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!!

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Update: Knits, Quilts, a New Book and Cold Cats

It has been just crazy hectic here the last two weeks. I have been driving to doctor appointments, cleaning the house, running errands, and staying pretty darn busy getting stuff ready for Christmas. This week I’ve been chipping away on several Christmas makes (with lots of cat help), and while the list of things I’m making seems endless, I finally got several things done all at once in the last couple of days. Finally, some progress! Check it out.

Shawl
I finished the Jujuy Shawl that I’m making for a cousin. I was told to use bright colors; this should definitely fit the bill. Ravelry notes here.
Mitts and Book
I also got these Akiko mitts done while I was reading a book. These babies are made with Anzula Cricket yarn and the cashmere blend makes them feel really yummy. This is the second pair of these mitts that I’ve made. I wasn’t happy with the thumbs on the first pair so this time I moved them over onto the palm of the mitt. Ravelry notes here. Looking at the tops of the mitts they look misshapen and thumbless, but if you turn them over…
Back of mitts
…there they are, tucked away on the back of the mitt. I moved the gusset over 6 stitches on these; I’m still fussing about these thumbs and may do a third pair with the thumb moved 4 stitches… This is a illness, but I prefer to call it a mitt study. 🙂
Table Runner.
I also got this table runner pieced and ready to quilt. The pattern, Waffle Time,  is really fast and easy to make. I bought the fabric last year and finally got going on the stitching this month. Did I mention that I have another table runner and a quilt to get done too?
Fabric close-up
See how cute these fabrics are?

I just want to say that all this crafting wasn’t easy at all since the weather turned dangerously cold for kitties this week and I couldn’t let them go out for more than a couple of minutes at a time. MacKenzie has been especially crabby about the turn of weather events. This morning when I got up it was -10 degrees F and the ground was covered in snow! Yikes! No way could the cats go out in that!

Annoyed cat
MacKenzie: Do I look annoyed? Yes! I would like to speak with whoever is in charge of the weather. This is completely unacceptable.
cat on shawl
MacKenzie: If I can’t go outside I should be able to help with the knitting, right? Yarn chomping time!! I mean, what do you expect a bored cat to do?
Cat
Yellow Boy: Yarn chomping is so yesterday. I prefer to sit on the pattern and stare at the Mother of Cats until she gets me some chicken to eat. If I can’t chase bugs I should have chicken. Chicken, chicken, chicken!! Did I mention that I can stare for a LONG time?

When they aren’t yarn chomping and staring at me (sitting on the pattern, of course) the cats have insisted on sleeping on top of me. These are big cats! The little one is over 15 pounds, and MacKenzie is a whopping 18 pounds of dead cat weight.

Book
Luckily this new book was published this week so I can read while serving as a cat bed. Oh, my goodness. This is the latest book in my most favorite series ever, The Expanse. I watched the first season of the television show made from the books last week to warm up for the release date, and as soon as the book was available in the early hours of Tuesday morning I downloaded it to my NOOK. 

I really do love these books. I even blogged about them. I like the characters, the political/social situations created as people move onto other planets and into space, the science is good, the pacing of the plots is excellent, and did I mention that it is SPACE OPERA?!! Hello, Science Geek! Here’s the previous posts about these books:

This new book is the 6th in the series. I didn’t feel compelled to blog about the 5th book, but this latest book has really hooked me back into the story. All my favorite characters are back, the story is moving right along, and there has got to be a space battle coming soon.

Thank heavens it is cold out. What a wonderful excuse to stay inside to craft and read. I may get all of my Christmas makes done on time this year. The cats will get more attention. I will get my book finished lickety-split.

Cat
…and I will get more chicken!! 

Thanks Polar Express.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Reporting the Launch of some WIPs

Last week after getting some big projects out of the way I pulled out more craft stuff and got going on the Christmas knitting and messed with some other crafts. Now I’m rolling in the WIPs, but hey, who wants to be stuck in just one project? Boring!! Better to have several going at the same time with different features

Mitt
Detail work: these mitts are tedious with the charted lace pattern, beads and twisted ribs. Great for focused knitting during a football game. (Akiko Mitt, Ravelry page here.)
Jujuy Shawl in Progress
This shawl is all garter and a simple mesh knit. Ahh! My Netflix binge watching buddy! (Jujuy Shawl, Ravelry page here.)
Warped loom
and for the sunny mornings, what could be better than a cup of latte and time at the loom. I warped up my little table top 8 shaft loom to play around with some different ideas.
Weaving
Here’s my first effort with some old Christmas yarn for the weft…
Weaving
and this is what the same pattern looks like in a balanced weave with a tencel yarn of the same weight as the warp.

I’m thinking of making a scarf. There are lots of different treadle patterns possible with this warp, so I’m digging in the yarn stash to see what else I can play with. I just found some lace weight grey alpaca, and there is this alpaca/silk yarn too… Gosh, this is fun. 🙂 I might even figure out how to record this on Ravelry. Other people have weaving projects recorded. Must push the boundaries and learn something new!

Snow on flowers
The only other news around here is that it finally has snowed.
Cats
Overall the cats are disgusted with the change in weather, but amazingly have become buddies again in the cool air. Ah, the circle of life. Gone are the bug hunting days of summer, and here again are the feline pile-ups of winter. 🙂

Happy Christmas crafting everyone.

Hello Autumn: Leaves, Pumpkins and Knitting

This is my favorite time of the year. What’s not to like? The trees are strutting their stuff, the heat is finally letting up, and it is time to fire up the crock pot for some long overdue comfort food. Oh, yeah. The first snowfall is right around the corner. Knitting weather for sure!!

It has been just stinking hot even though we are past the middle of October, but the trees are right on track. Check out the maple leaves in my back yard.

Maple Leaves
The leaves are all off the tree now, but I did get a great shot of the color last week before they dropped.

I’ve been just longing for fall. As soon as the pumpkin farms opened I went with my grandson and DIL for some pumpkin fun. We went on rides, chased each other on tricycles, fed goats, watched pumpkins getting fired from a cannon (!!), and of course took a wagon ride out into the fields to get our pumpkins.

Pumpkins!
Aiden and I at the pumpkin patch. There are about 30 different types of pumpkins planted in the fields; we had 15 minutes to run around to pick and drag out the ones that we wanted. Good thing there was a time limit… there were an awful lot of cute pumpkins!!
Pumpkins
The pumpkins are now hanging out in my living room adding some fall color. Don’t you love the warty one? I’m told it will make good pie, but I don’t have the heart to cook it yet.
Pumpkin and Wheat
Doesn’t this just scream fall?

The pumpkins and leaves are making me feel so happy and longing for the cooler weather.  I pulled out the yarn and patterns to start a couple of quick little projects in fall colors. I knitted like crazy all last week, and here they are:

Shawl
I liked this yarn so much that I actually bought this fig colored sweater to go with it. This pattern is the Riverbed Shawlette by Grace Akhren. 
Shawl
The shawl is knit by making a large garter stitch triangle with the lace edge along one side. I was getting a little worried about running out of yarn when the knitting suddenly turns the point at the bottom of the shawl and then the other side of lace was added to the live stitches as you worked up the other side. Plenty of yarn! The ruffle is knit last by picking up stitches on the other edge of the lace trim. I love the different directions of the color in the final shawl. Ravelry notes here.
Mitts
I started these Akiko MItts by Sivia Harding on the same day that I cast on the shawl. I couldn’t resist; Akiko is a Japanese word that stands for “Autumn” according to the pattern notes. Besides, everyone needs more than one project going at a time, right? The shawl was easy knitting to take with me, and these charted and beaded mitts were for at home knitting time. 
MItts
Check out the detail in these mitts! They fit just perfect and while following the chart was a little tedious, the twisted stitches were really pretty easy to do as the pattern included directions on how to knit them without using a cable needle. I’m making two more pairs of these for Christmas presents. Ravelry notes are here.

Suddenly I finished the little projects within a day of each other. Ugh. Knitting lapses are downright depressing. Resisting the urge to cast on several more little projects I pulled out the sweater I had started a few weeks ago that had been languishing during the heat (OK, it’s only in the 80’s, but that is hot for October!). Surely eventually it will be cold enough to wear this baby. I believe! I started knitting on it in earnest over the weekend.

Sweater
This is the Guernsey Pullover by Norah Gaughan that was in the last Vogue Knitting Magazine. The construction is pretty unusual; decreases in the middle of the front form the shaping for raglan sleeves. I think that the variation in the yarn is adding interest to the knitting, but at one point I was knitting from two skeins to keep the colors from pooling too badly. Ravelry notes here.
Cat and knitting
You know who moved in to help during the photo shoot…
Yarn and cat
and the usual yarn war with MacKenzie began. I won. Barely. He was pretty determined to have some fun this time, and he has those sharp pointy bits on his paws…

How does he know I’m out taking pictures of knitted items? He was upstairs asleep. It’s a mystery.

It’s snowing in the mountains of Colorado today, but was quite warm again today. I knit on the sweater all afternoon anyway. Someday soon the snow will come down here and I’ll be glad for the sweater.

The trees know. Winter is coming.

Sorry, MacKenzie.