Ravellenics Update: Sweater Skeleton Finish Line

It has been cold, cold, cold all week. As in, after a week of cold silliness we finally managed to get above freezing today after snow overnight. This worked pretty well for me, however, as I was deep in the depths of sweater knitting. Thursday I finished the knitting, wet blocked the sweater and left it incased in a towel sandwich blocking on the floor safe from cat interference. Friday I finished seaming the pockets and here it is!

Sweater
it is done! This is Cushman by Isabell Kraemer. My Ravelry project notes are here.

The sweater is more blue than this photo shows, but hey… it was gloomy and snowing outside. The sweater was still too damp to wear, so I won’t be able to show it off to friends for a couple of more days, but last night I posted it on the Sweater Skeleton Finish Line on Ravelry. Ta-da! It is over, and I’m so glad that I did it.

Knitting with a cat.
MacKenzie was my constant companion on the final knitting drive to finish the sleeves.

As I was knitting down the last sleeve Wednesday night I was watching the ladies figure skating at the Olympics. It dawned on me how very international an activity this was. Check this out:

I was watching an Italian skater perform to music with French lyrics at an international competition in South Korea.

The beautiful sweater I was knitting was being made with yarn from Uruguay (Malabrigo Rios) using a pattern written by a German designer (Isabell Kraemer) and knitting needles made in China (Chiaogoo). The stitch markers were ones that I made from hand blown beads made by an artist here in Colorado and Japanese seed beads.

I’m half Swedish, and my cat is an Ocicat, a breed developed from Siamese and Abyssinian cats.

Truly, truly, knitting is an international undertaking. Happy Ravellenics everyone, enjoy the weekend and the final days of the Olympics.

MacKenzie: Whatever. Can I have some cookies now?

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MacKenzie Speaks: Sweater Skeleton Update

Hi. I’m MacKenzie,

Cat
The Mother of Cats has been working really hard on her sweater for the Ravellenics competition. I’ve been helping her all week. She is upset about all the cat hair in the sweater: totally ungrateful!!

It has been almost a whole week of knitting on the sweater. She is mostly cheerful, but there have been a few incidents where she got snappy about me chomping yarn and chasing the needles. It is so hard to support her when she gets like this, but Yellow Boy and I continue to contribute as much as we can. Really, we don’t need all of our fur; happy to share.

Cat and knitting.
The sweater is now so big that is covers me while I’m sitting in her lap.
Cat and knitting.
See what I’m talking about?

Last night towards the end of the ice skating event she spread out the sweater to admire her work and started making sad noises. Really sad noises. Yellow Boy came running to see what was wrong and if she was giving away food.

Cat
What has happened here?

She took the sweater off the needles and did a lot of ripping. RIPPING! WOOHOO!!! I just love ripping! Lots of yarn flying. The ball got away from her and I chased it across the floor. The issue seemed to be about the pockets being on the BACK of the sweater instead of the front, but I have to tell you it was major cat party time. Yay! We cats even chased each other around the house afterwards and Yellow Boy’s fur was just flying everywhere!

Picking up stitches with cat supervision.
Once the party was over I helped her pick up her stitches again. Ugh. BORING… I closely supervised so she wouldn’t make any more mistakes.

Finally she got all the stitches back into order, moved her markers and got ready to start knitting again. This time the pockets will be on the front of the sweater where they belong.

But instead of doing that she packed it all up, got an ice cream bar and went to bed. Seriously? Hello… I think we should get back to work here!

Nope. She stayed in bed. The sweater is still packed up but she plans to get back to work tonight when the Olympics start. Downhill racing. Ice Skating. Skeleton. We will knit then.

Right now I need some cookies!!

I’m such a good boy.

>^..^<

Note from the Mother of Cats: The sweater is Cushman by Isabell Kraemer. My Ravelry notes are here.

Ravellenics Update: Sweater Skeleton Start

I have to be honest here, I was afraid to commit to the Ravellenics. Knitting under a deadline is stressful. Making a sweater can be stressful. Joining a team is stressful. I mean, why should I put myself into the position of committing to something when my overarching goal in life is to maintain a stress-free bubble for myself within the chaos of life. I just emerged from the mother of all flares; best to stay low key.

Yarn
Look at this great Malabrigo Rios. It has been making a ruckus since before Christmas demanding that I make it into a sweater. With pockets. Who am I to argue with a great yarn?

Well, some of you guys really encouraged me to give it a go. Huge shout out to muddlingthroughlifesite and nothingbutknit2 who convinced me to go poke around to see what was going on with Ravellenics. Oh, my goodness. This looks both overwhelming and horribly exciting at the same time. So much information. So many groups and events. SO MUCH FUN!!! There is an event called Sweater Skeleton. Head first! Yay!! You know that I needed to jump into this action. I just needed to find a group and a team.

Hello Chronic Bitches group. You were just what I needed. Who knew there was a group on Ravelry for people with chronic medical conditions to share and support each other? I am now a Chronic Bitch knitting as a member of their team. I have to be honest here… Village Hopelessly Overcommitted was a pretty good fit, too. A support group for people who just keep on buying new needles and casting on while hunting for sources of chocolate to munch on. See… a great fit for me. Still, since I was so worried about staying flare free for the whole 15 days of Ravellenics, I went with Chronic Bitches.

Sweater
I got my yarn wound and all kitted up so I could cast on and begin knitting as soon as the event opened, which was at the start of the Olympics Opening Ceremony. Oops. That’s 4am my time. Okay, knitting started a little later than that on Friday. This sweater is Cushman by Isabell Kraemer.

I binge watched the Olympics and knitted all weekend. Yesterday I reached the point where the sleeves are put onto holders and I am now racing down the body of the sweater.

Sweater in progress.
The colorway of this yarn is “Cirrus Grey”, and the knitted fabric does look a little like a rain cloud. I’m really loving the look of this.

So, I am just rocking along at this point. My gauge is spot on, and I haven’t run into any issues with the yarn or the pattern. It was cold and snowy all weekend, so staying in to knit was perfect. My disease is behaving itself and even the cats are cooperating.

Yesterday I took a little break to go shop the stash to put together the yarn for a couple of new projects. “What the Fade” shawls, to be exact. Crazy. I’m dreaming of new shawls while knitting along on this sweater under a deadline. I yearn to cast on some cute socks. My arms want Valentine’s Day arm warmers.

I may be a Chronic Bitch, but I so belong in Village Hopelessly Overcommitted!!

I’m off to find some chocolate…

The Colors of Fall

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.

Snow on leaves.
Darn. I felt compelled to put in a picture of fall foliage anyways. See what I’m talking about? Look at those colors.!! I must have them in my yarn! 

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!

Fingerless Mitts
Look at that.. there’s a pumpkin after all. These are the finished mitts that exactly meet my cold weather needs. Do you like my fall colored table runner? I’ve put out all the Thanksgiving decorations . Did I mention that I love this time of year?

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…

Finished MItt
Are these cute or what? Perfect for my needs. They allow me to use my hands easily while staying warm, but are easy to push up onto my arms while cooking or doing something that involves water (like bathing a certain yellow cat).

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.

Sweater in progress.
Doesn’t this look nice? This is the Drijfhout sweater by Isabell Kraemer. As you can see, it is knit from the top down and will have a henley type button placket in the front. I plan to use little wooden buttons when I finish it.

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!!

Knitting
This is another Chasing Rabbits yarn in the colorway “Colorful Yarns”, which was created for the LYS where I hang out and knit with my peeps. Pretty cool, huh.

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.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

FO: the drijfhout sweater is done!

Today it turned just darn cold after days and days of spring like weather. I know I’m being a whining baby; it is February after all. The weather people warned us that change was coming so I pulled myself together, sewed the buttons onto the drijfhout sweater and wove in the ends. Ta-da! Here it is!

Finished Sweater
How cute is this?
MacKenzie really likes the finished knit. He’s been particularity insistent on cuddles all day.

I took this picture outside this morning while it was snowing so the light isn’t the best, but it really did turn out nice. The fit is just perfect! You can’t really see the details well in the shot, but the sweater is knit from the top down (no sewing!!) with perfect set-in sleeves. I am just delighted with how nice it looks on me (and I eventually hope to have one of my knitting friends take a picture of me wearing it… you’ll just have to take my word for the fit. 🙂 Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

I’ve also been working like crazy on the Find Your Fade shawl. I’m now in the 5th color and am picking up speed as I slide through the second half of the shawl.

Shawl
The best thing is the majority of these colors came right out of the stash! This shawl is going to be huge, and it sure is turning out to be a stash buster!

I did make some changes to the colors (but you know that I am keeping the purple!). I decided that I wanted a beautiful fall like shawl more than I wanted the type of fade that transforms from one color to another, and I wanted to stick with the rosy colorways. The idea that I’m working with is more like the selection of fabrics for a quilt – each color goes with all of the others and the colors call to each other across the shawl just the way they do in quilts. What do you think of my efforts so far? It’s not a “fade” but it will look good and it makes me happy. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

Stitch Marker
My stitch marker goes with the shawl. 🙂

I made this stitch marker from a hand blown glass bead that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last year. I really like the way it looks on the shawl – I may need to get a chain so I can wear the stitch marker like a necklace with the shawl. There are little circles of gold in the glass in the main body of the bead that really shine in the sun; perfect to go with the shawl!

It’s going to be a good weekend. Cold weather, knitting, and I even have yummy meals planned and a new book to read. Life is good.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Update from Hell: Still Knitting

A couple of weeks ago the bottom fell out from under the Midnight Knitter family: health emergencies, rushes to the emergency room, surgery, a life altering diagnosis of colon cancer for my older son, and the death of a beloved dog. A terrible 10 days.

A week after returning home from the hospital my older son developed complications and once again ended up in the emergency room. Blood clots! Holy smokes, this is not something that I would wish on anyone! Once again we took turns at the hospital and knitted through the wee hours of the morning. It was days before he could go home again.

Buttons on sweater
I finished knitting the drijfhout sweater before I got sick. What do you think of these buttons? I still haven’t attached them or done the finishing work. Soon. Very soon. Then there will be a picture for sure. Project notes are here.

Then the next shoe dropped: even before my older son was out of the hospital again I came down with the plague. Seriously, it had to be plague. It couldn’t have been flu, since I had that shot earlier this year. <snark> Whatever, I got sick. Really sick. Too sick to knit. Ugh. It was bound to happen since I was burning the candle at both ends for days on end and taking chances walking into hospitals with a seriously drugged up immune system, but still … I think that we are due a break here!! After a week in bed I dragged myself up to my younger son’s place and have been recovering with him since then. Now it’s a whole week later and I’m still struggling to get around with a dizzy head and shaky legs, but I am definitely starting to feel more like myself, and I am back to knitting every evening.

Shawl
I’m knitting like crazy on my Find Your Fade shawl. Look!! I’m four colors in and have three to go. I’m still obsessing about making some color changes…. My project notes on Ravelry are here

Tomorrow I will head on home again. Poor MacKenzie! He and Yellow Boy were pretty much abandoned this whole week with only a couple of checks to make sure they had food and water. I know I will be getting an earful from them once I’m back.

Annoyed cat
MacKenzie: What? An earful you say? Just because you ABANDONED us for an ENTIRE week?

Tomorrow my oldest son starts chemo.

I think of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s quote from Knitting Without Tears a lot in times like these. “Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crisis.”

Knit on indeed.

If you’re going through hell, keep knitting.

OK, this is going to be a serious post eventually, but before I talk about the sad and painful stuff that has been going on in the Midnight Knitter family I thought that I should get all the fun stuff out of the way. Therefore I present to you for your admiration my WIPs for the week, a terrific score at the bead store, and the results of way too much creative agonizing.

Sleeve
I made some great progress on the drijfhout sweater over the last two days. I’m almost done with the first sleeve. Like the red stripe?

 

 

Cat wearing Hoodie
Photo credit: kristinroach

I found the perfect pattern to make MacKenzie a cat hoodie with the left over yarn. Won’t this look nice on the big guy? I think that the body of the sweater should be grey stripes and the hood, sleeves and contrast details will be in red. The pattern, by Kristin Roach, is free on Ravelry.

Sheep beads
…and look what was waiting for me at the bead store: sheep!! These will make the cutest stitch markers ever. I scored 10 of the little cuties.

 

 

Now for the creative burn. For reasons that will become obvious later on in the post I have been driving around a lot this week, up at all hours of the night, and longing for comfort knitting.  What could be better to fit the bill than to put together a Find Your Fade shawl? I’ve torn apart the stash a couple of times trying to put together a fade shawl. This is one of those deals where as soon as I started to drift off to sleep I would think of another potential skein to put into the mix. I agonized over it; should the shawl be a gradient or something more like a quilt? I finally dragged a crate of yarn into the LYS to have my friends help me with these decisions and to locate a couple of additional skeins to finish up the fade. Here’s what I ended up with:

Yarns for shawl.
A shawl that plays with rose, gold and rich caramel colors. My friends kept pulling out the purple from the set of yarns, but damn it, I want purple!!! so it went back into the group. The yarns don’t look that different in the picture, but in life they are varied and they play off of each other and pull out highlights in other yarns across the shawl. OK, I still worry about this one.

 

 

 

Yarns for shawl
Fade number two. In this shawl the colors progress from the dark grey counterclockwise around to the rust colored yarn. Several of the yarns are alpaca/silk and the finished shawl will be very yummy. Everyone agrees that this fade is in good shape.

I started the rose gold fade this evening and plan to alternate between the shawls and sweater. Why start with the fade that I’m a little worried about? I need to knit in that purple before my friends and fellow knitting addicts find out what I’ve done. It’s crazy I know. I think it’s actually because I’m the most invested in this shawl.

Now on to the trauma and chaos. Exactly two weeks ago a text arrived late in the evening.  “Call me,” it said. “I think I need to go to hospital. I’m in trouble.” I was on the phone and in the car driving within minutes. It was from a member of my family with diabetes, and he was in diabetic keto acidosis. Off to the hospital we went!

Whew. Scary, but handled. We got him home from the hospital a couple of days later and I settled in to stay with him while he recovered. Then there was a phone call…

Another member of the family had been rushed to the hospital with serious bleeding. Tests, more testing, surgery, and then lab reports: colon cancer. The chemo starts in two weeks.

Then the horrible just kept on coming. His dog had a seizure and died the last night he was in the hospital.

Maybe you’re guessed already. I have two sons, and both of them were struck with serious and life threatening health emergencies within the last two weeks; in truth, the end is not yet in sight. Without any warning the family motto became “our brand is crisis…” There’s nothing for it but to keep on focusing on the one thing before you as everything comes unglued. Food to prepare, prescriptions to fill, my grandson to hug, trips across town, prayers, and endless phone calls.

and knitting.

When you find yourself in hell, keep knitting.