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: Done, Done, and Done!!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat.
Do you see how innocent I look? I ran out the front door when an Amazon package arrived, forced the Mother of Cats to chase me down in her bathrobe, and then informed her that I needed cookies. What? Cookies are for cats!

A few week ago the Mother of Cats lost control of her stash and cast on project after project. There was an explosion of  WIPs. The project bags and plastic containers were everywhere. I was constantly in trouble for knocking things off the table. So excitable, the Mother of Cats. I don’t think that she has her priorities aligned correctly. Cats are first, always. Everyone knows this!

This week she pulled herself together and got things done. Look at this!

Cat and knitting.
I helped myself to a little yarn chomping while she tried to finish the sleeves of her sweater. I kind of like this thick Brown Sheep yarn because you can get a good chomp on it!
Finished sweater.
Monday the Mother of Cats weaved in all of the ends and the sweater was done! Mohair and wool: perfect for cat naps. The Mother of Cats is thinking of knitting me a little blankie from the extra skeins.
Cowl on author.
Tuesday she finished her new cowl.
Cowl on wooden bear.
By Wednesday the cowl was blocked and finished. I think it looks better on the bear, don’t you?
Cat and sock.
Wednesday she concentrated on getting a sock done and I once again helped myself to some chomping. This thin yarn isn’t as fun to chomp and the Mother of Cats actually YELLED at me to stop. What is wrong with her? Yarn (and cookies) is for cats, right?
Socks.
Tonight they came off the needles and she did the finish work. Look! Here they are… done!!

Wow. Suddenly the Mother of Cats needs to clean up the coffee table by her knitting chair. There are empty needles, knitting patterns, project bags, and yarn scraps everywhere. I can hardly get to my bed with all of this chaos around it. Why does the Mother of Cats lack balance? She should learn from me. It is best to spend the day sleeping, eating, chomping cookies, causing trouble (umm… I might have eaten part of a baby rose bush…), and chasing yarn.

Tomorrow she plans to clean up and to get her last two WIPs finished off so she can WIND MORE YARN!! Oh, I really like to wind yarn.  That is about my favorite thing in the world. The Mother of Cats would struggle to get things done without me.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The sweater is the Daelyn Pullover and will be a great cold weather sweater for me. My project notes are here.
  • The Cowl is the Dissent Cowl; I knit it with MCN in a DK weight from Western Sky Knits. It is very soft, sturdy and warm. Another cold weather star. My project notes are here.
  • The socks are my own pattern to match my new Clinkerbell Cowl by Casapinka. Project notes are here.
  • I have to get a pair of mitts and my thrummed mittens finished. Next week! Tomorrow I am going to wind the yarn for a new sweater!! Sturgill, here I come!!

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.

The Color Continues…

Last week I was having the time of my life knitting up some fun socks in perfect fall colors found in a skein of Colorful October dyed by Chasing Rabbits Fiber Co for my favorite LYS, Colorful Yarns. By the end of the week the socks were done. Check these babies out!

Finished socks.
The colors of my yard captured in a pair of socks. My project notes for these socks can be found on Ravelry here.
Leaves.
The leaves in my yard have now all fallen off the trees, but there are still lots of trees out there showing off. This tree was in a parking lot by the grocery store.  I love these leaves! My mood lifts with each new vista of fall colors, and every trip out of the house makes me want to knit more of the bright fall colored yarn.

You know that I had to buy another skein of this yarn. Last Wednesday I threw caution to the wind (I already have a stash that will never be exhausted in my lifetime…), bought more Colorful October, and gleefully cast on to knit a pair of arm warmers to match the socks. I’ve got to hurry here: fall won’t last forever.

Arm Warmer.
The first arm warmer is done.

Hey, notice any difference between the colors in the arm warmer and the socks? Yep. The colors in the arm warmer really did pool, huh. I kind of expected that something like this would happen because… stitch count. The arm warmers that I have been knitting for myself are knit from the elbow down towards the wrist with a stitch count that decreases from 72 to 64. Look at what a difference a few stitches made.

Pooled knitting.
The portion of the warmer knit with 72 stitches really pooled.
Wrist cuff.
That pooling disappeared when the count dropped to 64 as I approached the wrist 

Huge difference in appearance as I came down the warmer towards the wrist. The part of the warmer that will show while I’m wearing it under a sleeved top will exactly match my socks, so I’m happy with the look.

Socks
That’s why my socks, knit at a stitch count of 64, didn’t have any pooling with this yarn.

I’m working out my pattern for these arm warmers. They are pretty darn simple knitting, and each time I knit myself a pair I record all of my changes in my project notes on Ravelry. If you want to make yourself a pair too, feel free to check out what I’ve done and cast on a pair for yourself too.

 

Colorful October

I’m still knitting away on my Zweig sweater, but I have to admit that I’ve been drawn off project by the fantastic weather we are enjoying here in Colorado. The days are warm and sunny with a clear blue sky; I’ve moved all of the plants back outside to enjoy themselves before the next frost.

Fall colors.
I love the colors this time of the year. The potted plants are blooming well now that the heat of summer has passed and the tree leaves are in their prime colors. Even my mini roses are outdoing themselves with the cool nights and warm sunshine. Gold and brown leaves litter the lawn, but the grass is still a rich green.

So when I saw this skein of yarn at my favorite LYS, Colorful Yarns, I had to have it! This yarn, which is dyed for the shop by Chasing Rabbits Fiber Co, is one of a series of monthly yarns. This yarn, of course, is called Colorful October. Yay! This is the yarn for me!

Colorful October skein.
Look! There are the colors of my yard all captured in one skein of yarn.

Things only got better after I opened up the skein…

Look! Fall colors in rich tones that mirror the garden. 

I am always a little intimidated by skeins with so much color going on… I want the colors to show their stuff without pooling or looking muddy. I debated on whether to go big (a shawl) or stay small (socks), and finally just cast on and started on some socks using my favorite vanilla sock pattern.

Socks.
Perfect! I don’t know what I was worried about; the colors are all clear and there is no pooling in sight. I am so happy, happy with these guys that I am fighting the urge to go get another skein of yarn to make matching arm warmers

I should have these done in a couple of days and then back to the Zweig sweater I will go. I’ll be wearing my new socks, too, while I finish up the sweater over the next week.

I love October.