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: Big Project Days

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat
Would you believe it is 80 degrees out here in the middle of November? That’s a nice thing since the Mother of Cats has been spending all of her time with some NEVER-ENDING projects instead of spending time with me.

First it was the quilt. She completely ignored our needs and sewed and sewed for days. Then she laid everything out on the floor to make a sandwich of some type with this fluffy stuff called batting (That she would not let me roll in! Hello! Cat bait!!) that involved a lot of pinning and muttering. I even got stuck with a pin. NOT nice, Mother of Cats…

Quilt
Look at all of those pins. Why did she have to go and ruin a perfectly yummy cat bed?

Then the sewing started. It went on, and on, and on…

Quilting details.
Somehow she felt compelled to sew around all of the details in the quilt. All of them. Usually the Mother of Cats is pretty balanced, but this was just ridiculous.
Cat on quilt.
I hardly had time to catch a nap between sewing sessions!
Cat helping sewing effort
Finally she finished with the machine and spent a whole day binge watching Longmire on Netflix while she “sewed on the binding”, what ever that means. I really enjoyed hanging out with her while she stitched. It would have been better if she hadn’t moved me around so much. For some reason she just couldn’t settle down and leave the quilt in a comfy position. What is it with her obsession with pins?
Finished Quilt
Whew! It is done. Hey, wait a minute! What is my comfy new quilt doing up on the wall? Thanksgving? Cats don’t care about Thanksgiving. They want cat beds!! Mother of Cats, what are you thinking of?

Then she went shopping for some new toys for us and came back with a big heavy box. Boxes! Yellow Boy and I love boxes! We helped her unpack the whole thing and then she laid out all of these strange wooden pieces. Huh? Strange cat toys…

Cabinet pieces
What a mess. 

She got out tools including the POWER DRILL and that was that for me and Yellow Boy. We evacuated to the outside while she spent the afternoon and early evening putting her new mouse trap together. She says it is to hold her working stash and projects in the television room… whatever. We went out to chase squirrels and hunt bugs after dark. Ha! She totally forgot about us until an hour after our usually coming-in time.

Cabinet
And this is what she ended up with. How are we supposed to play with this? And all of the yarn? It’s put away where we can’t get it! Why isn’t she more sensitive about our needs? Cats need constant attention and entertainment. Yarn entertainment is quality time for cats.

Thank heavens there is still yarn out because she is knitting a sweater. She has been knitting this sweater forever. The yarn she is using is the absolute best for chomping, and I love squishing it with my paws. Imagine how I felt when she dumped all the pieces into the sink and then got them WET.

Cat on blocked sweater
 Oh wait, I do like the smell of wet yarn. Don’t you think it’s the best thing since day-old fish?
Cat
Then the Mother of Cats and I sewed all the pieces together…
Finished sweater
and suddenly it was done! Look! She wore it to her knitting group meeting yesterday.
Detail of sweater back
Check out the back. Don’t those textured stitches look like they belong in a cat bed?

And just like that, after weeks of work, three big projects got done this week. OK, the cabinet was only a day, but it was part of the “get ready for the holidays” effort. For some reason she thinks that the holidays are a big deal. Really, it is a lot of commotion. Cats don’t like commotion.

Hiding cat
See what I mean? This is what just a mention of Christmas does to Yellow Boy. He is not a fan of commotion…

Still, the Mother of Cats cast on several new projects last night to start on the Christmas knitted-presents drive. Lots of bits of yarn. Beads! Loose knitting needles and crochet hooks. Hey, I can help! I’m such a good boy. I love to help with all the Christmas fuss.

Cat face
Can I have some cookies now?

 

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The Grand Stand quilt (pattern 328 by Mountainpeek Creations) was bought as a kit from Holly’s Quilt Cabin. While the original fabrics are long gone it is still a cute design.
  • The sweater is the Guernsey Pullover by Norah Gaughan. This sweater has been going on and on for weeks with lots of help from MacKenzie. The yarn that he loves (as do I) is Malabrigo Rios. You can find my Ravelry notes here.
  • That cabinet was on sale at Target. Having cut my teeth on IKEA furniture I felt empowered to buy it, have them load it into my car and the rest is history. Take that loose knitting projects!

Snowfling Mitts are done!!

…and for the first time in quite a while it isn’t going to snow this weekend. Figures, but who am I to complain. Check these babies out!

Snowfling Mitts
These mitts fit perfectly, are very cushy and warm, and I am so happy with how they came out!
Lining of mitts
and they are lined!! I used superwash merino sock yarn for the lining. 

These mitts are the Snowfling Mitts by Tanis Lavallee. The MJ Yarns American Worsted (the purple painted yarn) was just a little bit smaller in diameter then the Malabrigo Rios (black), so I carried the black yarn in my right hand and the purple in my left while I was knitting the pattern. Since the stitches knit with the left hand are a little larger it all worked out to make a balanced fabric. The American Worsted yarn had a little more twist to it and seemed to be denser, which helped make these mitts really nice and cushy inside where the stands are located. So happy with how it came out. There is just enough room for me to slip a hand warmer into the mitt if I need it.

Here are my project details and notes on Ravelry.

In the middle of the week I mowed my lawn for the very first time this year and took out the lawn furniture. This is a major event; spring has arrived!!

Back yard
Doesn’t this look promising? You wouldn’t know it to look at it but two days before this there was snow all over the grass…  Tomorrow I may go to the nursery to buy some hanging plants for the deck. I’m hopeful that we are done with the snow, but it could still happen. I’m keeping those mittens out for a few weeks before I pack them away to wait the the fall’s first snow.
Drum Carder
Since it was so nice outside I set my drum carder up on the patio table and began working on an alpaca fleece that I’ve been wanting to spin. This fleece is just wonderful. It is sooo soft and the locks opened like a dream. It was a joy to feed it into the carder. 
Cat asleep in alpaca fleece
MacKenzie likes it too!

I’m so happy carding this alpaca I was motivated today to go digging in the fleece stash and found two different wool fleeces that are just amazing grey colors. Wow, my spinning wheel is going to be really, really happy. There is some serious spinning coming his way. I hope that the nice weather holds so I can do most of this carding outside.

Have a great weekend everyone. Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

Rocking the Week #3 I have some finished objects!!

This was such a fun week. I think that I’m just going to throw up some pictures of the main events because, well, don’t you just want to see what I’m making? Of course you do! Here we go. Hang onto your knitting needles and crochet hooks because I am moving fast!!

Socks
My Vanilla Dragon socks are done! These are knit from the toe up with an after-thought heel. The pattern is Vanilla Socks, and the yarn is MJ Yarns Simple Sock in the colorway Purple Dragon. Ravelry notes here. This is a free pattern guys!
Mittens
That Purple Dragon is fun stuff! I started a pair of Snowfling Mitts using the worsted-weight version of the MJ yarn with some black Malabrigo Rios. Hey, it is good practice before I knit these mittens out of my homespun yarn.
Weaving
I have finished weaving my first dish towel and started on a plaid version. . This towel is going to my cousin Ruth Ann. I need to have all the weaving done and off the loom by Easter so I can deliver her towels to her. 
Fingerless mitts
My scleroderma support group meets tomorrow so I also got some more mitts finished to give away.
Yarn
On Wednesday I found the yarns that I needed to put together the kit to knit Exploration Station by Stephen West. The two yarns that aren’t wound yet (the newly found ones) are lace weight. I plan to just knit them double. How about that for a yarn hack!
Dog Hair
While I was at the yarn store one of my friends gave me a bag of Golden Retriever hair to spin for her. Hmmm… doggie yumminess. I’m going to try to convince her to blend the dog down with some soft wool to give the yarn a little bounce. This will be fun. Really.
Crocus
and look what appeared while I was knitting the Purple Dragon socks! I guess spring is on the way.
Slippers
OK, I know that this is a little over the top, but I was so anxious to see how this yarn would work up I cast on last night and started the Dream Club slippers. Fun! They are really cushy because of the Eye of Partridge stitch.

That’s it! That was the week. I also got some beads in the mail to make stitch markers, but you don’t really want to see an envelope from China, do you? I’ll just save that piece of cuteness for the post about those stitch markers. I also had a surge of energy/empowerment that led me to drive two hours in the middle of the week to a hospital up north so that I could get my medical records from all the lung and heart testing I’ve gone through the last two years. I sent an email to one of my doctors that set off a series of phone calls and now some new tests are ordered and I have a referral to a pulmonary specialist. As soon as I go to the clinic this afternoon I can pick up a shiny new inhaler to help me breath.  Empowerment is a good thing!

Have a great week everyone. If you find yourself knitting at midnight, think of me.

 

 

Knitting the Snowpocalypse

I live in a city just east of Denver, Colorado. It snows here. You’d expect that we would all be used to it by now, but each time there is a major storm predicted you’d think it was the end of the world. The grocery store is mobbed. Gasoline sells out at the gas station. There are constant warnings and updates in the media, and a bright red “winter storm warning” message begins to scroll across the bottom of the television screen. Snow trucks begin to roll before the first flake even flies. It is particularly bad when the winter storm is predicted to unfold over several days and double digit snow is expected.

It is the Snowpocalypse!!!

OK, I did go to the grocery store to make sure I had milk and stuff for several days of meals. I filled the car with gas. I went to the yarn store. Hello. I might be cut off for days! I mean, it is the SNOWPOCALYPSE!!!

Yarn
Woohoo! Look at this absolutely beautiful Malibrigo Rios yarn. I am so happy with the last sweater that I made that I decided to make another top-down sweater. Besides, it is the Snowpocalypse, so I probably will need the additional woolly layer to survive while digging myself out of the snow drift encrusted house later…
Sweater start
I picked the pattern Mountain High by Heidi Kirrmaier for my sweater. Isn’t this color nice? It is called Jupiter and reminds me of the planet each time I pick up my needles to knit. I cast on late last week so that I would have something started when the snow arrived Saturday. Here’s what it looked like by Monday morning when we had (an underwhelming) couple of inches on the ground.

The predicted snow storm was actually a two-punch affair; the weekend snow was just the warm-up for the main event. Monday afternoon the snow started in earnest and once the wind picked up it began to drift. Schools were closed, most of my neighbors stayed home from work, and there was almost no traffic on the roads. Lovely. Seriously, it was lovely. I settled down and power knitted for a couple of days with breaks to forage for food (yep. I am seriously recovering from the flu and my appetite has come back was a vengence!) and snow shoveling outings. This morning the sun was out again and I got the last bit of shoveling down.

Snow
It’s a winter wonderland! It isn’t so obvious in the picture, but there is over a foot of snow here and a drift that was almost 2 feet deep lurked at my front door.
Sweater in progress
Look how much of the sweater is now done! Looking good! Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

I am now almost 2 inches below the armholes and it is started to look like a sweater. The yarn feels just wonderful. I am so happy to have so much progress after just a week.

A friend just sent me a message: there is another snow storm predicted for early next week.

Woohoo! Maybe I should head to the knitting store and stock up again.

 

 

 

Cats, Mitts, and Baby Booties

The weather continues to be cold here. It is too cold (and snowy) for the cats to go outside so they have been hanging out upstairs on my bed. OK, the truth is that these two boys aren’t really the best of friends. Yellow Boy (AKA the PuffMuffin) steals all of MacKenzie’s kitty treats and hogs the toys. MacKenzie beats up Yellow Boy when he’s feeling grumpy. When he is cold and can’t go outside he is grumpy a lot. Life is tough for Yellow Boy on snowy days… And yet, here they are huddled together on the bed looking miserable together…

Cold Cats
Only these two would sleep back-to-back trying to stay warm. That little red feather comforter just isn’t cutting it anymore I guess…
Happy Cat
So I went shopping for a new warm throw to put on the bed for them. Instant hit!! Can you feel the purr through the screen? 

Happy (and warm) cats means that I got lots of knitting done without them trying to get warm laying on my legs and shedding clouds of fur. Here’s the week’s accomplishments:

Finished Mitts.
What a shock: I made another pair of the Sugared Maple Mitts (by Melissa Schaschwary ) in the last skein of Zen Yarn Garden Serenity DK. I think that these may be my favorite. They are mine, mine, all mine!! Here are the Ravelry notes.
Mitt
I also made another pair of the cable and rib mitts with the thumb moved over so that the cable would stay parked on top of the hand. Since my sister suggested the change these are now Selma’s Mitts; I made the ribbing at the top and the bottom of this pair a little longer. I think that these are cute: I’ll have to see if I can talk a friend into taking a picture of them on my hand. They are really comfy and I think I’ll write up the pattern to use with the alpaca yarn from Alta Vida Alpacas. This yarn is Malabrigo Rios in the colorway Zarzamora.
Baby Booties
I also got an order for baby booties this week. The new mother requested that they be black (!!!) so that is what I did. The lace doesn’t show as well as it would in a light colored set of booties, but they are still soft, squishy and should work. Look!! Almost all of the snow has melted away because today was windy and warmer. The cats came out to run around while I was taking these photos. Everyone is happy again. This pattern is our family pattern from days of yore but can also be found on Ravelry. The yarn is Anzula Squishy.

I think that I have worked my way through the immediate urge to make mitts. I sent a RSVP for the Scleroderma Holiday Party today and it dawned on me that perhaps I should finish up on the Christmas presents. I have knitting (a shawl and a hat) and some quilting to get finished.

And cookies to bake…

And the decorations to put out…

And I will never hear the end of it if those cats don’t get a Christmas tree to play in…

Good thing I bought them a nice cuddly blanket for the bed. 🙂

 

Christmas Make #2 and More MItt Madness

It’s been a crazy holiday week here with more snow, deep cold and bored, house-bound kitties. We spent the week getting another bit of Christmas sewing done and continued with the mitt making. Well, I sewed and knitted; the kitties chased, chomped and shed fur over everything. Still, it was a productive week. Here’s everything: sorry about the dim light but I haven’t seen the sun for a few days and I finally decided it was best to take pictures inside under the grow light in the sewing room.

Placemat
I finished up all six of the place mats that I started last year and found again when I cleaned out the craft room. I originally had planned to make them as a gift, but now that they are done I realize that they do look pretty nice with my Christmas dishes… The pattern is one that my aunt made for me years ago and no one in the family now knows the original source. 
Pur;ple MItts
Remember these purple Sugared Maple mitts (by Melissa Schaschwary) that I had just started in the Mitt Madness post? 
Purple Fingerless Mitts
They are done! OK, I am still in the grip of mitt madness:  I made them a pair of friends that coordinate in a matching handpaint. These guys are joining the Christmas Makes pile as they are presents for sure. The yarn is Zen Yarn Garden Serenity DK which has 10% cashmere and is big on the yummy scale. Here are the notes on Ravelry.
Start of Red Mitts
I can’t help it. I have one more skein of the Serenity DK in this red mix, so I just cast on ANOTHER pair. 🙂 See how the edge looks a little rounded? The CO for this pattern is one that I had to learn using an online tutorial (by Isolda Teague) called long-tail tubular cast on. It is crazy to learn, but nice and stretchy and allows the mitt cuffs to be knit on size 3 (3.25mm) needles while the body of the mitt is done with size 5 (3.75mm) needles. Now that I understand it I may make it my go-to ribbing CO.
Yarn
Here are the 4 original skeins of the Serenity DK that became a collection of Sugared Maple mitts. I couldn’t help myself; it’s kind of a study in color and texture as I made each of the mitts. It’s madness, I tell you, Mitt Madness. I highly recommend this pattern if you a feeling a similar urge to produce mitts. I think that I have enough yarn left in each color to make one more (shorter) pair of mitts to add to the mitt bin for sale/gift down the road. I mean, look at those colors. How can I not keep turning out mitts with this yarn??
Mitts on the needle
As if the Sugared Maple mitts weren’t enough I also started another pair of mitts like the ones I made for my sister with the thumbs moved underneath. I wanted to see what the design would look like with a wider rib at the top and the bottom of the mitt. I kind of like it, but I wonder if I should try the long-tail tubular cast on in this K2,P2 rib… The yarn is Malabrigo Rios from the stash. I love my stash!! It is a source of instant gratification when these mitt making urges hit me.

It is still snowing here and won’t get above freezing until sometime next week. Guess you all know what I’ll be doing…