Mixology Mayhem and Two Good Books

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.

Yarns for shawl.
Look at these happy colors. Won’t these be a lot of fun in the mash-up of Mixology

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?

The knitting has a lot of colors changes at the beginning. So far, looking good! MacKenzie: cat toy!! 
As I kept knitting I began to question my choices. Gee, the pink is awfully bright and the yellow variegated yarn isn’t really pulling its weight. Where did all of that green come from and where did the blue go? What can I actually wear this thing with in my closet? I should have asked myself that sooner, but in my defense, I was seduced by the yarn…

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…

Yarn for shawl.
There. Don’t these look like they would like to play with my new denim jacket and dress?
Here it is. Mixology 2.0. I love the colors. My best friend said something about it being dark, but I had faith in the colors to come. I went out to look at the shop sample to see how the whole color sequence would work out.

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…

Yarns for shawl.
Behold: Mixology 3.0. I added a couple of Baah! La Jolla yarns that added more variation and bridged the red and blue a little better.
I went down a needle size and I’m exactly at the gauge that I want. I just love how the colors are working together. It’s a keeper!

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.

Meet the knitting break books.

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.

Cat peaking from under blanket.
Yellow Boy: and maybe you could find us some cat cookies while you’re own there!!

Have a good rest of the week everyone.


On My Needles: Two Socks and a Scarf

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:

These are simple vanilla socks in the pattern by Rachel Coopey called “Dave“. The yarn is a really nice sock yarn from madelinetosh called twist light. This is a simple pattern. Don’t you think I should get these done before Friday night?
These socks have been languishing for way too long. Another Rachel Coopey pattern, “Eugene“, they are being knitted from a sock blank dyed by Bonkers. The sock has an interesting pattern that you can’t see well because of the kinky yarn (hey, it was unraveled from the sock blank. It’s trying to be good…), but I think it will look really cool as soon as I finish knitting and block the socks.

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.

Knitted fabric.
Here’s the beginning of the shawl. Nice, huh. I only have about 6 more feet of knitting to go. This is Mixology by Casapinka.

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?


Introducing Marfa

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.

Black Elephant Yarns
The shawl really makes contrasting yarns shine. I already had these in my stash waiting: “we want to be a really cool shawl”, they cried.. I let them out of the bin to see how they would play together. The names of the colorways were a little worrisome (She’s Like Heroin and Wasting Light), but they got along okay.
Start of shawl.
Oh, don’t they get along well?

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).

But I got over all of that as the shawl grew. So cool!

Last week I cast off, blocked, and took it out for some pictures.

Close up of knitted fabric.
I just love the way the turquoise in the black peaks through in the brioche.
Finished shawl.
And here is what the whole shawl looks like. This pattern is Marfa by This.Bird.Knits, and my project notes on Ravelry are here.

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.

Hope you all had a great weekend.

Starting the Year Right: Finished Objects Already

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!!

I made myself a cute, cute, cute winter hat. This is the Copycat C.C. Beanie. My project notes on Ravelry are here. I have some more of this yarn and am thinking about how to make fingerless mitts with the same pattern.

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.

DragonPaw Mitts
Pretty darn spectacular, don’t you think? These are actually warmer than you would think, as there is a layer of wool between the aluminum scales and the wearer. I mailed them off to Virginia yesterday. My Ravelry notes are here.

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.

Shawl on the needles.
This triangular Marfa shawl is garter stitch with strips of two color brioche. After a couple of false starts (and some frogging) I am rocking the brioche and really loving the way this looks. My Ravelry page for this project is here.

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.

Buttons being sew onto the sweater.
These simple wooded buttons aren’t all that special, but they were certainly hard to find. I needed them to be exactly the right size with two holes big enough for the yarn.
Here’s the finished sweater. My goodness, I do love this pattern. This is the second drijfhout sweater that I’ve made, and it is extremely comfy and versatile. My notes on Ravery are here.

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!

MacKenzie Speaks: Meet the Danzig Shawl

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

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…
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!
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:


  • 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.

Shawl Study: A Trio of Fades


What can I say? A few months ago I was sucked into the “Find Your Fade”  (by Andrea Mowrey) vortex and spent days and days dreaming of color combinations for shawls. I shopped the stash over and over putting different color combinations together. I agonized over strategies to make the colors work in the shawl; should the colors be connected across the shawl (like a quilt) or just cleanly feed into the next color in the sequence. What would happen if I used monochromatic colors? Would it work to use colors more than once to continue to anchor the shawl? Why did I not have more speckled yarn in my stash?

This got to be really bad. I would get out of bed in the night to hunt for a skein that I suddenly thought about. I settled on color sequences again and again only to abandon some of the yarns that I loved the most. I took yarns to the LYS to get help from my friends. More skeins were bought and I finally settled down with three sets of yarn hopping up and down demanding to be made into one of these shawls.

I took pictures of the yarn sequences and wrote the knitting order onto the labels of the yarn. I started the Ravelry project pages and committed to the Fade study project. Early in February I cast on the first one, and late last week I finished the three shawl project.

Here they are!

So what did I do different with these three shawl? Check out each shawl’s story below.

Shawl Collage
The first Fade out of the gate…

This shawl really put me through the wringer. I had some great fall-colored yarn from Dream in Color, so I decided to use it to center the shawl. Every yarn that I used matched to the Dream yarn (the middle yarn between the red and purple in the close-up shots above), and to make it all work I used two skeins of that yarn to make two sequences. I started knitting with a lovely brown, and then ripped it all out, bought a dark red Tosh merino light called Heartheat, and used that instead. Later on I tossed out another yarn that I just loved and used the Heartbeat again in the middle of the shawl to keep the continuity with the Dream yarn. At the end of the shawl I had used only 5 colors of yarn and tossed out even more contenders. I think I needed to stop thinking about the concept of a “Fade” and did better concentrating on what would make a truly lovely and useful shawl for me. My Ravelry notes and yarn sequence is here.

Shawl Collage
March knitting found me hard at work on the second Fade.

The second shawl was so easy to put together. I had three amazing silk/alpaca yarns in  shades of gold, brown and deep red that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last year. They went nicely together, but they were really monochromatic. Digging in the stash I quickly found a blue that wanted to play with the golden-brown yarn, and the dark gray yarn linked cleanly to the blue. Great. I had 5 yarns, and wasn’t quite sure how to link them. Oh, wait. Speckled yarns!! I looked at Tosh Merino Light online and realized that skeins of Yoko and Marfa would make the transitions work cleanly. Ta-daa. Not a gradient, but every yarn gets along with the ones next to it. This shawl is great with almost everything that I wear, and even better I never questioned my color choices while knitting it; no struggles or dashes back to the LYS. My Ravelry notes and the yarn order are here.

Shawl Collage
April knitting was the fun spring/summer shawl. 

My last shawl is the one that is most like a “Fade” in that the colors cleanly connect from each skein to the next, but there is a lot of continuity between the colors across the shawl.  The difference in the textures of the shawl yarns became another type of study as I knitted. The Alegria was wonderfully squishy and bouncy. I loved the way the Dream in Color Jilly showed off the lace (the detail in the picture above with MacKenzie’s paw on it) and while the color of the Hedgehog Fibers yarn was beautifully rich, it was a nightmare to knit as it had the life of string and was splitty to boot. The Ravelry notes and yarn order is here.

So, there they are.

Now that you’ve “met”each shawl, here they are again without those flowers in the way. Each is unique and I’m so happy that I made all three of them. I am, however, done with shawls for awhile.

Yep. Time to get to work on finishing up all my little (emphasis on little) abandoned projects that have been lurking in a basket waiting for me to get back to them. No more shopping the stash for awhile. No decisions. All I have to do is pull out a bag with the yarn, pattern and half finished item and get to work. Even better, these are quick to finish projects like socks, mitts and scarfs. Woohoo! Compared to knitting these shawls it is almost like instant gratification.

MacKenzie is looking forward to having my lap all to himself again, too.

Have a great weekend everyone.

MacKenzie Speaks: The End of Fades

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat  with knitting
I’ve been helping the Mother of Cats knit this shawl for ages…

The Mother of Cats was sucked into the “Find Your Fade” vortex weeks and weeks ago. Yellow Boy and I did everything that we could to save her, but it was hopeless. She has been neglecting us for forever while this has been going on. It has been awful! So far she has knitted up THREE of these shawls.

Cat sleeping on knitting
Do you see how stressed I am?

Finally, finally she finished up all of her silly knitting and took the shawl outside to grab some pictures yesterday.

Not bad for a human, right? I think that she picked some nice colors for this one.
I know that humans can get distracted by my wonderfulness… so here’s another picture that she took (ahem) WITHOUT ME!! I don’t think that I get the respect that I deserve. Anyway, here is the shawl. I just can’t understand why she pushed me out of the picture,
Cat on shawl
…so as soon as she put it down to take some other pictures I moved right in for a little nap. Wow. This is sure nice and squishy. Don’t you think that these are nice colors with my fur? These fade shawls are really nice and big, just right for my cat bed, but they take up ALL the room on her lap while she is knitting them. Seriously, all of this Fade knitting has Yellow Boy and me a little concerned. It is time for some little projects again.

You can imagine our relief when the Mother of Cats told us that she is done knitting Fade shawls for now. Finally!! We have made it to the end of the Fades tunnel. She got out her basket of unloved and abandoned old knitting projects (she calls them WIPs; Yellow Boy thought that she was talking about a new kind of kitty treat and came running. Boy, was he disappointed!) and told us that she would be finishing some of these up before she starts a new project. Right. We’ve heard that before.

This is her basket of little projects that need finishing. She keeps it up high on top of the bookcase so I can’t sleep in it. Why does she do things like that? Doesn’t she love me?
Snow on flowers
Look at what happened overnight!

Today there is too much snow on the ground for us to go outside so we are hanging out inside again. The Mother of Cats is knitting on a pair of socks from her basket and Yellow Boy and I are playing on our new cat tree.

Cat Tree
Look at this!

About time we got a new cat scratching post!! I’ve been forced to use the knitting chair for weeks, and the Mother of Cats just gets upset every time I put a claw on it. She is so emotional. I’m glad that she finally understood that she needs to focus more on my needs.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?


Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This is the third Find You Fade shawl that I’ve knit. The project notes for this one are located here on Ravelry.
  • My first Fade was done in fall colors. You can find it here.
  • The second Fade, one that would look nice with denim, was finished last month. Its Ravelry notes are here.
  • I am now finishing a pair of socks I started months ago. I am going to work through the WIP basket for sure. Really. I’m totally going to be able to ignore that shawl yarn that I kitted up this week with its pattern… I am strong!
  • Should I show off all three shawls together in a post?
  • I also did some beading this week. Wait until I show you my BKB’s bead stash!! (BKB = Best Knitting Buddy)