The Yarn Destash Resolution: so there was a little slip…

Last week I cast caution to the winds, jumped into my car with my BKB (Best Knitting Bud) Deb, and headed north to the Interweave Yarn Fest in Loveland, Colorado. It was a beautiful day and we were looking forward to our adventure.  I brought some skeins of yarn that needed matching, a couple of patterns, a cocky attitude and an absolute conviction that I wouldn’t buy even one skein of yarn that I couldn’t use this year.

Here’s the background on my yarn stash: I’m working on reducing the stash this year by at least 50 skeins. As I headed up towards Loveland I was lulled into a false sense of progress as I had just totaled my knitting efforts and knew that I was on a great pace to reach my goals: 21 skeins of yarn had already been knitted out of the stash. I could afford to splurge a little, right? I am a knitting machine and I will pull off this resolution with one knitting hand behind my back. No problems!!

Absolutely beautiful skeins of yarns in greys, purples and magenta.
Oops!

Right. No plan ever survived contact with a knitting marketplace. After cruising and shopping the marketplace at Yarn Fest, Deb and I scooted on up to Fort Collins to visit My Sister Knits, a favorite LYS. By the end of the day I had bought 11 new skeins of yarn.

Yarn for Nordiska sweater.
But look at what I scored!! I took the gold and magenta yarns up to Interweave with me with an idea of making a Nordiska sweater from them. I just needed the yarn for the body of the sweater. The perfect yarn was hiding at the end of a rack at My Sister Knits: look at those sprinkles! I bought 2 skeins of the grey (Construct) and I have two more in the stash. I have plenty of yarn now for the sweater with an elongated body, matching arm warmers and socks. Total win!!
Yarn to knit a Koivua sweater.
I have three skeins of this pink variegated yarn in the stash just wailing to be made into a Koivua sweater. What they needed was a nice earthy but calm yarn to play nice with them. The perfect candidate was this light grey tweed that I found at the Western Sky Knits booth. Okay, this was less of a win. I bought 5 skeins of the tweed yarn to use these three pink skeins, but I get a fabulous Koivua out of the deal, so it is still a win, right?

So, I bought 7 skeins of yarn with a definite projects in mind for them. The other 4 are more of a “I need to buy these now or I will regret it later” type purchases. I mean, look at that mohair!! I will combine it with another yarn and produce a fabulous cowl or shawlette that will still be using up yarn from the stash. That’s good, right?

The last three yarns will become a three-color shawl of some type. Something beautiful that won’t count towards depleting the stash, but will be worth the knitting anyway. Something that I will treasure. (My Precious! sang in my mind as I grabbed the yarns to my chest… I just ignored the look that Deb shot my way as I tucked the yarn into my basket and skipped to the checkout counter…I don’t need an intervention. Really, I don’t. Move along, now. ) I wonder if I can get the mohair involved somehow? The colors all go together. Sometimes it is best to just go with the serendipity. I wonder if I can find more of that mohair?

Do you see how my stash got into such a state in the first place?

Knitting books.
I was also lucky enough to find these two publications that I have been looking for. Just beautiful knits that have me plotting lots of new knits. Socks. DK weight sweaters that I can produce by fading fingering yarns together. Lots of plotting ahead…

All in all, I came home with 11 skeins of yarn and I suddenly have a stash removal total of only 10 skeins. Well, that is less than optimal… Still, not impossible to overcome if I buckle down and get to work on my projects. I’m all fired up again and casting on like crazy. Socks, sweaters, shawls… I am on it!

Have a great (knitting) weekend, everyone.

MacKenzie Speaks: The Sturgill Sweater is Done.

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Ornry cat snoozing on beautiful Fair Isle knitting.
I’ve been napping on the new sweater as much as possible.

The Mother of Cats has continued to knit like crazy on her new sweater. I’ve been giving her tons of help, but she doesn’t seem to appreciate me the way she should. She continues to freak out every single time that I put a claw on her sweater; she always grabs my paw and WON’T LET ME TOUCH THE SWEATER WITH MY PAWS!! I do not understand why she is acting this way. So selfish, the Mother of Cats!

Trimmed claws on the ornry cat that make him knitting friendly.
Look at what she did to me!!

The Mother of Cats is so unstable and difficult to work with. After I snagged her knitting only a couple of times she grabbed me and CUT MY NAILS!!! Can you see the damage in the picture?

Ornry cat snoozing on knitting with his paws on the work.
After my nails were cut she started letting me sleep on her knitting. Ah. So much better. This sweater is so, so comfy.
Finished sweater on the Mother of Cats.
Tonight she finished the sweater and put it on. NOOO!!! What will I sleep on now?

The Mother of Cats pulled out a lot of yarn this evening and started knitting on new projects, lots of new projects, lots of new yarns. She let me help and I got to chomp at least three different colors. One has cashmere… my favorite!! Wait until I get to show that yarn off.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The sweater is Sturgill by Caitlin Hunter. My project notes on Ravelry are here.
  • I finished the sleeves before completing the body as I was worried about running out of yarn and was considering options. I completed only a couple of inches of sleeve ribbing and paced the stitches on holders so I could match to the body of the sweater later (see below).
  • The sweater is knit with DK weight yarn, but I ran out of the main color (dark grey) before I finished the body of the sweater. I had a skein of fingering in the same colorway (Man in Black by Stitch Together) so I blended that yarn held doubled with the DK by alternating rows for several rounds and then completed the body with the doubled fingering. It was a great match.
Details of yarn in the sleeve ribbing.
Here is a close-up of the ribbing showing the doubled fingering mixed with the DK weight yarn. Don’t those colors look good?! All the ribbing on the body and most of the sleeve ribbing was done with the doubled fingering yarn. 
  • Once the body of the sweater was completed I did the same blending trick with the sleeve ribbing and then added another 4″ to the sleeve ribbing to get a total of 6″ ribbing. Sleeves fit perfect!
  • After wet blocking the two weights of yarn look identical in the sweater. Win!
  • MacKenzie has already gotten over the cutting of his claws since it allowed him to plant himself constantly on my knitting…
Spoiled and ornry cat sleeping on sweater.
As far as MacKenzie is concerned the new sweater is a bed for him…
  • Now that I’m done with all of my current WIPs it is time to go crazy and cast on lots of new projects. Wait until I can show off the next wave of knitted yumminess.

Sturgill Learning Curve

I launched into Sturgill with supreme self-confidence. I had just finished off some stunningly challenging mitts for my niece and felt like there wasn’t a knitting project anywhere that would be beyond me. I’m rocking, right?! Let me just print out this bad boy, cast on and whip it out…

Sturgill pattern by Caitlin Hunter and the author's work in progress.
There isn’t a sweater designed by Caitlin Hunter that I don’t want to knit. I was hooked as soon as I saw this pattern hit Ravelry. I went stash shopping that night and couldn’t wait to get started. As you can see, I have been making progress, but I’ve been learning new tricks along the way…

Do you hear the sound of screeching brakes in the background? Yep. Hubris will only get you so far. There have been problems. I have had to rethink some things, learn some new skills, and just embrace the adventure. Here are the highlights:

Color Choices

Yarn for sweater.
I selected these yarns the night that I printed the pattern. I thought that the purple would be great as the color pop (turquoise color in the original) in the sweater. I cast on and started knitting with the grey, and then wound the other colors when I got to the colorwork chart. Oh. Once I had the yarn wound I realized that this purple made the dusky pink (my favorite!) look dull. Really dull. Ugh. Time to hit the yarn stash again…
Final yarn chosen for the sweater.
I found this muted purple to use instead. The new purple is fingering (the other yarns are DK) so I will need to knit it doubled. That should work, right? The pink brightened right up with the new purple and looks much better. Yay! I cast on with these yarns.

Yarn Handling

I’m pretty good at knitting colorwork these days. I carry the dominant color in my left hand and the other color in my right; I catch the strands every other stitch so there are few floats. What I didn’t anticipate because I didn’t look closely at the pattern in my rush of casting on joy is that there are three colors being used at a time in parts of this color chart. Oops! After some struggling, inappropriate language, and hair pulling, I worked out a routine to handle all three colors by parking one on the left to be used only by my left hand (grey yarn), one on the right to be used only by my right hand (purple yarn) and the pink was parked in the middle. As I worked through the chart the pink switched hands as required by the work, I caught floats when I could, and there was no tangling of the yarn.  Slow going, but the final fabric looks pretty good, and you can’t see that inappropriate language at all. 🙂

Bobbles

There were bobbles on my niece’s mitts, which required a lot of turning back and forth while I worked each one. Not a big deal, because the mitt was a small item. This sweater has lots of 3-stitch bobbles, and I didn’t want to turn the work back and forth for every single one. The bobbles involve only 3 stitches. Obviously a great opportunity to knit backwards…

After some messing around I figured out how to do it. I’ve started the bobble here and am backwards knitting the three bobble-stitches from the right needle back onto the left. To do this you insert the left needle into the back of the stitch you are working…
Knitting backwards
Wrap the yarn around the left needle from front to back…
Knitting backwards
Pull the wrapped yarn through the stitch…
Knitting backwards
Pull the finished stich off the right needle to the left one. I just knitted this stitch backwards! 
Finished bobble
By knitting stitches backwards instead of turning the work and purling them, I found that it was much easier (and faster) to get the bobbles done. Win and a new skill acquired!

There’s more struggle ahead of me. I’m worried about running out of the grey yarn and there was no more at the LYS so I bought two skeins of fingering to use knitted double. That’s DK, right? The colors look to be a good match, but I’m still a little anxious. I hated to add two skeins to the stash, but I was dying with yarn chicken anxiety. I’m getting away with doubled yarn with the purple, but if I pull that trick with the sleeves will they look funny? Lots to worry about.

MacKenzie helping with the knitting.
I’m also dealing with the usual cat assistance while I knit. So cute. So purrsistent. So annoying when struggling with three colors or bobbles.
Knitted Progress.
But I’m making good progress on the sweater anyway and I’m really happy with the colors. I can’t wait to get this finished and blocked!!

I’m still trying to clean as much yarn as I can out of the stash this year. So far I’ve used up 13 skeins, and with the sweater I should clear several more even without counting the two skeins I added on as insurance. This sweater is mostly out of the stash, and even though it is keeping me on my toes, I am so happy with how it is knitting up!

Here are my Sturgill project notes on Ravelry.

MacKenzie Speaks: Zweig Alert! It is done at last.

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat and sweater
Do you see what is flopped on top of me? It is the finished Zweig!!

That’s right. The Zweig is finished at last. The Mother of Cats stayed in bed all Thursday with me knitting away on it while listening to a book for her evening book club event, when suddenly, it was done! After hours of being forced to stay off the sweater it was suddenly a nice little blanket for me. Good job, Mother of Cats!

Oh, no. The Mother of Cats was just messing with me. Why doesn’t she take my needs more seriously?  Within minutes of binding off the last sleeve she had dumped the whole mess of yarn into a sink and covered it with water. Why does she do these things?

Cat helping block a sweater.
Okay, I must admit that I do like wet wool.
Cat on sweater
Forget that. I LOVE the smell of wet wool. It’s curiously soothing…

I had just started to paw the wet sweater into a nice cushy bed for myself when the Mother of Cats freaked out, shrieked, and chased me off. She covered my sweater with another layer of towels after that to let it dry overnight. I slept on top of the towels for awhile with a couple of my toys, but it just wasn’t the same.

Today she moved it to a screen to dry some more, and this afternoon, still damp and with strings hanging off of it,  she took it out for a picture. Did she let me play with the strings? Did she let me go outside with her? NO! SHE DID NOT! I do not understand why I am being neglected this way.

Zweig hanging in tree.
It looks pretty good out there, doesn’t it?

The Mother of Cats is kind of moping around now that the sweater and her book is done; maybe she needs some catnip.  I’m finally getting more attention and cookies, but last night she began to dig through the yarn stash and organizing stuff into bins labeled “Christmas Knitting” and “Fingerless Mitts”. I helped her with that as much as I could and even got some red yarn rolled under the guest bed. I’m such a good helper! I’m pretty sure that she will be busy on new projects, but right now I’m getting more attention. As I should.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This sweater was cast on the last day of summer, and I am so pleased to report that it is done just in time for cold, blustery weather coming in next week.
  • The sweater is Zweig by Caitlin Hunter. I knitted it in two cashmere blend yarns that were just a joy to work with. The blue even has some silk in it! I was torn about what color to combine with the blue but eventually settled on the gold as it made the blue come alive best.
  • Yarn
    Here the yarns are when I made the final decision for the sweater. 
  • You can find my project notes on Ravelry here.
  • Last night I returned to a shawl that had been neglected for a months. Soon after casting on I had decided I didn’t like it very much; now I can’t wait to get it done and to cast on another. My head is swimming with different color combinations for more shawls. Maybe some for Christmas?
  • Oh, yeah. Christmas gift knitting. Maybe it is time to get going on that. I usually start panic knitting after Thanksgiving, but why not start the panic a little earlier this year? Let’s see… I have a cowl to do, several hand warmers, some stars and candle covers, towels to weave and dishcloths to make, quilting that was put off from last year, and…
  • TIME TO PANIC KNIT!!!

 

MacKenzie Speaks: We’re making a Zweig!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat on sweater.
I’ve been hanging out with the Mother of Cats for days working on our new sweater.

This sweater is really nice. The yarn that the Mother of Cats is using is part cashmere and silk: my favorite to take a nap on. Every time she puts it down I move right in for a quick nap!

Cranky cat.
But she always get cranky and chases me off. Why does the Mother of Cats act like this? She is so inconsiderate and possessive of her things.

I must say, even though she puts the knitting down pretty often (nap time!), we have been making pretty good progress. Look at where we are this morning…

Seater in progress.
Ta-da!! We are now working our way down the first sleeve!

I’m really not a fan of the sleeve knitting: every time the Mother of Cats turns the knitting the whole sweater whaps me in the head. It really gets a little old after a while. She should be more careful, don’t you think? Still, this is a really nice sweater, even when it is whapping me in the head instead of being left on the couch for me to take a nap on. Here are some of my favorite details:

Lace detail of the knitting.
Look a this lace yoke and the strip of colorwork.
Stitch detail.
The body of the sweater has this funky X-stitch pattern. The Mother of Cats followed the directions and learned how to knit this without the cable needle.

This afternoon the Mother of Cats plans to do some binge watching on Netflix while she continues on the sleeve. Drat. Maybe I will spend my time watching for birds and the enemy cat in the back window. My poor head is getting really tired of all the abuse. As soon as she gets up to make dinner, though, the sweater is mine! Cat naps will be happening again.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This sweater is Zweig by Caitlin Hunter. The yarns that I am using and other information can be found in my project notes on Ravelry.
  • I blended the skeins of yarn together using helix knitting for about 2 inches at the transitions. This is the video (posted by Pepperly) that I used to figure out how to do the changes, and I actually knitted an entire round with each yarn and then just made the switch and tensioned the way she described it in the video. Worked great, the switch is smooth, and the knitted fabric feels great.
  • I started this sweater on the first day of fall. I hoped to get it done before the first snow, but that happened last week before I even got to the bottom of the sweater’s body. It is nice and warm today, and with some luck the sweater will be done before our next serious cold snap.

MacKenzie Speaks: We made a Sipila!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

This has been going on for far too long, and I certainly haven’t been getting all of the attention that I deserve, but I am happy to announce that the Mother of Cats and I have finally finished her Sipila sweater.

Cat and knitting.
Do you see how nice her stitches are? That is what superior feline support can do for you!
Sipila Sweater
and here is her finished sweater. 

The picture would have been better if she had included me in the shot, but sometimes the Mother of Cats can be so selfish.

Sleeping Cat.
But she is letting me sleep with one of the left over balls of yarn. Maybe she isn’t too bad after all.

It’s late, so we are heading back to bed as soon as I get my cookies.

I’m such a good boy.

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This sweater is Sipila by Caitlin Hunter. You can find my project notes on Ravelry here.
  • I was concerned about the floats early on in the knitting so I switched to catching all of the floats while knitting. It slowed me down, but I think that the fabric has more even stitches and I won’t have to worry about snagging floats while wearing the sweater. You can see how nice the fabric is in the picture of MacKenzie above. That was before blocking.
  • Yarn
    The Orchid yard was knitted in order with the skein on the left used as #1 and the one on the far right used at the bottom of the sweater.
  • I opened all the skeins and organized them in the order of brightest to darkest. I started the sweater using the brightest skein in the yoke, and then faded the skeins together using helix knitting.
  • I knit 6” of stockinette on the sleeve, and then another 32 rounds instead of starting the chart with the repeats of rounds 1-8. The chart was started with round 9 and the sleeve was finished following the directions. The length is perfect!!
  • The 4th skein was too bright at one end of the skein, and too dark at the other for the 2nd sleeve, so I had to helix knit all the stockinette section with the remains of the other three skeins to make the sleeve match.
  • I finished the sweater at the length suggested in the pattern, but I was unhappy with the length. I went back and ripped out that ribbing and then added another 2.5 inches to the body of the sweater using the ripped back yarn and the dark end of the last skein blended  together with more helix knitting. The final ribbing was done with the darkest skein of yarn.
  • The finished sweater is exactly as long as my sleeves. How cool is that?
  • I absolutely love the fit of this sweater!!

MacKenzie Speaks: Sipila Progress

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat.
Do you see what I’m sitting on? The Mother of Cats and I have been working on the Sipila sweater.

I’m not going to mince words here… I lost my brother Yellow Boy and I can’t find him anywhere. I can’t believe it! I’ve checked everywhere: the closets, under the bed, all the corners downstairs, and in the garage. The Mother of Cats has been really nice and patient with me, but I don’t understand why she hasn’t brought him home yet. I’ve been so upset about losing him that I can’t even eat cookies anymore!

I can, however, eat the special soft food that he left here. The Mother of Cats is letting me eat a can of food every day. She put out all of my favorite toys and even found me some new ones. She bought new catnip and I have a pile of crunchy papers to play in too! Usually she ignores my needs, but lately she has been fairly attentive. I worry about how things have changed, and I’m sticking to the Mother of Cats like a wet hair ball these days. I’m not going to lose her too!! For the last two weeks we have been hanging out together and knitting away on her new Sipila sweater.

Cat chomping yarn.
Okay, there has been some yarn chomping…
Cat and knitting.
… and extremely attentive feline support. Can you see how neat those stitches are? That’s what superior cat supervision can do for you!
Sweater in progress.
Look at far we have gotten!! 

The Mother of Cats really likes this kind of knitting: two colors at once. I’m a fan too as there is twice as much yarn to chase while she’s working. We are making good progress and should have this sweater done in another week; the Mother of Cats is already talking about winding some yarn for the next sweater. Woohoo! I love yarn winding time.

Sleeping Cat.
But that is tomorrow. Right now I’m just going to grab a nap with the little ball of yarn that the Mother of Cats gave me for my own. She says she will make me a mouse out of it. Huh. If she really loved me she would have knitted it already. Strange priorities, Mother of Cats. Cat needs come first!!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies… err… canned kitty food, now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • I just made it down to the colorwork section of the second sleeve. This sweater is a joy to knit and I am thrilled with the fit. I’m going to have half a skein of the magenta yarn left over so I’m considering ripping out the ribbing of the body and adding a few inches to the body. My project notes are here.
  • The next sweater will be Zweig. What a shock: another Caitlin Hunter sweater. This is definitely the year of the Caitlin Hunter sweater for me.
  • I’m debating the wisdom of getting a kitten for MacKenzie. (He is an Ocicat, and in general they need a lot of stimulation; the vet advised me to get him a kitten or puppy right away.) He is pretty needy, but he is also 15 years old. I’ve decided to give things more time.
  • Cat and author.
    Life has been a little sad the last two weeks,  but good cuddles and the zen of knitting are getting us through it.

    Have a great (knitting) weekend everyone!