To be frank, the Mother of Cats has been out of control for days. She has been working on this shawl that is using a stitch that she calls “brioche”. Lots of brioche. Brioche in color after color.
I cannot believe that she is acting this way. This brioche is the yummiest knitting that she has done in quite a while. So squishy. So wonderful under my paws. So perfect for a new cat blanket…
Nope. She is refusing to let me take a nice nap on this blanket. She let the smelly starfish touch the blanket, but me, her most devoted kitty, not a chance! I am concerned about her priorities. I’m not sure that she still loves me the way that she used to.
Last night she finally finished the brioche portion of the shawl and started on the garter stitch section. Garter stitch! I like garter stitch too. The way this shawl is growing there is no way she will be able to keep me off of it. Ha! Take that Mother of Cats!
I’m such a good boy.
Can I have some cookies now?
Notes from the Mother of Cats: This shawl is the What the Fade?! shawl by Andrea Mowry. My project notes are here on Ravelry. I am proud to announce that I found every single one of these yarns in the stash (with my sidekick MacKenzie helping me dig through bins…) and didn’t have to resort to any shopping to close color gaps in the fade. Yay, stash!!
A couple of weeks ago I had trouble breathing, called my doctor’s office, and the nurse there called 911 for me. Wow. What an experience that was. Okay, it was a little surreal to be frank. One of the things that happened was the paramedic, after he had placed a needle in my arm vein, attached me to heart monitors and then placed me on oxygen, told me how much he liked my watercolor paintings of cats. What? This is really happening? Panting for air, I struggled for a moment to think of what he was talking about.
Those aren’t really watercolor paintings, but they sure do look like it, I suppose. They are actually art quilts made with handpainted fabrics that give them their “watercolor” look.
The patterns for the quilts came from McKenna Ryan and I bought them at a local quilt store years ago. Over months I slowly assembled the fabric stash to get the colors that I wanted, and then I created the quilts in my own colors to make them show cats that I have known and loved over my life. These three cats are Morgan (the yellow sunflower cat), Zach (the tuxedo cat) and Teak (my beloved Siamese cat). I love these quilts, especially because of the quality of the dyes on the fabric and the way the colors work together.
So, do you think that I am a sucker for handpainted yarn? Oh, my lord, that would be a huge YES!
The week after the exciting and exhausting ambulance ride my BKB (best knitting bud) Deb and I went up to the Interweave Yarn Fest to do some quality shopping.
Don’t those yarns look a lot like the colors that are in the quilts?
I saw these yarns and I was gone. I didn’t even do my usual pass through the entire yarn show before buying anything. I just started piling up the yarn that I wanted and that was that. I bought 11 skeins of fabulous, water-colorish yarns and wanted more. Let me show you what I got.
Here’s the thing. Looking at these yarns, I realized that they are the colors of the quilts. Watercolors. Colors that make me smile inside. The colors of sunshine, flowers in the garden, cats, and summer days. I look at these yarns, I imagine the projects that they will make shine, and I begin plotting the knitting. And the flowers that I will plant in the garden next month. And the people that I will gift the knitting to. Some projects that will last as long and give me (and hopefully others) as much joy as the watercolor quilts that I have on the wall.
I’ve been wanting to make a Mixology (by Casapinka) for quite a while. One night I printed out the pattern, shopped the stash, gathered up some yarn, and casted on with a sense of reckless abandon. Great yarns, great colors, and I couldn’t wait to see how it would look as I mixed them up in the shawl.
Okay, I have to be honest here; I just don’t do any swatching. Ever. I’m lazy. Maybe I need instant gratification. Anyway, I like to just throw the yarn onto my needles and launch into the project. Besides, how could these colors not work out?
I ripped it off the needles and recycled all of the yarn. I was pretty cheerful about it. I had just bought a few new items for my wardrobe in indigo blue and thought that I should build a Mixology that would go with them. Back into the stash I dived…
The shop sample was a lot smaller than mine. Like 6 inches smaller across then my knitting. Oh, oh. I was first drawn to the shawl/scarf because of the size of this sample. If it is too big it won’t work right. I checked my needle size and the pattern again. Yep. I was using the right needle. Then I checked the gauge. Holy smokes, who ever checks the gauge on a shawl? Well, it might have been nice if I had…
My best friend Deb helped me rip it all out. She’s fearless that way, and is know for her ripping (and cutting) episodes. Hmmm… what a good opportunity to make some yarn color changes. Since I just happened to be in a yarn shop…
I’m approaching the half-way mark on the shawl now and the colors are working out great. I’m going to get a lot of use out of this, and I learned a lot while going through the process. As you can guess, it has taken several weeks to work my way through the different iterations of the Mixology, and there were some big breaks where I just lost myself into a book for an evening and let the knitting sit in a corner to think about what it had done for awhile.
I read a lot, and I’m doing a reading challenge at Goodreads. With a sense of optimism I committed to reading 50 books this year. Book after book, week after week, I have been chomping my way through mysteries, science fiction and popular novels. I rate all of the books at Goodreads, and they almost always get 3 or 4 stars (out of a possible 5). I usually like all of the books that I read, and they certainly keep me entertained, but I long for a book that is well written, with characters of real depth, and a sense of magic. I don’t want to know where the book is going before I get there. I want to feel impacted by the book. I want 5 stars!
Well, during the various Mixology melt-downs and knitting breaks I found two treasures lurking in my Nook and on the bookshelf. Two remarkable books that deal with death and loss, family dysfunction, grief, crisis, and the eventual coming into their own of the young people who make their way through the emotional storms in each book. Seriously, I’ve been up half the night with each of these. I had no idea that they would deal with similar subjects, but somehow I launched into them back to back, and will treasure each book for quite some time. Here they are: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I highly recommend both of these books.
You know, I did all of that knitting with yarns from the stash (until I got to the last version of Mixology), and both of those books have been with me for months. I need to toss the house to look for other treasures. I wonder what is in the fridge, although things abandoned there are usually dangerous. Still, I’m feeling really hopeful as I write this. I’m going to poke around in the kitchen as soon as I finish this. Chocolate. I bet there is chocolate down there.
I’ve been knitting like crazy and hatching plans. Why, you ask? Well… it’s Olympics time! Time for a great sweater (or two). I’m so excited about getting some serious knitting done while watching the winter games.
Except… I have these WIPs lurking downstairs bleating pitifully. It really is sad. Somehow they know that they are on the verge of being abandoned for weeks to come. For the last few days I’ve taken their cries to heart and have been knitting on them like crazy. Here they are:
Socks are fast. I can almost knit the Dave one while reading. If I work really steady on these I might, just might, get them done before the start of the Olympics.
That just leaves the Mixology Scarf. Right. That is so not going to happen.
I love the colors of the shawl. I’m completely intrigued to discover how all the different colors will interact with each other. I couldn’t wait to get started on it the day that I cast on. I still am really happy about it.
Poor thing. It is going to be hibernating until I get those Olympic projects done. I have to knit a sweater. It is TRADITION!! I’ve done it for 4 years in a row, and I really need a new sweater. I live in Colorado, and March is typically our snowiest month. I’ll be rocking the new knit as I shovel my way free after some storm or another.
But during the storm I’ll be knitting on Mixology. Hang on, little guy. Your day is coming.
In case you’re wondering:
I do know about Ravellenics. I struggle with a official, online commitment when it comes to knitting, but … maybe it is time for me to get my feet wet. There has to be a sweater event, right?
I’ve made an organizational chart of yarns, patterns, and am trying to decide which sweater to start on during the opening of the games. I have a wonderful bluish grey Rios yarn, but there is also some happy red Lamb’s Pride calling my name. Both are cold weather sweater yarns. Can you feel a new post coming?
The local yarn store where I knit, Colorful Yarns, has a sample shawl displayed just inside the front door. My best knitting bud (that would be Deb, the utterly fearless and adventurous knitter) and I kept looking at it and trying it on. So cute. Just the right size. Brioche. Garter. Shawl lust occurred. The sample was knit in black and a golden yellow multi yarn… not my colors, but I could see the potential. The pattern, Marfa, and I went home together when I left that afternoon.
I’m not going to lie. The brioche and I had some misunderstandings at first. The pattern and I had some disagreements and mistakes were made. The cats insisted that they should get their claws into the squishy yumminess and had to be put into time out (AKA the garage).
Last week I cast off, blocked, and took it out for some pictures.
I haven’t woven in the ends yet, but it is done, right? Ha! I’ll get to it in the next day or so. I’m waiting for some snow.
So, last year didn’t end quite as well as I had hoped. I was in a flare of my autoimmune diseases (systemic sclerosis and Sjogren’s Syndrome), drowning in fatigue and befuddled with brain fog. Ugh. Not the best for knitting or anything else come to think of it. Christmas shopping was a challenge, Christmas cooking didn’t happen (expect for a cheesecake!), and I took almost a month to do one knitting projects (ahem… the Turkish Hell Socks).
This, however, is a new year. As in, my energy is coming back, I rediscovered my special cache of “yarns I love beyond all reason” (seriously, that is the label that I put on the storage bin…), and I started casting on with abandon. I have had these projects waiting to go for weeks and weeks, my needles were empty, and… knitting happened!!
My niece in Virginia contacted me right at the end of the year to ask if I could make her some fingerless mitts and a pair of the ones with dragon scales for her to gift to her own niece. Wow. Time flies. This is a sort-of grandniece who is now an adult. How did I get here so quickly? Anyway, you know I bought the supplies the weekend before New Years and here are the finished mitts.
I also have two pairs of socks and a couple of shawls on the needles. Crazy, right. The socks are for simple knitting while doing errands, and the shawls are for binge television watching and long evening knitting. I don’t want to bore you with all the pictures of knitting bits on needles, but this Marfa shawl is totally worth a picture.
I have to admit, I have already started digging in the stash to put together the yarns for another of these brioche shawls. I need to seriously cruise Ravelry to see what else is there. Brioche love. Who knew?
Finally, I have had a sweater all knitted up and stored in a plastic bin waiting to get finished. For weeks. Kind of embarrassing as this sweater was knit from the neck down and needed very little finishing. In my defense, I was hunting for the perfect buttons. Feeling pretty good about myself after I completed the hat I took it out one afternoon and finished it up just in time for a weekend snow storm.
You know what they say, start out as you mean to go. I’m feeling pretty good now, I’m catching up on chores, and the knitting is just jumping off of my needles. Way to go, 2018.
We’re having snow here tomorrow. I’m ready, winter. Bring it on!
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.
I’m such a good boy.
Can I have some cookies now?
Notes from the Mother of Cats:
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.