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!

MacKenzie Speaks: The First Week of June

 

Cat
Hi. I’m MacKenzie. The Mother of Cats has spent the day reading a book, so I’ve taken over here to share the week with you.
Living Room
She has been cleaning this week. Crazy. She kept muttering about cat hair, vacuuming, the importance of guarding against wool moths… Impossible to understand! Yellow Boy is very upset because the furniture got moved around…
MacKenzie Waiting for Blanket
and she even washed my cat blanket. Sigh. It took forever for it to dry. I know. I counted.
Flowers
She hung out new flowers on the deck…
Quilt and socks
and sewed a quilt top with roses on it. It’s OK, I guess; the green highlights my eyes. Instead of quilting it, though, she stopped and made matching bed socks.  I don’t know why she stopped quilting. I only messed with the machine a FEW times…
Cat stink eye
She said I was exhausting her. Hey. She washed my blanket. I need to lay on something!!
Cat at door
All the neighborhood children are out of school now and playing out front. She, however, won’t let me go out to play with them.
Cat asking nicely to go out.
I even asked nicely!!
MacKenzie in Cat Mint
Thank heavens I get to play in the backyard. The catmint is coming right along…
Cat in catmint
Sigh. I told Yellow Boy to stop doing that!!
Cat in grass
Well, that’s the week. Its nice and hot outside now, and the Mother of Cats is in the lawn chair reading her book and eating leftover Chinese take out. I’m in camouflage waiting for a moth. Or maybe a garter snake. If that darn squirrel comes down I’ll give him a chase that he won’t quickly forget…

June is for cats!

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The socks are Om Shanti bedsocks by Alice yu.
  • The yarn is Crazy Zauberball in the colorway 2170_Blasser Schimmer
  • The quilt is a kit I found years ago at the Great Amrican Quilt Factory called “Leading Ladies”. Fast, simple, fun. Even with cats who help a little too much.
  • The book is The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin. All knitting activities are basically on hold while I finish this book.

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…

 

 

Christmas Make: Stacking Fabric Bowls

I made my first Christmas make list a few weeks ago and it is getting close enough to the main event for me to start to take things seriously. Usually my family and friends get knitted items; they all have knitted mitts, shawls, cats, and socks from previous years. I had this idea that I would change things up and do some sewing this year. Lord knows I have enough Christmas fabrics! Last week I pulled out everything that looked a little Christmasy from my fabric stash and filled a crate with candidate fabrics. If I sew for a couple of hours each day I should be able to make some real progress on the presents without the usual last-minute stress.

Crate of Fabrics
Well look at this! There must be a few presents in here…

I found several projects and kits from previous years that didn’t get made or finished: a set of placemats, an advent calendar, a table runner and some ornaments. Hey! I should get cracking!  Of course I decided to make something that wasn’t any of those items for my first project. The problem was these exceptionally cute fabrics that all kind of went together…

Fabrics
How happy can a set of Christmas fabrics get? These are the leftovers from some projects I made in the past with one new buy added in. They look like they were made to go together, don’t they, but some of these are over 10 years old.

I decided to made a series of stacking fabric bowls similar to the ones that I made for my sister for her birthday. The dark green solid will be used for the lining of all the bowls except the smallest, and the bowls will be sewn in the order I have the fabric stacked. I even found a variegated thread that I could use. It’s a plan!! Here is the pattern that I found online to use for the bowls.

Quilted squares
The bowls are made by first constructing a series of quilted squares. To make these bowls I created 12″, 11″, 10″, 9″, and 8″ squares. (OK, I have to be honest. That was the size of the squares before I sewed them. The finish squares are actually 1/2″ smaller because of the seams. I decided to not sweat the small details.) 🙂
Quilting
I did the easiest quilting possible for the squares. Isn’t the thread cute? That was why I used the solid green for all of the linings.
Finished bowls
Stitched down darts in each corner create the bowls. Cute, huh. I’m glad that I used a print fabric for the lining of smallest bowl. 

There is enough of some of the fabrics to use them for more bowls (I think that the largest bowl is exactly the right size to hold a Christmas coffee cake or maybe a hand-woven dishtowel with a package of my favorite Christmas cookies…) or to make a set of placemats. I have the perfect family placemat pattern all ready to go and a set from last year that just needs to get some quilting done and the binding attached. I am trying to stay out of the quilt store but I can make everything work if I just add a couple of coordinated fabrics…

Do you see why I have such a big stash? For now I have organized two more set of Christmas bowls and set aside the fabrics for Thanksgiving bowls that I can use next week when I go to my son’s house for the big meal. After that I can attack the table runner and placemats.

So much fabric, so little time. And I thought I had a problem with yarn…

Rocking the Craft Room

This is all Sharon’s fault! I’m referring to Sharon of Creativity and Family. Yesterday I woke up to find that she had posted a long, chatty list of all of her WIPs and projects for the coming winter months. Oh, my goodness! The woman has big dreams and a diverse (and endless) number of projects all lined up. She quilts, knits, crochets, sews, is doing something mysterious with scrabble pieces, and even makes her own yarn from tee-shirts. If you don’t already follow her you should check out her post.

The other thing that I discovered when I woke up was that my wrists, ankles and knees hurt. Like the tendons. Like there is no way that I am going to be knitting anytime in the near future.

This is so not fair! I am just entering the final pattern section and bind-off of the Drachenfels. One more day (or two) and it would be done. I want it, I want it, I want it now!!!  <snif>

Whatever. It’s getting warm again outside and I won’t be wearing a shawl for the next 10 days or so. Lots of time to get it finished. What I decided to do was to channel Sharon, go play in the craft room and shop the stash. If I can’t actually knit, I certainly can organize things, match patterns to yarn/projects and try to create a queue of my future crafting for the coming cold weather months. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

Storage
I already had yarn organized into types and weight. I just had to start pulling out yarn and reorganizing it in the bins with the patterns for my coming projects into some of my spare bins.

I pulled out several boxes of yarn into the main craft room and then discovered that it hurt my wrists to snap open and shut the latches on the boxes. Well, isn’t that special! Lucky for me I’m an old pro with wrist tendinitis. Years ago I had carpal tunnel surgery and spent months in braces. For a few years after that I still wore my braces when doing wrist challenging activities like moving books in my classroom or organizing boxes in the garage. I had to go on a hunt to find them, but eventually my wrist braces were located in a drawer of my desk in the office. I just needed to create some padding to go under them because I have edema in my arms these days (thank you scleroderma!!)

Socks
Well, look at these incredibly ugly hospital socks I got during my last health adventure. Just the ticket.
cutting off the toes of socks
I cut off the toes…
Thumb hole
Cut a slit in the side to make an opening for my thumb…
sock mitts
and I had the perfect padding mitts to go under the braces. 🙂
 Wrist braces
Add the braces and I attackd the bins! These braces look awful but as soon as they are on my wrist feels wonderful. I think I may sleep in them tonight.
Knitting projects
Here is the finished stack of knitting projects. Good grief!!

This was just fun to do. I moved yarn around and got things reorganized to create the project bins. I copied patterns from books and magazines with my printer/scanner so that I could slip the pattern into the bin with the yarn. The big bins contain the yarn and patterns for two sweaters, and the smaller bins have 1-3 projects each. I sat down (on the floor!) with my stack of boxes and the laptop computer and then entered everything into Ravelry to create this queue. In addition to the two sweaters I have 5 shawls, 2 long mitts, 3 socks and 2 hats. I thought about trying to put everything into the actual order that I will do the projects, but that is just crazy thinking. At least I have things into the queue and can move items around as I actually get started. Check out my queue if you want to see what I have lined up. 🙂

Since I was working in the craft room with the sewing machine it was a little hard to ignore the stack of projects on the shelf next to it. I pulled them down and discovered more to do. I had actually forgotten some of this…

Autumn Quilt
Look! This is an autumn themed quilt that I started a year ago and never finished. I just need to get the batting, sandwich the layers and then do the quilting. I’m not showing the whole thing now because… reasons. If I hurry it will be done before Thanksgiving! Stay tuned.
stuff
This is a special edition Colorado themed batik that I bought to sew a Professional Tote Bag with compartments and all the room I need to drag around knitting. The pink fabric and the blue with the small dots to the left is for the linings.
stuff
Unfinished Christmas place mats. I just have to do the quilting and put on the edging. These guys need to get done!!
and last but not least I had decided to make everyone new dishtowels this year
While I’m talking about Christmas, I also organized this idea for Christmas dishtowels. A few years ago I made everyone towels in a plaid design. When I got to the end of the warp I made this scrap with a natural colored weft. I kind of like it, and am thinking that if I get the warp back onto the loom it will make fast towels to give everyone with some of the other things I have planned.

Well, that’s it for now. I have organized and pulled to the front of the pile lots of projects and ideas. I’ve been wearing the braces for two days and my wrists are feeling better. I think that if I protect and rest them for another couple of days I will be good to go with the Drachenfels and hopefully it will be done by the end of next week.

If not I guess I’ll keep the braces on and get the garage cleaned out!

Have a great weekend everyone.