FO Friday: The What the Fade?! is done.

Gosh, I just love a good shawl. I like them to add as an accessory, or to wrap up in to stay warm. I’ve been making them in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but last winter I realized that I wanted one that would cover me up to keep me warm while I was reading or knitting. I wanted it to hug my shoulders and stay where I put it, and I didn’t want to have to fuss around with a shawl pin. Something beautiful, but very warm, snuggly, and useful. Brioche would be a plus.

I hunted on Ravelry and decided that I would give What the Fade?! a spin on the old knitting needles. Into the stash I dived, and with MacKenzie’s help I found 6 skeins of yarns that made a smooth fade that would go with almost everything that I wear.

Yarn for the shawl.
Ta-daa! Don’t these look like they would make a great fade?

I’ve been knitting and blogging about this shawl for a whole month. MacKenzie has been exceptionally helpful along the way, and a couple of weeks of cold and rain really hurried things along. Yesterday I finished weaving in all of the ends and steam blocked the final product. Doesn’t this look great?

What’s not to love? This baby is big, and exceptionally squishy. Project notes are here
Knitted fabric.
Here’s a close-up of the details. This shawl scores really high on my happy knitter scale.

Now that it is done, let me sing the praises of this shawl’s design. It is hard to see in the picture, but there is an I-cord edge along the top of the shawl which made it really easy to make the color changes and to weave in the ends. What is even less obvious is how that I-cord edge stabilizes the brioche and garter stitches to make the shawl stay put while wearing it. The bind off is also an I-cord edging, which was tedious to do but so worth it in the finished product.  To maintain the squish factor the final shawl is gently steamed and tugged into shape, which was really easy to do. There are supposed to be tassels, but since I live with ill-behaved cats and want to wear this while sitting around knitting I have decided to leave them off.

Car on new shawl.
MacKenzie is totally in love with the shawl, of course. I found him sleeping on it where I had left it folded up ON THE TABLE!! He must have special wool seeking cat radar or something…

I’ve started two more projects to keep me busy that are more for spring/summer wearing. Look at how cute these are going to be…

Knitting
Behold the start of a Close to You shawl that will be a nice little item to drape around my neck on cool evenings to go with summer tops.  Here are the project notes on Ravelry. The yarn is Magnolia sock from Western Sky Knits. I bought it during my feeding frenzy at their booth when I went to the Interweave Yarn Fest this spring; there was no name on the yarn label, so it is a mystery color.
Knitting.
My newest summer top will be this powder blue Tegna sweater that I’m making out of some soya cotton that I found hanging out in the stash. Here are my project notes on Ravelry.

I fussed over the yarn for the Tegna for quite a while. The pattern sample was knitted with a fingering weight yarn that had some mohair in it, and the gauge called for 22 stitches in 4″ (and 28 rows). I fixated on the fingering weight. I was confused by the size 2 needles that the designer used. Finally I realized that this dk weight cotton yarn had exactly the same gauge on size 6 needles. Okay. This is a nice color, I told myself, and I should do it! I fearlessly cast on and started knitting away with total faith in the label (reckless is my middle name…) and I am happy to report that after 3 inches of knitting I am able to check that gauge and I am spot on!!! Clean living, good attitude, and lucky, lucky stars. I hope that I have enough yarn to make it a little longer than the pattern calls for, but I got so lucky with the stash yarn I really can’t complain.

I found some plum colored cotton/tencel yarn that might work too. It’s slightly heavier in weight, but what the heck. This is a sweater with lots of ease. What could go wrong?

Reckless!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Dreaming and Fading…

I’ve been just cranking on my What the Fade?! shawl for the last week or so since I last wrote about it. Once I had bid the brioche section at the top of the shawl goodbye it was garter time… lots of garter. This is really easy knitting even with the fun of the fading, and MacKenzie and I have just settled in to binge watch Netflix and crank out the rows of changing colors.

Knitting
The shawl is now so big that I can’t get it open for a picture, but you can still get an idea of how it looks. I just finished fading in that light blue speckle, and there are two more colors to go before I’m done. My project notes on Ravelry are here.

Here’s the thing… I’m doing a lot of dreaming about yarn colors and projects while I’m knitting. It makes things worse that I still have the fabulous Western Sky Knits yarns that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last month still out on display to encourage my dreaming. I already blogged about this yarn: check this out if you want to see my fabulous dream-inducing colors! I’ve been reorganizing the yarn stash and going through my patterns between bouts of knitting, and then I kind of slip into a garter stitch, color-induced waking dream state where I match color/yarn ideas with patterns to decide on projects.

So, with no further ado, let me introduce you to the line-up of May and June projects:

Yarn for sweater
The blue tonal Posh Fingering yarn from the Uncommon Thread has been hanging out in my stash for about a year waiting for the right project. I just love this golden brown from WSK, and it also is 10% cashmere. Perfect match! I’m going to make a Zweig sweater from them, and the golden brown will be the lace yoke in the sweater. I can’t wait to get going on this, and every time I think of how cool this sweater will be the garter stitch pace in my Fade shawl picks up.
Yarn and pattern.
I absolutely love this skein of painted cashmere blend yarn from WSK. Don’t you think that it will look great with the Zweig sweater? I love the look of this little shawl, and I’m thinking that I should transform some of the handpainted Christmas yarn in my stash into scarfs like these for gifts. But not now. Now I have to knit all of this fabulous yarn that is calling to me.
Yarn.
These two yarns are my absolute favorites. I want to make a shawl that shows the two off really well, but not too crazy in the pattern. I’m not completely committed to it yet, but I’m pretty sure that I’m going to make Albuquerque Sunset by Casapinka with this yarn. Did I mention that I just bought a light pink summer top? Perfect!
Yarn and pattern.
Last but not least, how about a simple summer tee that will use up some of the cotton yarn in the stash and show off the colors of the shawls? Yep! I’m hoping that these Throwback Tees will just fly off of my needles, because I’m going to need them to go with these shawls!

See why I’m knitting so fast? Look at these fabulous yarns and great patterns! Actually there is a lot more where this came from. I just checked, and I have 25 items in my knitting Queue on Raverly, 1,122 patterns in my library, another 159 patterns in my Ravelry shopping basket, and a world class yarn stash. This is all kind of overwhelming if you think about it too much, which is why it is hard to finalize decisions. The last couple of days things just fell into place and I made a list of knitting decisions and kitted up the yarn with the appropriate pattern.

Then I went back to knitting my fade and dreaming of what to do with the colors I have left over. Dreaming of yarn and the beautiful, useful objects that I can make from them.

What can be better than that?

In case you’re wondering… I am still in the middle of testing to clarify the cause of my worsening scleroderma-related symptoms. This week I head in to see another doctor and will get my echocardiogram done; after my heart is sorted out I can get the pulmonary testing that I need. Right now the discussion is mostly about my heart, but they are still gathering data so no definitive diagnosis yet. Through all of this I’m just rocking my knitting and refusing to worry about what I can’t change. Tomorrow I’m planting more flowers in my garden! Peace on, everyone!

MacKenzie Speaks: Brioche Days

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Talking Cat.
The Mother of Cats has been very unfair to me lately…

To be frank, the Mother of Cats has been out of control for days. She has been working on this shawl that is using a stitch that she calls “brioche”. Lots of brioche. Brioche in color after color.

Yarn for shawl.
All of these colors to be exact. Why does she have to use sooo many colors. Okay, I did help her wind these yarns, which was a lot of fun, but now she won’t let me touch them. She keeps them in a plastic container with a LOCKING LID! What is up with that?
Claws in the knitting.
The second I get a paw into the brioche she goes all crazy on me and makes me stop. She even YELLED at me!

I cannot believe that she is acting this way. This brioche is the yummiest knitting that she has done in quite a while. So squishy. So wonderful under my paws. So perfect for a new cat blanket…

Brioche section of "What the Fade?!" shawl.
See what I mean? There is an ocean of this brioche so far, and if she would just give it to me I would certainly put it to good use.

Nope. She is refusing to let me take a nice nap on this blanket. She let the smelly starfish touch the blanket, but me, her most devoted kitty, not a chance! I am concerned about her priorities. I’m not sure that she still loves me the way that she used to.

Cat being petted.
Okay. Maybe she does love me a little bit.

Last night she finally finished the brioche portion of the shawl and started on the garter stitch section. Garter stitch! I like garter stitch too. The way this shawl is growing there is no way she will be able to keep me off of it. Ha! Take that Mother of Cats!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats: This shawl is the What the Fade?! shawl by Andrea Mowry. My project notes are here on Ravelry. I am proud to announce that I found every single one of these yarns in the stash (with my sidekick MacKenzie helping me dig through bins…) and didn’t have to resort to any shopping to close color gaps in the fade. Yay, stash!!

MacKenzie Speaks: Mixology Finale

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat on knitting.
Do you see what I’m sitting on?

The Mother of Cats finally finished her Mixology Shawl last week. I was so happy! She has been knitting and knitting on this for weeks and weeks, and it is so big that half of the time it was piled on top of me while she was working on it.

Cat and knitting.
See what I’m talking about?

So, of course, as soon as she finished it I was thrilled. Another blanket for me!! The second she had that Mixology off of the needles and folded on the chair I jumped right up there. A blankie! My blankie! I don’t need it blocked at all and I love all of the strings hanging off of it. Thanks, Mother of Cats!! You’re much nicer than Yellow Boy says.

Cat on blanket.
What? This isn’t for me?

The Mother of Cats is so mean spirited. She took my blankie away and dumped it into the sink to soak. In water!

Blocking Shawl
Look at how huge this is.

Then she stretched it out on the floor to dry with towels under and over it. How can she be so mean to me? She knows how much I like to sleep on wet wool. Wet towels, not so much. Sheesh…

Finished shawl.
Today I helped her take off all of the little strings from the shawl and she gave me the pile of scraps to play with. Nice. I like scraps, but I want the whole blankie. I’m such a good boy. I helped her the whole time she was making this thing!

It is done. She says it is not a blankie for me at all, but a new shawl for her to wear to her knitting group tomorrow. It is exactly the right colors to go nicely with my fur, but no, she hasn’t put it back onto the bed for me to sleep on.

Tonight she started another big shawl with lots of colors of yarn. We wound all of the balls this afternoon (cat party time!) and I helped her with the brioche stitches tonight. I’m sure that she couldn’t do this work without me. She is so lucky to have my help.

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The shawl is Mixology by Casapinka. My project notes are here.
  • I have been working on this shawl for quite a while. I had some adventures settling on the colors for the shawl, which I shared in this post.
  • I do need to make the cats another knitted blanket. They actually fight over the one little one that I made for MacKenzie earlier. It is such a struggle to keep them off my knitted goods that I decided to just give them small blankets of their own that can be easily washed.
  • Tonight MacKenzie and I cast on a What The Fade?! shawl. Hopefully it will soon be big enough to cover him again while I’m knitting.
  • Today it was horribly windy here, so I stayed indoors. Here are some videos from the day; my favorite is the porta-potty blowing down the street…

MacKenzie Speaks: It’s Spring!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat and knitting.
The Mother of Cats and I have been knitting like crazy on her Mixology shawl.

The Mother of Cats says that it is spring today. Spring! The birds are coming back! Yellow Boy and I really like birds. Squirrels, not so much. Birds are awesome, though. And bugs. And snakes. We really like to chase snakes!!

Cats bath.
Today the Mother of Cats did more cleaning and I got involved in the spring cleaning too; bath time for Yellow Boy.
Lights on rose bush.
I helped the Mother of Cats put some cute little lights on her baby rose bush that she bought last month. The wire with the lights is perfect for chasing! She has to put the rose on the kitchen window ledge so Yellow Boy won’t eat it. He’s that way.
Knitting.
Oh yeah. We knitted. I guess I should show you how far we have gotten on her Mixology Shawl. It is really getting to be a great size for a cat blanket… She can’t wait to get this done so she can wear it with her new denim hooded jacket. I can’t wait for her to finish so I can use it as a CAT BLANKET!!

I tried to get the Mother of Cats to let me outside to look for birds this afternoon, but she refused to do it. Something about snow on the ground and too much wind. What a silly Mother of Cats! Doesn’t she understand that it is now spring?

Cats.
I’m just trying to take care of Yellow Boy… he hasn’t been able to hunt for bugs for sooo long.

See what a good boy I am.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The project notes for the Mixology are here. If you don’t know this pattern, it is the Mixology Shawl from Casapinka.
  • Sunday night I drove home from a visit with my son through a thunder snow storm. If you don’t know about these things, they are pretty exciting. Lightening, thunder, and downpours of snow. So much snow. We had over 6 inches of the heavy slushy stuff before it was over. The cats were in the closet sheltering in place when I got home. Poor things.
  • The next door neighbors have a dog that has become a ferocious barker over the winter. She even ate a hole in the fence so she can keep a better eye on my yard. Poor cats. It’s going to be a difficult return to the great outdoors when the warm weather arrives.
  • The snakes are little garter snakes; mostly harmless, but surprisingly fast when a cat is hunting them.

Yellow Boy Speaks: Knitting at Winter’s End

Hi. I’m Yellow Boy.

My big brother MacKenzie has been a little under the weather this week, so I’ve been taking up the slack by being especially helpful to the Mother of Cats all week. While MacKenzie has been sleeping upstairs I’ve been helping her with all of her chores. I get lots of snacks and pets, too, since MacKenzie isn’t there to barge in…

Cat on stack of laundry...
Here I’m helping the Mother of Cats with the laundry. I flattened every single stack of clean clothes for her. So much work. Why she doesn’t completely understand that my help is essential for optimal folding?

Now that it is the end of winter I’m moving into prime shedding season. I love to sleep in the sunlight, and then as I run upstairs to check on MacKenzie the fluffs of fur just fly off everywhere. It’s almost like indoor snow! So cool! The Mother of Cats keeps brushing me, but thankfully she isn’t getting enough fur off to spoil my fun.

Shedding cat.
Look at all of this fur! Thank heavens it is finally getting warm enough for me to get rid of all of this extra fluff.

Anyway, since the weather has been warm this week we worked on finishing some little projects.

Sock
Remember these socks? I slept on her legs for two whole days while she got the other sock done. 
Finished socks
Here they are! The Mother of Cats has enough yarn left over to make me a toy mouse. It’s only fair since MacKenzie got a whole blanket earlier this winter.
Arm warmer.
The Mother of Cats also whipped up a pair of arm warmers. 

The Mother of Cats is so strange. I’m too hot and dumping off all of my long fur, but she keeps putting these things onto her arms and feet. Doesn’t she understand that winter is ending? She should come take a nap with me in the sunlight by the back door. Silly Mother of Cats!

Knitting.
She has also been knitting on her Mixology.

That Mixology is so long now it covers me while she is knitting, so I really don’t like it all that much. I had to go upstairs to hang out with MacKenzie since she was so annoying while working on it. Every time she turns the knitting over it flaps over my head. She kept whapping me with the needles, too. No self respecting cat would put up with all of that. I decided that MacKenzie could use some attention, anyway, so I sleep with him when she’s knitting Mixology.

Today she took out that dreadful instrument of cat torture known as the VACUUM and chased us all over the house with it. It was just awful! Every time she turned it off to empty it I thought we were done, but no, she just reconnected everything and vacuumed another room.  MacKenzie likes to follow her around to keep his eye on what she’s doing, but I hid. Best to be safe! When she came downstairs she caught me and carried me up the stairs past the scary machine and I just couldn’t help myself: I squeaked in terror! Can you blame me? The last time she carried me somewhere it was for a bath… MacKenzie laughed at me for an hour after that.

Cat.
Here I am, fully recovered. Whew! What a long day it was.

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The socks are knit from a sock blank I bought at the Estes Park Wool Mart from Bonkers. The sock pattern is Eugene by Rachel Coopey. My project notes are here.
  • The arm warmers are the pattern that I worked out a few months ago when the cold weather started. I didn’t put in a thumb hole this time and the warmers just bunch up around my lower arms and wrists: just what I wanted this time. Here are the project notes.
  • My project notes for Mixology are here.
  • MacKenzie had a cold for a few days: sneezing, cranky, and sleeping. Can cats have allergies? He’s back up to full speed again today and once again is the dominant cat; Yellow Boy has resumed his role of the little cat brother that MacKenzie alternately babies, grooms,  and then roughs up. More yellow fur on the carpet…
  • Yellow Boy doesn’t know it, but he’s going to get a bath and clipping soon… Shedding season comes right before hair ball and matted fur season, and I hope to keep ahead of things this year.

Continue reading “Yellow Boy Speaks: Knitting at Winter’s End”

Mixology Mayhem and Two Good Books

I’ve been wanting to make a Mixology (by Casapinka) for quite a while. One night I printed out the pattern, shopped the stash, gathered up some yarn, and casted on with a sense of reckless abandon. Great yarns, great colors, and I couldn’t wait to see how it would look as I mixed them up in the shawl.

Yarns for shawl.
Look at these happy colors. Won’t these be a lot of fun in the mash-up of Mixology

Okay, I have to be honest here; I just don’t do any swatching. Ever. I’m lazy. Maybe I need instant gratification. Anyway, I like to just throw the yarn onto my needles and launch into the project. Besides, how could these colors not work out?

Knitting
The knitting has a lot of colors changes at the beginning. So far, looking good! MacKenzie: cat toy!! 
Knitting.
As I kept knitting I began to question my choices. Gee, the pink is awfully bright and the yellow variegated yarn isn’t really pulling its weight. Where did all of that green come from and where did the blue go? What can I actually wear this thing with in my closet? I should have asked myself that sooner, but in my defense, I was seduced by the yarn…

I ripped it off the needles and recycled all of the yarn. I was pretty cheerful about it. I had just bought a few new items for my wardrobe in indigo blue and thought that I should build a Mixology that would go with them. Back into the stash I dived…

Yarn for shawl.
There. Don’t these look like they would like to play with my new denim jacket and dress?
Knitting.
Here it is. Mixology 2.0. I love the colors. My best friend said something about it being dark, but I had faith in the colors to come. I went out to look at the shop sample to see how the whole color sequence would work out.

The shop sample was a lot smaller than mine. Like 6 inches smaller across then my knitting. Oh, oh. I was first drawn to the shawl/scarf because of the size of this sample. If it is too big it won’t work right. I checked my needle size and the pattern again. Yep. I was using the right needle. Then I checked the gauge. Holy smokes, who ever checks the gauge on a shawl? Well, it might have been nice if I had…

My best friend Deb helped me rip it all out. She’s fearless that way, and is know for her ripping (and cutting) episodes. Hmmm… what a good opportunity to make some yarn color changes. Since I just happened to be in a yarn shop…

Yarns for shawl.
Behold: Mixology 3.0. I added a couple of Baah! La Jolla yarns that added more variation and bridged the red and blue a little better.
Knitting
I went down a needle size and I’m exactly at the gauge that I want. I just love how the colors are working together. It’s a keeper!

I’m approaching the half-way mark on the shawl now and the colors are working out great. I’m going to get a lot of use out of this, and I learned a lot while going through the process. As you can guess, it has taken several weeks to work my way through the different iterations of the Mixology, and there were some big breaks where I just lost myself into a book for an evening and let the knitting sit in a corner to think about what it had done for awhile.

Books
Meet the knitting break books.

I read a lot, and I’m doing a reading challenge at Goodreads. With a sense of optimism I committed to reading 50 books this year. Book after book, week after week, I have been chomping my way through mysteries, science fiction and popular novels. I rate all of the books at Goodreads, and they almost always get 3 or 4 stars (out of a possible 5). I usually like all of the books that I read, and they certainly keep me entertained, but I long for a book that is well written, with characters of real depth, and a sense of magic. I don’t want to know where the book is going before I get there. I want to feel impacted by the book. I want 5 stars!

Well, during the various Mixology melt-downs and knitting breaks I found two treasures lurking in my Nook and on the bookshelf. Two remarkable books that deal with death and loss, family dysfunction, grief, crisis, and the eventual coming into their own of the young people who make their way through the emotional storms in each book. Seriously, I’ve been up half the night with each of these. I had no idea that they would deal with similar  subjects, but somehow I launched into them back to back, and will treasure each book for quite some time. Here they are: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.  I highly recommend both of these books.

You know, I did all of that knitting with yarns from the stash (until I got to the last version of Mixology), and both of those books have been with me for months. I need to toss the house to look for other treasures. I wonder what is in the fridge, although things abandoned there are usually dangerous. Still, I’m feeling really hopeful as I write this. I’m going to poke around in the kitchen as soon as I finish this. Chocolate. I bet there is chocolate down there.

Cat peaking from under blanket.
Yellow Boy: and maybe you could find us some cat cookies while you’re own there!!

Have a good rest of the week everyone.