Orchids and Hot Mess Knitting

Today is bright, sunny and warm. No doubt about it, spring is here. Outdoors it is still too soon to plant as there is still another month of possible cold snaps and plant-crushing snow ahead of us, but inside the plants have gotten the message.

I’ve been monitoring the growth of this flowering stem on an orchid for weeks. Yesterday the buds finally opened. So happy with this bloom color!

I bought grow lights last fall and moved some of my favorite plants and roses back indoors for the winter. The plants eventually quit blooming and some of the roses are engaged in mildew/spider mite wars. So far those roses are winning, but there have been some close calls and trips to the garage for treatment and isolation. The orchids, however, have just flourished under the new lights and my jade plants put out so much new growth that I took cuttings and started several new pots. Anyway, never mind the jade plants… look at what happened with the orchids!

Most of my orchids have grown several new leaves over the winter and put out numerous new roots. Really, so many roots that I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Should I put new pots under these roots? Put the orchid into a bigger pot? Transfer it to a huge container and wait to see what happens?

I need to do some internet searches to see if I can propagate new orchids from those roots… I look at this plant and wonder if I should stop feeding it orchid food. Strangely, the orchid that is blooming has the worst growth of the bunch; maybe all of its energy is going into the blooms? Right now it is an orchid mystery and I’m just enjoying the blooms.

The rest of my time has been spent nursing an infected ankle (No, I don’t want to talk about it! Bad ankle, bad!) and knitting away endlessly on projects that never seem to get done. I keep adding new balls of yarn, knitting away, but they are still not done. I am drowning in yarn here, people!

I’ve been saving this Dark Side of the Moon (Alexandra’s Crafts) for a year looking for the right project. A little concerned about how the purple flashes of color will appear I started the V-Neck Boxy (Joji Locatelli) a couple of weeks ago. Hey, it’s best to not overthink these things. Just cast on and do it. What can go wrong? If the purple pools I will just alternate skeins or rip it out … I excel at ripping things out!
It’s a keeper!! I’m not alternating skeins at all and am happy with the effect of the purple flashes. My project notes are here.

I’m now below the V-neck and knitting like crazy on the body. This sweater is really, well, boxy, and each round of knitting takes forever, and the length is growing, but slowly. Once I was below the increases and shaping for the upper part of the sweater it became “knit until you have the length you want” knitting. I keep knitting, and knitting, and knitting, and knitting… you get the idea. I put it aside to hibernate for a little while.

Socks! Let’s do some quickly rewarding socks, I told MacKenzie.

I’ll do these cute Geology Socks with the left over fingering yarn from my Sturgill sweater! Won’t these look cute? MacKenzie agreed that it was a good plan, ate some cookies, and headed off to bed.

Umm… there is a reason they say you should read the pattern carefully before you start knitting. I skimmed the pattern text, found the pattern chart for the size sock that I wanted, and got to work. I love charts! Oops. This chart is not designed to be knit exactly as presented as the pattern is designed to allow individual customization; lots of customization. I ended up ripping out the sock twice! Ugh. The yarn and needles went into time out right next to the V-Neck Boxy sweater.

Looking for instant gratification I started this Sea Swell Shawl using yarn in the colorways of the Sturgill sweater.

Yep. Not sure what I was thinking here beyond that this was a stunning design and I wanted it right this second!! This is another endless knitting project. The balls slowly shrank as I knitted on and on and on in garter stitch broken every now and then with lace. I worried about the yardage of the third color, the wine-colored yarn, as part of it had been used to knit the Sturgill sweater… that ball is only 75 grams of yarn, and I used almost all of the first ball of yarn before the switch to pink occurred. Ugh! Maybe I should use the dark grey from the Geology socks for the third color and make the socks out of the wine colored yarn…

Last night I FINIALLY got to the part of the shawl where you start the third color and I used the dark grey from the socks. It will be great. It will go with more things in my wardrobe. I won’t have to stress about running out of yarn. My project notes are here.
Sitting in bed with MacKenzie and listening to an audiobook I cast on and started the Geology Socks for the third time using the wine colored yarn. Fast knitting as I have now memorized the charts and as everyone knows, the third time is the charm. My project notes are here.

After agonizing over yarn choices, amounts of yarn, and in what combinations I should be using them, I am finally happy with what is coming off of my needles. The only trouble is… there is so much endless knitting ahead of me. Endless knitting broken up only be the little charts of the geology socks.

I’m dreaming of a new project. Hmm… maybe I should go stash shopping. I could cast on a couple of new projects… Nordiska is calling me… I saw a fast cowl pattern at the LYS…

Hot mess knitting is pretty exhausting, but for me it may be an essential part of my creative process. Eventually I will have finished projects. Stay tuned, it is sure to happen someday soon.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. If there is a holiday celebration for you this weekend, I do hope that it is a good one.

The Yarn Destash Resolution: 3 Month Report

Right at the start of this year I cleaned out my yarn stash and made myself face a brutal truth: there is a lot of yarn in there. Maybe more than I can use in my lifetime. Maybe I should start to make a conscious effort to decrease the size of my stash…

Yarn stash.
Behold the yarn stash. 

Thus a New Year’s resolution was born: get at least 50 skeins of yarn out of the stash!! I made some basic rules, started a spreadsheet to track my progress, cast on some projects and got into action.

After 3 months I am happy to report that I have made some significant progress. Really, I’ve done a pretty good job of cleaning  yarn out of the bins above. I’ve actually emptied two bins!!

Details of the mitt.
I’ve made two pairs of mitts, these fabulous mitts above for a Knitworthy niece and a pair of thrummed mitts. Okay, these projects really were fussy and slowed me down. They were a lot of time and work, but will be prized possessions for years to come. Total skeins used: 2
Cowl on wooden bear.
In the gloomy days of winter I whipped out two different cowls, a Clinkerbell cowl and this Dissent Cowl. Total skeins used: 3
Finished sweater on the Mother of Cats.
The big workhorses in stash depletion were two sweaters that took time to knit, but really ate up the yarn mileage. This Sturgill sweater and the Daelyn were both knit from the top down and were fast knitting once I hit the stockinette-in-the-round portions of the sweaters. Total skeins used: 12

Have you been keeping count? The above projects used up a whopping 17 skeins of yarn and there were some other small projects that used up 4 more skeins over the last three months; 2 shawls and a pair of socks.

Did you do the math? So far this year I have knitted my way through 21 skeins of yarn!! I am well on the pace to finish off 50 skeins before the end of the year.

Through all of this knitting my trusty feline sidekick (and taskmaster) has been at my side and on my knitting, kneading the fabric into shape (with his now cut off claws!) and chomping on my yarn.

Cat sleeping in shawl.
Seriously. Every project I knit has pictures of him as close as he can get to the action. This is a shot of him on my Color Study shawl. 
Cat and toy mouse.
So of course I made a little mouse using yarn from the Daelyn sweater.

So there it is. Three months. 21 skeins of yarn used up. Things are going well and I’m feeling pretty good about getting at least 50 skeins cleared from the stash.

It was with this cocky and self-assured “I-am-a-knitting-machine”  attitude that I went to the Interweave Yarn Fest last week and hit the marketplace with my BKB Deb. Oops. You might say that I fell off the “buy no yarn” wagon.

But that is another post.

MacKenzie Speaks: Finished Objects

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Sad Cat
Do you see how sad I an? I was placed into time out for sleeping in the Mother of Cats new shawl. I just kneaded it with my claws a little bit…
Cat sleeping in shawl.
It is a wonderful shawl! Soft and so warm. This shawl has cashmere and silk in it with the merino. Perfect for a little cat nap, but the Mother of Cats was all NOPE!! and took me off.  Why is the Mother of Cats so mean to me?
Close up of shawl.
Do you see those nice colors? They are just perfect with my fabulous coat of fur.
Finished shawl.
I guess it looks okay on a human, but it is much better as a bed for me, don’t you think?
Shawl start
She also had this last little shawl to finish from Christmas…
Christmas shawl.
Nice, Mother of Cats. A little late, don’t you think? Typical human laziness. She should have devoted more time to me since she was going to be late anyway.

It is snowing outside today and the Mother of Cats and I have been working on her plants and have started some new knitting projects. I can’t wait to tell you all about what we have been up to.

After a nap.

And some cookies!

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The first shawl is called Color Study and it is knitted with two different yarns from Western Sky Knits. This is the softest shawl that I now own; the knitted fabric is just fabulous! You can find my project notes here.
  • The Christmas colored shawl is another Close to You and the yarn is made from Brew City Premium Draft Sock in the colorway “Silver Bells” . Fast, easy, simple pattern that I’m love wearing for a little warmth in the cold weather. My project notes are here.
  • These two projects used up 3 skeins of yarn. Only 47 left to meet my goal for the year.

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.

MacKenzie Speaks: So Much Knitting!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

The Mother of Cats has been staying inside for days and never lets me sit by an open window. When she does open the window smoke comes in from outside. It’s because there are lots of fires burning in Colorado right now.  I don’t like smoke all that much, either, but it is so boring when the window is shut.

Hot cat.
Do you see how hot and bored I am?

It is also hot. Really hot. You would think that the Mother of Cats would devote all of her time to helping me stay cool, but she has spent the last week sitting downstairs, watching Netflix, and getting lots of knitting done. Today she went outside WITHOUT ME and took all the pictures of what she has been making.

Socks
She finished both of her new socks. 
Sweater
and a new sweater…
Close to You Shawl.
a little shawl to go on the sweater…
Close to You Shawl
and even another little shawl to go on sweaters that are blue or pink.

During all of this knitting did the Mother of Cats remember to feed me cookies and to play with me EVERY hour on the hour? No, she did not!

Hot Cat
so I made sure that she had to take knitting breaks on a regular basis. Try to knit now, Mother of Cats, and I will chomp your yarn!!

This afternoon the Mother of Cats is getting ready to start another pair of socks and we are all sitting downstairs watching the weather radar on television because there is a big thunderstorm right over us. Rain! Thunder! Hail! What is next? This is completely unacceptable. Maybe she will open a window once the rain is over.

Cat
after I get my cookies, that is…

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have my cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The wildfires in Colorado have been just stunning in their intensity and unpredictable behavior. We need rain very badly; today it arrived in such intensity that we are now under a flash flood watch, and the new weather brought a tornado to one of the fire zones. Truly, we need a break here in the western part of the United States. This picture arrived in my Facebook feed last night showing a fire in the southern part of Colorado. Just heartbreaking. I hope that the rain coming down now helps them.

  • The socks are another one of the vanilla pattern Dave by Rachel Coopey. I measured the little ball of bright pink contrast yarn and I think that I will have enough to do the band at the top of the sock too. Casting on another pair this evening…
  • The sweater is the Throwback Tee by Wanda Eichler. My project notes are here.
  • Both of the shawls are Close to You by Justyna Lorkowska, a free pattern on Ravelry.
  • I am really, really bad at finishing items once I get them off my needles. Last night I finally sat down and took care of all the loose ends to finish a small stack of items and this afternoon I got the pictures before the rain arrived. Now it is raining hard outside: knitting time!

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!

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!