2019 Challenges: Crushed Them!

The end of the year is in sight.  I have books that aren’t finished and some projects that still aren’t done, but I’m good with my progress on the three challenges that I set for myself this year. There were three big ones: removing skeins of yarn from my enormous yarn stash, completing and logging knitted projects on Ravelry, and finishing books that I logged on my page at Goodreads. I did really well this year! Here’s the numbers.

Knitting

I set a goal of 30 projects for myself in the Challenge at Ravelry. This was 5 more than last year, and I managed 25 projects the year before, so I was comfortable with the number. Since I was focusing on using up yarn in the stash I really was responsible about logging each project and recording the yarn used and the amounts as best I could. I got lots of things done this year: lots of socks, mitts, sweaters, and some odd items along the way.

Seven sweaters jumped off my needles this year, all of them huge successes; comfy and a joy to wear. Here are some of them (Clockwise from the upper left): Koivua (Caitlin Hunter), Nordiska (Caitlin Hunter), Sturgill (Caitlin Hunter), Daelyn (Isabell Kraemer), and Understated (Joji Locatelli).
I made lots of shawls, socks, fingerless mitts, and even some gnomes this Christmas. The shawl shown here is What the Fade?! by Andrea Mowry and the gnomes are Here We Gnome Again by Sarah Schira.

There were lots of other projects that came off my needles; too many to show here. MacKenzie got a mouse and a blanket. I made cowls, dishcloths, and some thrummed mittens. It was a great year! As of tonight I have completed 48 projects, and the number is actually more as I combined some little projects together in the same Ravelry project page. Knitting goal crushed!

Yarn Destash

I resolved in January to get at least 50 skeins of yarn out of the yarn stash. At my high point in December I had gotten out 75 skeins, but a little trip to my favorite yarn store saw me buying 4 skeins of my most favorite color mohair, more yarn for the cat that I am knitting, and some yarn that I felt I had to grab when I saw it. Nine more skeins walked out of the store with me that day. Whatever. When you deduct the yarn from my total I still got 66 skeins of yarn out of the stash this year. Yarn destash goal crushed!!

Yarn stash.
Not to worry; I still have lots of yarn where those skeins came from in the stash!

Books

Lots of reading happened this year. I began to listen to audiobooks while knitting and once that happened the book count steadily climbed through the year. I set myself a goal of 50 books at Goodreads; as of tonight I have finished 65 books this year. Reading goal crushed!!

I tried to pick my favorite books from the list, but that was too hard. So many 5 star books! Here are some of the ones that really made an impression on me:

Some of my favorites:
    • Where the Crawdads Sing is a magical tale of an isolated young woman, abandoned as a child by almost everyone who should have cared for her, who grows to become a gifted naturalist in her own right. Living with nature in a coastal marsh area, guided by her understanding of the biological systems in the ecosystem around her, she becomes the focus of a murder investigation. Is she the victim of prejudice? Did she do it? Was there actually a crime? You will have to read the book for yourself!
    • Blowout speaks for itself in the title. Hey, I live in Colorado. Oil money is big here, the risks to the population are real, and I remember when we had earthquakes from the fracking operations. Nowadays there is a battle to control how close drilling can be to human habitation in this state; there are a lot of jobs involved, but there was that home that exploded in Firestone, Colorado… Did you know that an early fracking operation in Colorado involved a nuclear explosive that was detonated underground? Yeah. I highly recommend this book.
    • Childen of Ruin speaks to one of my pet peeves in science fiction writing. Why do we always depict aliens as being like us? You know, bipeds who speak and have hands. Beings that think like us. Why should that be? This book goes there using models of intelligence found right here on earth. Octopuses are way smart, but their method of information processing is very different from our own, and they use visual cues in their communication. Portia spiders have object permanence and are canny predators who use a model of problem solving that is formidable and different from our own. Slime molds get together from time to time and act like a multicellular organism… how do they coordinate that trick? Bacteria have more genes in their population than any one member can store; learning is fluid and travels through the population as members swap genes with each other. This book made me think about all these models of intelligence and made me look at my plants and animals with new eyes. One of my jade plants had a slime mold last summer and I put it right outside… best to be safe!
    • The Night Tiger was a huge gift to me. Magic. Dreams. The interface between the spirit world and our own. Tigers who become people, or is it the other way around? It was just a fun, wonderful read with a strong female character in the lead. I loved it.
    • There were so many other 5 stars in my list, but I can’t write about then all. Here’s a list: Ninth House, The Night Fire, The Testaments, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, The Guest Book , The Clockmaker’s Daughter, and The Alice Network all made the list.

So that’s that. I made it through all of my resolved goals and I’m now thinking about new ones. It’s time to take out the spinning wheel and the loom, don’t you think? That, however, will be another post.

MacKenzie Speaks: An Explosion of WIPs

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat and knitting.
Look at how far away from the knitting I am! The Mother of Cats is being mean to me.

The Mother of Cats and I have been making really good progress on her new red sweater. I’m in charge of her yarn while she works because the sweater is getting so big that it whaps me in the face while she is working. I think that the Mother of Cats should just be more careful. She is hard to train, but I keep working with her because… cookies!

Sweater
Do you see how much progress we have made?
Sleeping cat
I try to supervise her closely, but frankly all this red is kind of exhausting.

It is kind of hard on me to never be able to sit on the Mother of Cats lap while she is working. This yarn is not as soft as some of the others that she uses, and she says that knitting with this yarn makes her wrists hurt. What a whiny Mother of Cats! She needs to toughen up some more. Maybe she could catch me some mice in the garage… that would make her wrists feel better. Nope. She won’t even consider getting me some fun mice, but she did look around for some other projects for knitting breaks.

Cat and roving.
I reminded her of this really soft roving that her BKB Deb gave her.

That roving is really soft. It would make a great bed for me. Maybe a new cat blanket?! Did she use it for that? No. She did not!

Thrummed mittens.
She used little scraps of the roving to start making these mittens.

The inside of the mittens will have scraps of the roving to make them really soft and warm. She says these are called thrums. I want this for my bed! Why doesn’t the Mother of Cats do what I want? So difficult, the Mother of Cats!

Mitt Cuff.
The Mother of Cats then got bored and started on these wild mitts for her knitworthy niece in California. She wanted to experiment, she said, and needed to work on smaller needles.
Cat paw on knitting.
Ha! There is no way she can keep me off her lap while working on these. There are two balls of yarn! Maximum yarn chomping opportunities!

The Mother of Cats is getting ready to do the thumb for the wild colored mitts, and decided to take a break to plan the knitting on her computer. She says she is thinking. She is just lazy. She hasn’t been petting me and giving me cookies as much as she should. Lazy.

Dissent Cowl
Do you see what she did last night when she should have been catching me a mouse or getting the cookie container out? She started another knitting project! This one is a cowl. Thank heavens it has two yarns. You know how I feel about yarn chomping and extra balls of yarn.
Socks
Don’t forget, she still has these socks going. She takes them with her in the car to work on when she to sit around in doctor offices.

So that is what happened this week. There are so many projects going I can’t keep them all straight. There are more projects than I have cat toys!! Crazy! Completely unacceptable. She needs to go out and get me some more toys, or at least some premium cat nip, or a live mouse at the least.  I really want a mouse! Why can’t I have a mouse!!

I don’t think that the Mother of Cats loves me. She should stop knitting and get me that mouse right away!!

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<I

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

I just couldn’t help myself. The yarn for the new Daelyn sweater is hard on my wrists and the ends of my fingers are getting sore. It is wonderful yarn, but not superwash and I think that the mohair is making is a little rough on my fingers. Never mind, I told myself, just cast on another project for a break.

Things immediately got out of control:

  • The thrummed mittens will be fabulous. The Ravelry project page is here.
  • The colorful mitts for my niece (Which I blogged about a few weeks ago) are being invented using a booklet from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and another knitter’s project for inspiration. I’m working out the Fair Isle chart for the thumb on my computer now. My project notes with all of that information is here.
  • The socks are being made using the patterns in the Clinkerbell Cowl. Think of them as little clinkerbells for my feet. 🙂 My project notes are here.
  • The cowl is the Dissent Cowl. The minute I saw it I knew that I had to start knitting it. Right now the US government is experiencing a partial shutdown, and friends and neighbors around me are struggling because of it. I am also a child of public servants who spent her entire work life working for her community as a medical researcher and teacher, and I dissent!! I absolutely dissent! I plan to wear this cowl as much as possible and hope I don’t have to head off to public demonstrations in the street, but if it happens I will be sporting this fabulous knitted replication of RBG’s dissent necklace. My project notes are here.

I only managed to use up one new skein of yarn this week, but I’m just knitting on and should get some of these projects done eventually. There should be a big jump in the skein count then. Woohoo! Crazy knitting, a serious case of castonitis and stashbusting at its best. It must have been the super blood wolf moon. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

FO Friday: Week 3, Year 2019

MacKenzie has slept through most of the knitting this week, so I am going to have to post my progress in my own “voice” this week.

Sleeping MacKenzie.
Actually, the only time that I have been able to knit this week has been while he was sleeping.

I think that it is the weather. It snowed over the weekend and the days were gloomy. I had to do errands this week which left him home alone for too many hours; ocicats do not tolerate alone time well. He still misses his brother Yellow Boy. Anyway, when he was up it was all “pet the cat!” all the time. He had absolutely no interest in the knitting or yarn chomping; instead he just climbed on me, head butted my hands to make me pet him and ran his purr engine on high. He is so cute about it the knitting went away each time he showed up at my knitting chair. So, no knitting with cat pictures this week.

In spite of the needy MacKenzie I did get a lot accomplished over the week. Check this out!

Stitch detail of the cowl.
I cast on and started on a Clinkerbell Cowl for myself over the weekend. This MCN DK yarn (another Western Sky Knits score from the Estes Park Wool Market this summer) is just a joy to knit with.
Finished cowl.
By Tuesday I had the cowl done and steam blocked. I just love, love, love this piece and plan to take it out shopping in the snow this afternoon. My Ravelry project notes are here.

I also pulled out a languishing WIP and got knitting on it again. I have several skeins of Brown Sheep yarn that I have had stashed for over 10 years. Now that I am attacking the stash I have pulled myself together and am knitting steadily on this sweater to get it done while it is still cold outside.

Start of sweater.
This is a single ply wool/mohair yarn that is going to be a workhorse for me in this sweater. Can’t you just feel the cushy warmth coming right at you through the picture? You can, can’t you! That’s what I’m talking about.
Progress on my sweater.
Look at how far I got this week!

This sweater is the Daelyn Pullover by Isabell Kraemer, and the second one that I’ve made so I know that it is going to be the perfect warm sweater for casual wear. Okay, let’s be honest. That is just about every day for me these days as I am all about layered wooly comfort that will keep my Raynaud’s under control. This sweater is going to be seeing a lot of wear for sure, hopefully for years to come. My Ravelry project notes are here.

So how am I doing on the 2019 yarn stash challenge? I used up another three skeins of yarn this week!! I am now up to a grand total of 6 skeins for the year; only 44 more to go.

Have a good weekend everyone.

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?

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!