MacKenzie Speaks: Feeling the Magic

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat face
I hope that you haven’t been missing me.

The Mother of Cats and I haven’t really been neglecting all of you. We’ve been very, very busy working on her Marled Magic Sweater. This thing is huge! And very squishy.

Cat kneading knitted item.
See what I mean: squishy!

Every part of this HUGE sweater has mohair stranded with it. The Mother of Cats says that is what makes it “marled”. Whatever. I’m just glad that she is paying attention to my needs.

Cat with knitting.
The best part of the sweater is a section that the Mother of Cats called “brioche” stitch.

The brioche stitch section has cashmere and mohair mixed in the yarn. So nice with my fur. I totally could get into a blanket for my cat bed made out of this stuff…

Close-up of the knitting
See. Here’s a close-up. Doesn’t that look like it would make a great cat bed blanket?

The Mother of Cats has been working steadily on this project, and we are making really good progress.  This afternoon she finished the 6th section of the sweater and took it out for a picture or two. She did not let me go outside with her because I jumped the fence again last week (Hey, there was an ENEMY CAT in my yard again!!) and I’m currently under house arrest. The Mother of Cats is so unstable… why does she overreact like this?

Progress on Project.
Look at this! This is the right side of the sweater (front and back) and the part with the vee shape is the center front. Wouldn’t you like to see what those stripes look like?
Center section stripes.
Here they are. The Mother of Cats used 2 yarns for each color in the stripes, so I had a total of 4 different yarns to chomp on while she was knitting. I had SO much fun! I wonder why the Mother of Cats get so snippy with me?

So that’s all that is going on here. The Mother of Cats and I have been knitting and knitting and knitting while she binge watches Netflix and I help her keep all of her little yarns organized. The sweater is already big enough to be a really nice blanket, but she says there is still a lot of knitting ahead of us. I’ve been such a good boy and so much help she brought me home a present yesterday!

Cat and knitted cat.
Her best friend and knitting buddy Deb made this little friend for me!

It’s a little knitted cat that looks just like me! The Mother of Cats says it is for her birthday, but I know that it was really for me. This afternoon it slept with me in my cat bed. So nice and cuddly! I think that the next one should be stuffed with catnip.

Well, that’s it. The Mother of Cats found some nice purple yarn and a grey mohair to use in the next section of the sweater. She is champing at the bit and can’t wait to start knitting the next section.

Back to the knitting salt mines!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • I actually made an Excel spreadsheet to figure out the colors that I’m using as I make the sweater as I wanted to balance things out and needed to plan ahead.  I’m not out of control at all!
  • I’m struggling with the Ravelry project page: so many yarns to record! I finally started listing the yarns for each section in the notes section, and I need to update the list of yarns that I’m using. I plan to do that when I finally get done.
  • It is clear that this sweater will be large; I can’t wait to be folded in its cushy yumminess this winter.
  • My friend Deb is developing the patterns for the floppies that she creates for her daughter and others. She has made a bunny, panda, and now my cat. I’ll alert you all as soon as her patterns go up on Ravelry.
  • Knitted cat
    Isn’t this the cutest? He sits up really well and is the most perfect floppy cat ever!!
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When in doubt, rip it out!

As you can guess from the title of this post, I hit the wall yesterday. I had been knitting for days with a growing sense that my projects *sucked* and should not see the light of day. The colors, fit or the overall concept was just off. I wanted to believe, really, I did. Yet, why knit something that won’t make you happy in the end? Pushing through on an unhappy project is probably always a bad decision.

Eclipse Knitting
Not that I’m an unhappy knitter. 🙂 Check out me (right) and my best knitting buddy Deb knitting through the eclipse last Monday. 

Yesterday morning I reached that magic moment (after texting Deb first) when I whipped out the needles from TWO DIFFERENT PROJECTS and then either put the knitted fabric into a corner to think about what it had done (a sweater) or rewound the yarn back into a ball to be re-knit (a sock).

Let’s start with the sock. I found this fabulous sock blank (I now think that sock blanks may be the best things since sliced bread…) and decided to play around with knitting a simple sock with a lace top.

Cuff of Sock
Sitting outside with MacKenzie I cast on a simple lace on one set of needles using yarn from the stash, began the ribbing for the sock with the blank on a second set of needles, and then joined them at the bottom of the ribbing. Cute, right? That sock blank is from Greenwood Fiberworks. Don’t you love the sparkles?

Right away I knew that things weren’t quite right. I make my socks in 2.25 mm needles with 64 stitches. Since the lace was a multiple of 6 stitches, I tried knitting the cuff with 66 stitches and then decreased to 64 stitches right before the join. The lace was a little too snug. The color wasn’t quite right. I kept looking at it and telling myself that it would look better as I got to the darker colors in the blank.

Sock
I’m almost done, and I still am not happy with the lace. It is too dark, and it doesn’t stick up enough, and it looked even worse on my leg as it was too snug. The color of the sock looks dull; it is that darn lace! I should have made the ribbing shorter. I should have made the lace whiter.  Why did I use that blue yarn for the afterthought heel placement: picking up stitches will be a nightmare! I hated it.

To make things worse I made a mistake on the heel (too many stitches in that section that will be the afterthought heel) and when I got to the toe I found out that I had 6 more stitches on the top than the bottom of the foot. How did I do that? The whole thing was a disappointment.

New Sock.
Whap! I pulled out the needles, ripped like crazy and had the yarn rewound for knitting in just a few minutes. 

A hunt through the stash found some Bare Hare from KnitPicks that became the new knitted cuff, and this time I cast on 72 stitches for the cuff, and decreased to 64 stitches a couple of rows before the join. The ribbing is now shorter. The sock colors look brighter. I’m much happier with this look.

Good fitting cuff on sock.
Now the sock fits my leg perfectly! Here’s the project notes on Ravelry.

I also entered the unhappy zone with the Marled Magic Sweater. I was making lots of color changes and trying to channel Stephen West while I knitted. You know what, I need to be true to myself and I should knit using the colors and vision that I had when I bought the yarns that are singing the Marled Magic song to me.

Sweater in Progress.
Really cool, but I’m being overwhelmed by all of the color striping, and I don’t think that the yarns themselves are shining like they should.

These yarns are fabulous, but they are hidden by all the color changes. I mean, look at them. I love each one of these guys. They are bursting with potential.

Yarn
Aren’t these great? I pruned out the partial skeins and kept yarns that made this collection of rose, purple and blue with lots of gray overtones.

I pulled the sweater off the needles, put the fabric off to the side, and cast on again. I picked one yarn that I loved and one mohair to go with it, and I’m going to knit the whole first block with just those two yarns. Since the sweater is a modular construction I’m going to focus on balancing colors between the blocks to make this sweater shine for me. It will be great!

First block of knitting.
Now the subtle colors in this yarn can strut their stuff. I’m really happy with the block that is emerging. That mohair makes the fabric feel fabulous, too.

I’m happy and knitting like the wind again. I can’t wait to get to the second block of this sweater. I think I’ll use one of the yarns with a lot of rose in it with a silver gray mohair. Then I’ll go with a black yarn and purple mohair. This is a way to approach the sweater that I can deal with.

Mother of Cats Sweatshirt.
Look at what my niece in California sent me last week! I’m so happy. I can’t wait for cooler weather so I can wear it.

Cooler weather! In just another month there may be snow in the forecast.

Time to make the magic happen and to crank out that sweater! I am on fire and knitting like crazy now.

Have a good week everyone.

PS: As I type this I am watching the news coverage about the horrific natural disaster that is unfolding in Texas and Louisiana here in America. My heart is broken for all of those who are displaced and dealing with disaster in their communities.  Hugs to all of you who are affected by this, and stay safe.

WIPs this Week: Marled Magic Sweater and More Jelly Rolls

I really dug in and worked on my Marled Magic sweater this week. So many colors. So many combinations. So much fun. Seriously, this is addictive knitting at its best with a big side of stash busting. I blogged about this project earlier and showed off all of the yarn I had collected to use in the sweater. I am now well into the second section of the sweater and I am feeling the magic for sure. This sweater is going to be great this winter and I am having a great time dreaming/knitting it.

Sweater in Progress.
The gray colored section at top is the first one in the sweater. I am now about half way done with the pink section in the lower part of the picture.

The sweater is knitted with one strand of fingering yarn held together with one strand of mohair. As the two are knitted together they create the marled look of the fabric.

Closeup of Knitting.
In the first section I used a single gray mohair from the stash with different fingerings that were mostly gray with pink and purple highlights.
Knitting Closeup.
In this second section I am using yarn that has more color in it and I am knitting it with pink, purple , and gray mohair. I am changing both yarn types as I knit to switch up the marl effect.
Yarn
Here are the yarns that I’m using in this second section. 

I’m have over a dozen different yarns in this section, and I have to lug around the box of yarns while I’m knitting. So… I admit it. I lost control. I cast on a small project that is easy to carry around to work on while away from home.

Sock
More Jelly Rolls socks!

I couldn’t help it. These yarns are in the bins that I’m using on the big sweater project, and as I dug through yarns to put together the combos for the second sweater section I noticed that speckled yarn. It was near the solid blue yarn, but there were those black specks in the speckled yarn too…  I started to dream about how they would look as a sock combination. Cute, right? Here are my project notes with the yarns that I used for these Jelly Rolls. There are some other sock combinations calling to me already that I’m trying to ignore while I keep working on the sweater.

It’s just crazy to think that I would have only one project going at a time.

If I cast on ANOTHER sock I may need to go buy some more needles.

Oh, little things like that have never stopped me before! 🙂

Have a good (knitting) weekend, everyone.

Embracing the Sock Blank: Part 2

It all started when I saw these sock blanks near the front door of Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins in Boulder, Colorado. So cute! Such happy colors! I had to have them.

Sock Blanks
See what I mean? Who can resist colors like these?

These are single-strand sock blanks dyed by The Hummingbird Moon, and I blogged about learning how to handle the blank to create TAAT socks that matched here. I learned a lot, loved the final socks, and had a enough yarn left over to make a pair of fingerless mitts.

Or… I could use that leftover yarn with the second sock blank to make a pair of Jelly Rolls socks. Oh. My feet totally need Jelly Rolls! They were practically chanting, Jelly Rolls! Jelly Rolls! Jelly Rolls!

Winding a sock blank.
I wound the second blank into a ball…
Sock being knitted.
…cast on, and started knitting. I’m using the left over yarn for the contrast color, and the second blank for the main color.
Socks
Here are the finished socks!
Finished Socks.
Because of the double rolls at the top of the sock they stay put on my feet just the way I want them to. 

I am so happy with these socks I’m fighting off an urge to cast on many, many more of them from the huge stockpile of leftovers from past-knit socks. The weather is cooler this week, there are birds flocking in the back yard, and my feet want socks. I can feel the pull of the fingering from the craft room even as I type this, but I am resisting the call.

I’m going back to knitting the Marled Magic sweater. It will be amazing! Stay tuned for further developments. 🙂

Finger Protectors.
The larger needles for the sweater are rubbing against some calcium deposits on a couple of my finger joints (thanks, scleroderma…), so I made some finger protectors using a pattern  that I found on Ravelry. These babies work great. Marled Magic, I am coming for you!

Have a good week everyone!

Ready for the Magic!

I really don’t like to do this, but the first step in recovery is to admit that you have a problem. That assumes, of course, that you are interested in actually recovering from your addiction…

Yarn
I keep buying these gray-toned yarns with flecks of pink and purple in them… I think that I have actually bought five different 2-skein sets of this type of yarn with the idea of making another “Waiting for Rain” shawl.  Maybe, I told myself, it can become ANOTHER Find Your Fade. I’m in my 60’s now, and my hair is starting to go gray…  I’m wearing more black and this yarn will go with my entire wardrobe. Do I need any more excuses? No, not really. This yarn had me at “hello!”

Nope. Not recovering today. There is no problem here. I love yarn, I love to knit, it makes me happy, and there are few things that make you decide to do what makes you feel happy like getting diagnosed with a possibly-fatal autoimmune condition. Oh. For one thing, you notice that the condition of life itself is eventually fatal… whatever have I been waiting for?  Buy yarn. Time to knit!

Still there is the issue of what to do with all of this awesome yarn?

34742949562_b375dd92e1_n

This is the Marled Magic Sweater by Stephen West (photo credit: westknits). Hey, wouldn’t this be the perfect solution to consume that yarn and make something that will carry me through the cold of winter wrapped in absolute cushy yumminess?  Yes, yes it will!! I downloaded the pattern that week and read the directions. Oops. This is going to be challenging and it is going to take a lot of yarn. Stephen suggests that you stock up/locate about 1500 grams of the stuff to make your yarn palette. Good think I have a stash that reflects my true yarn-addiction status.

Pile of yarN.
I pulled out every yarn that I thought I could use and piled it all in a couple of large bins. After that I sorted the yarn into color grouping and sadly make some cuts. Then I made some more cuts. This is what I was left with…
Lace weight yarns.
The marl in the fabric is created by knitting with two strands of yarn held together. I pulled out lace weight yarns in the colorways that I was looking for. This is mostly mohair, silk, and alpaca yarn. I have a lot of the steel gray mohair at the lower right hand corner, and will use the other colors to spice things up.
Yarn collage.
Then I pulled out these fingering weight yarns to accent the gray mix yarns that I started out with: blues, purples and rose/pinks. I have some golds and teals that I put back into the stash, but they may sneak back into the working yarn palette later. I put in the gray Brooklyn Tweed Loft too as Stephen suggested that it be included if possible to help cut the weight and to prevent stretching.

Pretty intimidating, but I am getting ready to so some serious yarn winding and should get the project page on Ravelry started soon. Wow. This is a lot of yarn to enter, and then there will be the notes…

Good thing I am a true addict!!

PS: my rheumatologist told me that I should knit as much as I can to help keep functionality in my hands. Never did medical advice fall on such fertile soil… not that I needed another excuse. 🙂

MacKenzie Speaks: Meet the Danzig Shawl

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat
Do I look a little grumpy here? It’s hot!!

The Mother of Cats has been hard at work getting all of her knitting projects done. The last one in her WIP basket was this shawl that has been dragging on for weeks.

Cat and knitting.
I don’t understand why she is so slow sometimes. I help her as much as I can…
Shawl
Here is her shawl the day that we started it. Nice colors, huh. She got that pink yarn for her birthday last year, and the gray is some yarn that she had in her stash. She won’t let me play in the stash room; I think that she needs to learn to share her toys a little better, don’t you?
Cat sitting on shawl.
We finished knitting the shawl early this week and once it was blocked (WHY does she cover it with towels while it is blocking? Doesn’t she understand how yummy it is to roll around in wet wool?) we took it outside for pictures. Gosh, this is nice and squishy. Too bad it isn’t wet any more…
Stitch Detail.
Look at how cool the stitch is in the colored sections. The Mother of Cats had to keep turning the knitting back and forth to make the “pebbles”, which was exciting for me as I got to whap the yarn every time she made a turn. She called it “short rows”. Whatever. I called it exciting.
Detail of knitting.
She even used a row of the “pebbles” at the edge of the shawl. Yummy!
Shawl
Here’s the big view of the finished shawl. Hmmm… wouldn’t that look nice in my cat bed?

 

Cat in garden.
So that’s it. She’s taking a little break from the knitting while she gets gardening and other stuff done. Me, I’m hanging out in the cat mint staying cool. Maybe a little later I’ll visit with the Enemy Cat from next door… NOT!! Yellow Boy put a claw into him a couple of days ago and that was the last time he come over the fence into OUR YARD!! Good riddance. I must say, I was a little shocked by some of the language that came out of Yellow Boy’s mouth. Who knew he was a secret brawler?

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

Shawl

  • I am very happy with the size and fit of this shawl. After knitting three “Find Your Fade” shawls this one was the perfect size for easy wearing. The pattern is Danzig by Justyna Lorkowska,  and my Ravelry project notes are here.
  • MacKenzie was an adult when I adopted him, and he had picked up quite a few bad habits before he came home with me. Actually, he was a handful, and clearly needed more stimulation than I could provide. I found him a Maine Coon kitten to be his companion, and while MacKenzie is my pet, Yellow Boy is MacKenzie’s baby that he grooms and fusses over. Yellow Boy is easily frightened and has been know to wail from time to time. Who knew he would put Enemy Cat into his place?
  • I started a new sweater a couple of days ago and spent time organizing yarn for the next massive knitting project, the Marled Magic Sweater by Stephen West. He suggested that at least 1500 grams of yarn be gathered up to use in the shawl. Done! I’ll show it off in my next post.

MacKenzie Speaks: Summer is here!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

I couldn’t wait for summer to get here. Bugs, garter snakes, mornings in the swinging lawn chair, lots of late afternoons in the garden…

Hot cat
Ugh… why is it so hot?

How am I supposed to chase bugs? This is all Yellow Boy’s fault, I’m just sure of it. The Mother of Cats says that this is record-breaking heat, whatever that means. I just want it to cool off enough to whap a couple of grasshoppers. Is that too much to ask?

Cat
Why do I get blamed for EVERYTHING?

Anyway, happy summer everyone. The Mother of Cats and I will be spending as much time as we can taking it easy in the swinging lawn chair…

Cat and owner in lawn chair
Aren’t I handsome?

…and when I’m not patrolling to ensure Enemy Cat isn’t in the yard I’ll be on the lookout for moths and hopping things. Hey, summer is for cats!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats: yesterday we set a new heat record in Denver, Colorado, and today we missed the record by a single degree; it is so bad I have to carry the cats in as they refuse to cross the hot deck. We are all outside in the mornings while I drink my latte, water the plants and do a little knitting, then it is inside for weaving, knitting, and cat naps.

Rose
Luckily the roses are loving the heat, and the tomatoes are growing like weeds.

Happy summer everyone.