting them. Seriously, all of this Fade knitting has Yellow Boy and me a little concerned. It is time for some little projects again.

You can imagine our relief when the Mother of Cats told us that she is done knitting Fade shawls for now. Finally!! We have made it to the end of the Fades tunnel. She got out her basket of unloved and abandoned old knitting projects (she calls them WIPs; Yellow Boy thought that she was talking about a new kind of kitty treat and came running. Boy, was he disappointed!) and told us that she would be finishing some of these up before she starts a new project. Right. We’ve heard that before.

Basket
This is her basket of little projects that need finishing. She keeps it up high on top of the bookcase so I can’t sleep in it. Why does she do things like that? Doesn’t she love me?
Snow on flowers
Look at what happened overnight!

Today there is too much snow on the ground for us to go outside so we are hanging out inside again. The Mother of Cats is knitting on a pair of socks from her basket and Yellow Boy and I are playing on our new cat tree.

Cat Tree
Look at this!

About time we got a new cat scratching post!! I’ve been forced to use the knitting chair for weeks, and the Mother of Cats just gets upset every time I put a claw on it. She is so emotional. I’m glad that she finally understood that she needs to focus more on my needs.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This is the third Find You Fade shawl that I’ve knit. The project notes for this one are located here on Ravelry.
  • My first Fade was done in fall colors. You can find it here.
  • The second Fade, one that would look nice with denim, was finished last month. Its Ravelry notes are here.
  • I am now finishing a pair of socks I started months ago. I am going to work through the WIP basket for sure. Really. I’m totally going to be able to ignore that shawl yarn that I kitted up this week with its pattern… I am strong!
  • Should I show off all three shawls together in a post?
  • I also did some beading this week. Wait until I show you my BKB’s bead stash!! (BKB = Best Knitting Buddy)

…and another baby Fade enters the world.

It has been just crazy for the last two weeks. We have had really warm weather, blizzard warnings, a broken water heater, more medical testing, and another trip to the hospital. March has been a bad, bad boy. Tomorrow March will be going out like a lion as there is a rather major snow storm on the way that promises to gift us with either 2 inches or a whole foot of snow. As usual for this time of year, we won’t really know for sure until the snow stops falling. One thing is for sure, the roses are going to come out of this looking a little worse for the wear…

I have been dealing with all the stress and commotion in my usual manner; lots of knitting.  My latest “Find Your Fade” shawl has been growing at an impressive rate.

Cat helping knit shawl
The shawl became so large while I was working on it that I just spread it over my legs to make a nice bed for MacKenzie (ever helpful as always) to lie on while I knitted.
Shawl
By yesterday morning I was into the last section of the shawl. Look at those colors!!
Finished Shawl
Tonight I got it done while watching the evening news. The light is a little dim as I took the shot indoors, but you can still get a good idea of how the colors play together.
Shawl
Here is the other side of the shawl. I love, love, love this. My project notes can be found here.

Tomorrow I will be (surprise) casting on the start of a third Fade shawl just in time for the snow storm. This is addictive. I just need to see how the colors will go together.

MacKenzie, how do you feel about purple, magenta and turquoise yarn?

MacKenzie Speaks: Still Fading After All These Weeks…

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

The Mother of Cats is still going off and leaving us for a few days at a time, and when she comes home again she spends her days lying around with a heating pad on her knees knitting away on another huge shawl.

Cat and Knitting
Do I look happy here? No, I do not!!!

See what I’m talking about? I can barely squish myself onto her lap with all of that yarn in the way. I mean, I ABSOLUTELY need to be on the heating pad, and I also expect to knead my paws on the balls of yarn, and you know that knitting without chomping hardly counts at all. Right? You’d think that if I purred loud enough the Mother of Cats would understand and she’d make allowances to ensure I had enough room, but she just keeps whapping me with the shawl. On my head!! Sure, she always says that she is sorry, but really, don’t you think that she should concentrate on my needs and put the knitting well off to the side? Is that too much to ask?

Shawl
You have to admit that the shawl is growing pretty quickly. This is the way that it looked this morning. By this evening she had started on the 5th color. Yellow Boy and I were playing outside so we missed a lot of the knitting with that gold color. I really like that yarn, too, as silk and alpaca are kind of my chomping favorites. Have you ever tried yak? That is pretty yummy too…

While we were outside taking pictures we checked out the garden.

Cat and garden ornament
The garden squirrel come through the winter in good shape, but the flowers are still all dead looking.

I think that the Mother of Cats kind of misses the flowers because she planted some outside in the big planters this week. She says that these flowers can survive a snow storm. Snow? NO!! Cats do not like snow!

Flowers
Aren’t these flowers nice? They aren’t the kind that we like to eat, but at least she is trying. We really want the catmint to start growing…

I think that these are her favorite colors because she put together the yarns for ANOTHER one of those Fade shawls and it looks a lot like the flowers!

Yarns for a shawl
Somehow she thinks that she will wear this shawl in the summer. It will look a little like her garden. It would be better if it looked like mice, garter snakes and cat cookies. Just saying…

The Mother of Cats has clearly lost her mind. Doesn’t she understand that all things should be done in moderation? (That doesn’t apply, of course, to cat cookies…) When is she going to make my cat hoodie? How about some socks? I never have any trouble sitting in her lap when she is knitting socks. She has these UFOs sitting around the house, but she is just ignoring them too. Maybe she could just read books for awhile with the heating pad on her knees so I could just hang out with her for a couple hours at a time. The heating pad works better when I’m purring on top of it…

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

I continue to spend a couple of days a week with my sons helping out, who are dealing with ongoing health issues. It’s hard on the kitties, but such is life.

The shawl pattern is “Find Your Fade” by Andrea Mowrey. My project notes for the second shawl in the series are here. Each of the shawls lets me explore a different way to approach the colors and how I let them fade across the shawl. I’m having fun and busting my stash at the same time. Sorry MacKenzie!

March and April are the snowiest months of the year here in Colorado.  Just because it is nice and warm today doesn’t mean it won’t snow next week… Sad news for cats.

MacKenzie Speaks: Fade, Fade, Fade!!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat

The Mother of Cats has been knitting for DAYS AND DAYS on her new shawl. The same shawl. It is boring and endless, and since it is so large it has been really hard for me to get on her lap to yarn chomp help her. She’s been ignoring me and Yellow Boy, to be blunt.

It is with great relief that I can report that she finished the darn thing today and took it outside to take pictures of it.

Cat with Shawl
What do you think of these colors? I think that reds and grays look better with my fur, but the purple is OK I guess…

She acted really, really silly with this shawl. I mean, she completely ignored me as she wrapped herself in the shawl, ran around the yard and draped it on the fence and the tree trying to get nice pictures. Did I mention that the shawl is extremely large? (How do you like my word choice there? I’m a very smart cat!) She kept flipping parts of it around and when I swatted at tried to touch it she just persisted in jerking it away from me. I was trying to help her and she actually CHASED me off. I wasn’t even allowed to go into the front yard to take those pictures with her. I tried to pull on one corner of the shawl to help arrange it on the fence, and she completely over-reacted. If she hadn’t tried to pull back on the shawl it wouldn’t have gotten stuck on my claws. Hey, it was all her fault! I’m a good boy!

Shawl on Fence
Here’s the finished shawl hung on the back fence so you can see all the colors.
Shawl in Tree
and here it is hung in the tree out front so you can see the lace sections. Can you see me crying to be let out the front door? No, you can’t. She didn’t even include me in this photo.

Whew. Thank heavens she is finally done with this shawl. She should now start knitting things that I like. Maybe a catnip mouse? My little hoodie? Something small that will not interfere with lap sitting (yarn chomping) time?

Yarns for shawl
This is the yarn for another of the shawls. She started knitting with the dark gray yarn yesterday.

No!! She cast on another one of these giant shawls with lots and lots of colors. NOOOO!!!! Why doesn’t she pay more attention to my needs? Doesn’t she know that I am a unique cat with high maintenance needs? I need lots of petting, toys, catnip and play time.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

The shawl is a Find Your Fade by Andrea Mowrey. You can find the project notes here. I was struggling to make the colors “fade” across the shawl, so I used two skeins of the same September 2015 colorway (from the Dream in Color Club) to make connected “fades” on each side of the shawl. When I wear the shawl all the colors will come together (I hope). I am really, really happy with the final product; also want to point out that I got the purple yarn in and it looks great!! MacKenzie doesn’t know this, but I also have started a collection of yarns for a third fade shawl to follow the one that I started last night. So many yarns and colors, so many ideas on how to combine them. What a great stash buster this is, too.

Sorry, MacKenzie.