MacKenzie Speaks: Nordiska Sweater is Done!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Do you see how closely I worked with the Mother of Cats this time?

I am happy to announce the arrival of our bouncing baby Nordiska after weeks of effort. I really supervised the Mother of Cats closely this time and kept my paw on the knitting at almost all times, and I do say that my efforts have really paid off.

Looking good, huh! Now that the weather is nice again the Mother of Cats and I are starting to hang out in the yard again.

The Mother of Cats totally freaked out within hours of finishing this sweater and pulled out boxes of yarn to wind for new projects. So emotional, the Mother of Cats. She simply can’t function without me and at least 4 different projects to work on at once. I helped her with all of the yarn winding and we’re hard at work getting new shawls and mitts done now. Next time I write I’ll show them all off!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

The sweater is Nordiska by Caitlin Hunter, and you can find my project notes here.

Here are some of the photos showing the entire knitting process:

Yarn for Nordiska sweater.
The yarns!
The cable detail along the raglan sleeves.
Close-up of the Fair Isle colorwork. I used a slightly darker gray at the bottom of the sweater and you can see the slight difference in the gray in the colorwork.

I posted the picture of MacKenzie sleeping in the knitting to a Facebook knitting group and he already has almost 550 likes. No wonder he has an outsized kitty ego…

 

MacKenzie Speaks: Nordiska Days

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Do you see this knitting? The Mother of Cats and I are working like crazy on her Nordiska sweater.

She got cranky at the beginning of the sweater when she decided that she didn’t like the look of the cables that are on the edges of the raglan sleeve increases. She kept checking the pattern, knitting, grumbling, eating cookies and fussing about the look of the cable. Not always stable, the Mother of Cats…

See how the cable edge isn’t clean on the right side? The Mother of Cats went crazy about this.

I think that she should have just gotten past this little design flaw and gotten me more cookies, but NO! She had to rip everything out and started again with her own idea of how to make the cable.

Here is her revised version of the cable. Glad that crisis was over as she really neglected me something awful while she was deciding whether to rip/not rip. Once she ripped out the sweater and started over (MAJOR CAT FUN!!) she was back to normal and paid much more attention to me. About time, Mother of Cats! She is just exhausting some days.
I settled down for a little nap while she worked her way through the boring upper body of the sweater…
Grabbed some more nap time while she got herself organized for doing the colorwork at the bottom of the sweater…
And really poured on the attention and support while she was knitting with different colors of yarn.

What can I say? I really like knitting that has more than one ball of yarn involved. The Mother of Cats keeps flipping the different colors back and forth, and then she moves the balls from one side to the other. I help her as much as I can and grab a little yarn chomp when the opportunity presents itself. Why does the Mother of Cats get so emotional about my help? I think that it means that she loves me, don’t you? But if she loves me, why does she keep cutting my claws short? I don’t understand why she doesn’t trust me more…

This is what our work looks like now. Pretty good, don’t you think?

There is no way that the Mother of Cats could have done such a good job without my help.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • I’m still not sure if the issue with the edge of the cable was me or the pattern, but I have to say that I just love, love, love how this sweater is working up. I put my notes on the change I made to the shaping increases in my project notes in case you are interested.
  • I did take a picture of the whole sweater the way it looks right now.
Can you see the V-neck? It is there…
  • I am using a different dye lot of the light grey yarn at the bottom of the sweater; it is a little darker. I made the switch when I started the colorwork and plan to finish up the bottom ribbing with the darker color. I’m saving the lighter yarn to do the V-neck ribbing, which I will do next, and then to start the sleeves until I get them down to the colorwork that will allow me to switch to the darker grey.
  • The Estes Park Wool Market is in two weeks and I have hopes that this sweater will be done in time to wear there (and that it will be cold enough in early June for a sweater…). I’m on a deadline, people! Must knit faster!!

Casting On Again

Last week was great; I finished up a big knitting project, read a good book, baked cookies, and began planting flowers and doing yard work again. Yay! The leaves are bursting out on my trees, the roses are looking good, and I think that we have finally had our last freeze warning. Spring is finally here! Good weather has arrived for a few days, I have energy, and I made lots of progress over some really excellent days.

And yet, there was a downside to getting things done… I suddenly found myself rattling around the house at loose ends. I aimlessly flipped between books on my tablet, unable to find one that would hold my interest. I listlessly looked through knitting patterns, unable to commit. Where is my next project, I asked myself. I dove into the yarn stash hunting for inspiration.

Enough of that, said the stash! Here are some nice yarns, truly excellent colors, and ideas galore. It really does pay off to have a well-fed stash at times like this. Look at what I am casting on for the next round of projects…

I bought these cute shoes over the winter, and they so deserve socks to match their cuteness! What are the shoes, you ask? Those are Haflinger clogs, and my feet love them. 
Here they are! These socks are part of the Stonington Project by Ruth Garbo, and this particular pattern is No. 5 Union Street. How stinking cute can a pair of socks be? My project notes are here.
Yarn for Nordiska sweater.
I had put together the yarns for Nordiska last month but kind of forgot about them while knitting the VNeck Boxy. Yippee! I sang to myself as I pulled the kitted up yarns and pattern out of the stash. I wound the yarns…
cast on and began knitting away Monday. I love the way the “construct” colorway is working up, and the cables that show off the raglan shaping are looking great. Next month is the Estes Park Wool Market; if I knit like crazy I might be able to show off the finished Nordiska then. My project notes are here.
I kept collecting these coral and rust colored yarns through the fall and winter. Unsure of what to do with them, I kept feeding the yarn stash knowing that eventually the right project would come along. Behold! These yarns have told me that they want to be a What the Fade!? shawl. Who am I to argue with them?

So, there we are. I have projects going again and I am excited with the drive to complete more knitted yumminess.

Still hunting for the book, but it is sure to come. I have two audiobook credits to burn, so as soon as I settle on some titles I will be in business.

After all, I need something to listen to while knitting!

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!!!