This week mild weather with bright sunshine arrived in my town, and the people of my state (Colorado, USA) began to howl into the night every evening at 8pm in a show of support and unity. Flowers are starting to appear in my beds, and I am opening windows to air out the house. In the midst of bad news and scary times there is still sunshine, unity, and moments of beauty.
I hope that everyone continues to stay safe and that you are enduring the days of isolation in good humor. Here’s a few glimpses of some of my happy moments this week.
I ran out of milk and bread last week. I didn’t want to eat my cereal dry so I went hunting in the pantry and found… a can of pumpkin in the back. I picked a recipe online that would use the entire can of pumpkin, and used oil instead of butter since I’m hoarding those last two sticks to make shortbread cookies later on in the week. One recipe was discarded because it used too many eggs… hey, those guys are precious right now. Ta-daa! This recipe did the job. You know, pumpkin bread with a slice of white cheddar is a pretty tasty lunch, too! A couple of days later I had gotten my delivery of groceries and I now have milk again for my morning latte. The pumpkin bread is really nice with that, too.
I went grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago and saw a large bird arriving at a nest in the top of a tree a couple of blocks from my house. I walked down there this week in the nice weather to take a picture. I was expecting to see a golden eagle, but I kind of think that this is a great horned owl because it’s standing straight up and then there are those ears…. What so you think?
I’m still ignoring the finishing work that needs to be done on the Pebble Tunic; looking for easy knitting for stressful times I wound yarn and cast on another V-Neck Boxy sweater. This sweater is lightweight, extremely comfortable, and the perfect project to generate the peaceful Zen of knitting that I need right now.
I bought a beautiful variegated yarn that compliments this color with an idea to put some Fair Isle work on the sleeves. Now I’m considering making a cowl or small shawl to go with the sweater. Not to worry… I have days and days before I need to make a decision on that. For now I can just knit away and binge watch Netflix shows. Perfect plan for now.
We have a few more days of sunshine here before the rain/snow makes a comeback over the weekend; while I can I’m reading and taking naps in the front room with the plants. Good days in a sad time.
It is snowing outside tonight. Again. After unbelievable warm days in the 60’s and 70’s the week before last Colorado plunged into frigid temperatures and snow overnight last Sunday. Then the temperatures went subzero and it snowed again. And again. We have already passed the average snow totals for the month, my snow shovel is getting worn out and MacKenzie is downright disgusted.
During all of this I had a very busy week. I knitted, read, rushed to appointments, and pretty much wore myself out. I even cooked some great meals that were stashed to eat for the upcoming week! By Saturday night I had finished knitting the MacKenzie cat. At the same time I finished the series that I was binge watching on Netflix (Anne with an “E”), and polished off my audiobook, The Giver of Stars. Flush with success I blogged about my week Saturday evening.
And woke up yesterday totally at a loss. What am I supposed to do with myself now? I was in the doldrums for sure… between knitting projects, between books, between Netflix shows, between snowstorms… really struggling to get myself restarted. Ugh. I spent way too much time wandering around on the internet looking at books and yarn.
By the evening , after grocery shopping and shoveling MORE snow, I had pulled out some yarn, made some decisions, bought a new pattern, and slowly settled into a new audiobook. Today I wound yarn, kitted up my new projects, and began to cast on. I even found a new show to bingewatch (Counterpart on Amazon Prime)
Both of the yarns were specials at my LYS. The Baah Yarn La Jolla is the January 2020 yarn, and the plum is the February 2020 yarn from Chasing Rabbits. I bought them both the minute I saw them because… well… I deserve them!!!
I had already made a knitted stockinette swatch with the two yarns held together, so I pulled that out, measured the gauge, and then made another with a larger needle. Bam! I am almost exactly at gauge, the fabric will be light, fluffy and warm, and the sweater is perfect for my struggling hands to work on right now. I bought the pattern last night and cast on. Take that winter weather!!
Oh, yes. Back to the binge watch show. Counterpart is on Amazon Prime and I went right down that rabbit hole as soon as I started watching it. Perfect show to watch while knitting a simple stockinette tunic. I’m already through all of the shoulder shaping and into mindless stockinette for the next 8″. Good show, mindless knitting: perfect match.
But wait, there is more! I need to make another cat!!
Late last night I settled on an audiobook to listen to while falling asleep. Here it is, and so far it is a good one. Perfect for end of the day sock knitting.
So it took a day for the reset and to cast on again, but I am now through the doldrums and energized with projects and goals. What a relief. I’m also considering some quilting and maybe spinning some yarn.
It was a really busy week for me: doctor’s appointments and testing, a meeting of my book club, a broken tooth, and… wait for it… hurricane force winds outside! I am so glad for my new heater and fence, people. I’ve been busy this week but focused mostly on small, portable projects as that was the kind of week I had.
I am enjoying my new Snowshoe socks so much that I cast on another pair early in the week. The trick in these thick, squishy socks is that you can pair a soft 100% merino yarn with a hardy sock yarn that packs a good percentage of nylon. Having discovered how compelling the marled fabric is when you knit two such yarns together is, I dug through the stash looking for another pair to yarns to put together.
The first night after I finished the purple marled socks I went to bed wearing them and thought about other possible pairings between yarns in my stash. One soft yarn, one tough. Two colors that will go great together. Ideally, yarns that are just hanging out in the stash wondering what to do with themselves…
I’ve also been making some progress on knitting MacKenzie, but slowly as I need to work off the computer and it is the kind of project that needs a block of time and focused attention. Still, there is a cat emerging on my needles.
Things are happening in my little indoor garden.
For some reason that I simply can’t understand every single book I pick up lately is about something that I don’t want to deal with at the moment. This one, which is about a life-long pairing between a cello and a gifted magician, seemed intriguing: there is a curse, a love interest, loss, grief, redemption and recovery. Sounds good, huh? There is also alcoholism, sudden death, suicide, and heart wrenching betrayals, too. Faced with a life of constant struggle as I deal with my chronic illnesses, I am personally calling a moratorium on books like this for awhile. I want some happy, fluffy books for awhile. Or at the very least, people not in the grips of self-destructive behaviors, mental illness, and bleak futures. I’m calling a pause on sociopaths and serial killers, too!
I’m a big science fiction geek. This book, the 20th in a series that I have been reading over 2 decades, is like the next installment in a Greek drama. The action is really slow: the book unpacks the events of a few momentous days and explores in minute detail the political, social, and familial events as our hero embarks on a diplomatic mission with the aliens that he serves as mediator/facilitator/interpreter for as they attempt to create an alliance that will consolidate power in a difficult region of the planet. It’s very formal. There is lots of analysis and consideration of intent in every action and decision. Forms, and the correct numbers, must be maintained at all times. Everything, and I do mean everything, is fraught with meaning. I love this series and can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment, but I know that it isn’t for everyone.
The Mother of Cats has been staying indoors for the last couple of weeks avoiding the cold and babying her ill behaved hip, knitting like crazy on ANOTHER sweater. It is almost like she is on fire to get lots of knitting done. Whatever could have set her off?
Bad Mother of Cats. How could she be so undisciplined and go shopping for yarn for herself? She needs to buy stuff for me!!! More cookies! Another little cat for me to chase around!! A new blankie for me to sleep on. She is so thoughtless and self-absorbed.
Of course, as soon as she got this yarn home she began to knit even faster than ever and started neglecting me more then she should. She never lets me go outside anymore, and I am positive that I haven’t been getting as many cookies as I used to. Where are my new toys? I can hardly cope with this lack of attention.
The Mother of Cats finished the sweater today and then washed it (WHY does she do these things? That nice yarn absolutely did not deserve to be dumped into water in the sink! I watched it closely and it never did anything that would warrant just extreme measures…).
Would you believe that the Mother of Cats put another layer of towels on top of the sweater so I couldn’t got to the wet wool? WHY DOES SHE DO THESE THINGS? Now we need to wait another day or two before we can take the picture of the finished sweater. Oh wait… maybe we will get to go outside to do that!! Things may be looking up.
I love to go outside.
I’m such a good boy.
Can I have some cookies now?
Notes from the Mother of Cats:
I have been making really good progress on the yarn destash project, and by the end of September I had used up or removed 49 skeins from the stash. Feeling really confident on my ability to make the 50 skein goal I went wild and bought that fabulous navy/blue/green yarn from Chasing Rabbits.
I also decided to make this cat for a Christmas present and bought some yarn for that too…
Suddenly I had put another 16 skeins of yarn into the stash. Oops! Panic knitting time!! I cranked up into overdrive and began on an Understated Sweater by Joji Locatelli last week and cast it off today. My project notes are here. 6 skeins polished off just like that! My skein count is now 39 removed from the stash and I am again hopeful that I will make the goal. I do have another sweater that I want to start soon that should consume lots of skeins, so I am hopeful. Then there will be the Christmas knitting…
It is cold and snowy here today, but hopefully I will be able to get a picture of the finished sweater in the next day or two.
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 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!
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’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.
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.
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…
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.
So, there is a thing about my stash that you should know… it is bigger than some yarn stores I have been in. Seriously, there is a lot of yarn in there.
The big mess built up this fall as I knitted like crazy from multiple projects organized into separate bins; the leftovers of the projects and new purchases of yarn just began to pile up in bins on the floor of the stash closet. Yarn stored on the shelves became mixed up and some bins were only half full.
I’m not going to be too defensive here, but it is hard to sort this much yarn into meaningful groupings. I like to sort the yarn by weight, and then into some system based on color or other attribute. MacKenzie and I spent a couple of hours getting the bins sorted again and labeled, and then back onto the shelves they went.
This is a lot of yarn, but I have to be honest here: four of the bins are filled with the leftovers of previous projects. You know, yarn scraps. The yarn for scrappy blankets, socks, and multicolored works. I want to make arm warmers that match some of my larger (faded) shawl projects. I’m thinking a big Stephen West marled sweater project is in the future. I just can’t let any of those scraps go… What if I need to repair a project from 10 years ago or knit a new finger onto a pair of loved, but damaged, gloves (true story!)? I’m pretty sure I could weave some nice, funky fabric for pillows…
The rest is new yarn. Bins of yarn. What is in the bins, you ask? Well… here are some of the titles:
Then there are the bins that are just known as “Worsted” or “Fingering” or “Mitts”. Three of the bins are holding the yarn for single sweater projects. Two bins have yarn for Christmas projects. I need all of this yarn. Really, I do.
Which brings me to reflection and resolutions. I love all of this yarn, but it is time to think about reducing the size of the stash. Some of it has been given away, and some of it has already been organized into new projects that I will knit this coming year. I thought of limiting myself to only stash knitting, but that is beyond hope; sometimes you just need that additional perfect skein to make a sweater work. Endless socks will be arriving as I knit my way through all of the Chasing Rabbits bin. Charity knitting is in my future. Still, how to measure progress?
Last year I completed 39 projects. Some of them were little (mitts and gnomes), and others were large like the What the Fade?! shawl and the sweaters. I guess I could just decide to complete a number of projects like I did last year, but the problem is the stash; I should focus on the stash!
I have decided to try to knit at least 50 skeins of yarn out of the stash this year. I have been going crazy working out the rules for this… do I measure skeins or grams of yarn. Do I make adjustments for different weights of yarn? Ugh. This is where I am:
A skein is a skein. I won’t consider the weight of the yarn.
If I buy new yarn that is added to the stash, I need to deduct that number of skeins from my total.
Yarn that is bought for a project using stash yarn is neutral as it was consumed in that project. I will just deduct the yarn removed from the stash, not the new yarn.
If only half of the skein is used, it counts as only one half! More than half is counted as a skein.
I’m going to make a spreadsheet to track the yarn. I can do this!
Last night I cast on a sweater using worsted weight yarn that was lurking in the stash. Hey. It will go fast. I’ll use up a bunch of skeins. I won’t have to buy any more yarn. It’s a plan.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Things only got better after I opened up the skein…
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.
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.
All week I’ve been getting ready for the holiday tomorrow. The turkey is in the fridge (and at exactly 2pm tomorrow afternoon he will slide into the oven!), the pies are on the counter, and the rest of the fixings are patiently resting in the fridge. All the cleaning is done except for the last minute vacuuming (hello… cats!), and even the stash has become organized. Through all of this I have also been churning out long mitts that are also arm warmers. It’s cold now. I need arm warmers!!
I have Raynaud’s syndrome; when I get cold I lose circulation to my hands, feet and even my face. It can happen really quickly, too. Look at what happened to me while shopping in the produce section of the grocery store last night!
During the winter I cope by wearing lots of simple layers that can be easily adjusted to adapt to changing conditions. Since I’m a knitter I have lots of socks, hand warmers, and shawls that I can layer on with reckless abandon. Seriously, I’m a walking knitwear advertisement in cold weather. I’m thinking about leg warmers for under my jeans and for my arms… arm warmers!!
The perfect product would be simple arm warmers that could be pulled down over my hands and fingers if I need it (so I put in a slit for my thumb), but could also be worn pulled up my arms to keep my hands free for household tasks like when I’m working with water or cooking (with cold things from the fridge). The warmers also needed to be long enough to pull up my arm, but should also be able to just bunch around my wrist. Snug enough to slide under sweaters, but loose enough to slip over gloves. Multi-purpose warmness. Take that, winter!
So here there are. I’ve made three pairs so far and I have another pair on the needles. I am just rocking these guys.
As you can see, I have many things to be thankful for. My hands aren’t great (thanks, scleroderma), but they work for knitting, and because I knit I’m in better shape than most other patients with my condition. I have Raynaud’s, but because I knit I am able to create product that help me beat it into submission. I am knitting in a time of absolutely fabulous Indy dyed yarns that make me happy with every single stitch. The fabulous colors in the yarn mean that even a simple stockinette item looks great. I am thankful. Very, very thankful.
Hey, maybe you would like some mitts too! Here’s the pattern.
Arm Warmer Mitts
Needles: size 1 (2.25 mm) double point or cable needles. I used 2 16″ cable needles and split the stitches between them. Adjust my directions to fit your needle choice.
Yarn: Fingering or sock yarn. These mitts each took about 250 yards.
1. CO 72 stitches using Old Norwegian CO or any other CO that you are fond of. It needs to be a little stretchy. Join in the round with 36 stitches on each of 2 16″ circular needles. Mark the start of the round.
2. Complete K1P1 ribbing for 12 rounds.
3. Knit rounds in stockinette until mitt length is 4.5 inches from the CO.
4. Decrease: K5, K2tog, PM, K1, SSK, K rest of the round. (70 stitches)
5. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
6. Decrease: Knit until 2 stitches before mark, K2tog, SM, K1, SSK, K rest of the round. (68 stitches)
7. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 once, and then step 6 once more. (64 stitches)
9. Thumb opening: turn the work at the end of the round and purl back on the WS to the start of the round. (remove the mark when you come to it). Turn the work again and knit the RS to the start of the round. Continue turning the work and working rows in stockinette (purl on the WS, knit on the RS) until the thumb gap is 2.0 – 2.5 inches long; check fit on your hand and knit until you like the size of the gap. End with a RS row.
10. Return to knitting rounds. Knit one round, closing the gap for the thumb.
11. Complete K1P1 ribbing for 11 rounds.
12. CO in K1P1 pattern making sure it won’t be too tight around your fingers when worn.
Complete steps 1-3 as for right hand.
4. Decrease: K 62 stitches (10 stitches left in the round) K2tog, PM, K1, SSK, K to end. (70 inches)
5. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
6. Decrease: K until 2 stitches before the mark, K2tog, SM, K1, SSK, K to end of round.
7. K rounds for another 1.5 inches.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 once, and then step 6 once more. (64 stitches)
9-12. Same as for the right hand.
Weave in the ends. Add buttons or other embellishments to mark the tops of the mitts if you wish.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May your day be a good one, and stay warm!
I bet that you were expecting pictures of the fall foliage and some frost on my pumpkins, weren’t you. Nope. All of those things have been happening (but I most admit, most of the great leafy color has fallen to ground at this point), but what I’m talking about is the fabulous knitting colors that appear like magic at this time of year. I love fall knitting (especially since it is powered by pumpkin spice lattes in my case!) and have been bit by excitement as I pile more yarn into my stash, more patterns into my Ravelry shopping cart (I have 169 patterns in there at the moment…) and power up the needles with cool weather knitting.
Last week I finished some cute socks in fall colors during some cold weather with snow outside. I kept pulling them up on my arms to admire the colors and to check on the lace cuff, and I couldn’t help thinking that they would make some cute arm warmers. Hmmm…
Well they almost became arm warmers, but at the end of the day they did manage to become socks. I was, however, completely entranced with the idea of arm warmers that were also mitts with no thumbs. I wanted to be able to pull these things up onto my arms while working in the kitchen, but also able to have over my hands while knitting. Not too tight so I could wear them over long sleeved shirts or gloves. Not too bulky so that I would be able to wear the arm warmers/mitts under sweaters. I wanted warm!! My poor Raynaud’s inflicted hands demanded them.
Ta-daa!! Check these out!
Aren’t those colors great? This is the purple yarn that I showed off in an earlier post. I still have some bright, happy gold colored yarn to use as a contrast; I’m torn whether to use the yarns for a pair of Jelly Roll socks or perhaps brioche stitch cuffs with both colors. Brioche could be fun…
Did you glimpse the rosy rust colored knitting below the mitt? That is the sweater that I am working and working on. I just love the feel of the fabric and the pattern is one that I’ve done before so I know that I will love the finished product, but the simple, one-color stockinette demands that I take some breaks into some pattern or color excitement. I keep getting pulled into some socks and mitts, but each shot of cold weather finds me working like a fiend on the sweater again. I hope to have it done by Thanksgiving.
Thursday I knitted faithfully on the sweater and got another couple of inches on to the body, but this morning I went hunting for another cute yarn for mitts. Why, look at this! I have some grey yarn with a rainbow strip from Chasing Rabbits that just totally wants to be mitts. It is nagging me somewhat desperately. What is a kindhearted, cold-armed knitted to do?
I cast on, of course!!
I wrote up the pattern (such as it is…) and placed it in the notes of the Ravelry project page for the arm warmers/mitts. With this second pair I hope to clean up the opening for the thumbhole. Maybe there will be some ribbing around it? Hmmm…
Anyway, if you would like your own pair feel free to check out what I did. Add/subtract stitches to fit your own arm or needs.