Hello Summer: Rainy Day Knits

Yesterday was the first day of summer. It was a cold and gloomy day. It rained, it hailed, it snowed in the mountains. The afternoon was filled with flashes of lightening and the booms of thunder. I kept the television on and watched the footage of a storm chaser stalking a supercell on the plains east of me while I knitted. (Here’s a supercell shot by Meteorologist Cory Reppenhagen last month.) Yep, just another crazy day in Colorado.

Hello summer. I thought you would never get here.

There has been so much water over the last two weeks it has been astonishing. I’m not complaining, really I’m not. The water is free, I don’t have to pay to put any on the lawn, and unlike many others in the United States, I haven’t sustained damage. Okay, the roses have taken a couple of hits and there was the matter of a destroyed tree, but I’m still grateful that we weren’t hit by a flash flood (even through the phone went off with a flash flood alert one day this week…) or baseball sized hail. Life is good.

I’ve been attacking the yard in the short rain-free openings in the weather, but mostly I have been knitting. There has been lots of knitting. Check it out:

I’ve made a lot of progress on a Suburban Wrap (Joji Locatelli) for my extremely knitworthy niece. This is such a fun knit: because of the color and pattern changes I just keep knitting and knitting so that I can get to the next fabulous section. My project notes are here.
I’m also knitting on my new arm warmers that will match my No. 5 Union Street socks that I made a few weeks ago. I’m having so much fun knitting on these in the evenings while listening to The Clockmaker’s Daughter. The book is excellent, full of rich detail and compelling characters who are introduced as the story evolves; the story is centered around a remarkable old home. How fitting that I’m listening to this book as I knit arm warmers that are designed to reflect the architectural details of an old home located at No. 5 Union Street in Stonington, Connecticut.  My project notes are here.
I have another What the Fade?! shawl going too. I love brioche knitting (after surviving a rather traumatizing learning curve that left me dreaming nightmares that involved picking up dropped brioche stitches…), and this shawl is the one that I pick up in the evenings while binge watching Netflix. My project notes are here.
Finally I have this little sock going as there always has to be a small project that can be stuffed into a bag that can head out on a trip with me at a moments notice. This is another of my ubiquitous 64 stitch vanilla socks based on the Dave pattern by Rachel Coopey.

Today is the second day of summer, and guess what is happening outside? Yep, you guessed it: it is raining!

As soon as I get this posted I will be settling down to knit. Again. June is going to be a pretty productive month when I total up all of the yarn that has been used up this month. The “Get 50 Skeins Out of the Stash” resolution project is looking pretty good at the moment.

I just have to get some of these projects done! Maybe I can just weigh them to figure out how much yarn has been used by the end of June? Must knit faster!

Have a great (knitting) weekend everyone!

MacKenzie Speaks: Busy Days

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat helping hold yarn.
Do you see how much help I am to the Mother of Cats? 

The weather has turned nice and the Mother of Cats and I have been busy working in the yard, knitting lots of projects, and getting yummy things cooked in the kitchen. I love hanging out in the kitchen with the Mother of Cats since she gives me extra attention, cookies, and even plates of tuna. Sometimes the Mother of Cat can be fun. Sometimes.

I have been so busy that I hardly know what to do with myself. Now that I am able to get back into the yard there is a lot for me to do. I need to inspect every corner of the yard, nap in all of my favorite places, make sure that all the other cats in the neighborhood understand that I am back (ahem… I do my business in all the right places…), and then there are the plants that I like to chomp. And bugs! The moths are back and every night I have another epic moth hunt that goes on for hours. The Mother of Cats hates the moths…

Cat munching on catmint in the garden.
The very best thing about summer is that I can get back to my catmint!! I can take naps under this plant when I’m not snacking on it. Next time I chat with all of you about the yard I’ll send some pictures of the flowers. The Mother of Cats likes the flowers, but for me, it is ALL ABOUT THE CHOMPS!!

Unfortunately, the Mother of Cats doesn’t let me stay outside as much as I would like. Always, we have to go back in before I want to. The Mother of Cats just doesn’t place my needs first like she should. She can be so MEAN to me! Okay, there are some thunderstorms in the afternoons… If she loved me she would make them go away so I could stay outside!! Why can’t the Mother of Cats understand how important the outside is?

Cat sleeping with ball of yarn.
But she does let me take care of her yarns while she is knitting in the afternoons.
Cat asleep with knitting.
This knitting is also a blanket for me while the Mother of Cats is taking a break. I kind of like this shawl. It is going to be really big when it is done. My new Blankie!!

The Mother of Cats spent a few days working on the new shawl (a What the Fade?! shawl by Andrea Mowry) and then became completely distracted and started working on some arm warmers to match the socks that she made not that long ago. I can be reasonable… I helped her knit those, too. After only two days of knitting in bed listening to an audiobook she was able to get one of the arm warmers done solely due to my devoted attention. Look at how nice it looks!!

Arm warmers in progress.
I don’t know when she will wear these as it is pretty warm these days, but you never know. For some reason she was just on fire to get these all knitted up. Here are the socks that they will match.

As you can see, I am just terrifically busy. Taking care of the Mother of Cats and the yard is kind of a full time job. Then there is my mouse. Do you remember how badly I needed a mouse? The Mother of Cats bought me a mouse (she says it is a hamster… whatever!) a few months ago and last week she moved her downstairs to be with us in the evenings while we knit.

Cat snoozing with hamster.
I love my mouse! I spend a lot of my time right by the mouse cage every evening when she wakes up for the night. She makes me happy, and the best thing ever is that she RUNS IN A WHEEL! She even has her own little cookies to eat. Miss Pitty-Pat is my best friend these days.

I can’t believe how much I have to do every day.

I am such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • My neighbors (I have the best neighbors in the world!) have been collaborating with me to spruce up our yards. Mulch has been spread on the side yard, a new flower bed started, and I’m even moving bricks to extend the patio/deck area in the back (we all had a brick swap!). Wait until MacKenzie sees the new patio umbrella I bought this weekend!
  • The downside of all this yard work is that sunshine is not kind to people with autoimmune diseases. After a week of bravely tackling yard projects in the late afternoons the flare arrived anyway and I had to hole up in bed for a few days being kind to myself. Not wanting to manipulate multiple balls of yarn with MacKenzie sleeping on my legs I switched over to the small arm warmers. The project notes for them are here. They are based on the No. 5 Union Street socks that I made earlier this spring.
  • I have several other projects going right now, but the major one is the What the Fade?! shawl that I am working on in shades of rusts. My project notes are here.
Yarns for shawl.
Check out the yarns! And no, this new shawl is NOT a blankie for MacKenzie!
  • I’m still deep in my flare, but I am knitting and listening to audiobooks like crazy and eating comfort food ; I am still in charge here, you bad boy autoimmune things!! MacKenzie isn’t happy about not being in the yard all day, but his issue is really with scleroderma, not me. Somehow he isn’t grasping the finer details of the situation… What can I expect? He is a cat. I bossy, self-centered cat who drips entitlement like none other. Seriously, I couldn’t function in a flare without this furry monster at my side. 🙂
  • It looks like we are going to have an epic miller moth season; every time I open the door to the garage another moth flies in. Great. MacKenzie is specializing in 1am moth hunts these days…

FO: No. 5 Union Street Socks

Check these babies out!

Late last night I finished up the new socks. These socks, part of the Stonington Project, are designed to reflect the house at No. 5 Union Street. My project notes are here.
Here is the other side of the socks. As you can see, they are complementary and not exact matches.

These socks were a ton of fun to knit. They kept my interest as I knitted my way through color changes and different textures. The red is “brickwork”, the grey stripes remind me of the siding on the house, and the light grey cable might be the gingerbread details on the cupola… (if you navigate to the Ravelry pattern for these socks you can see pictures of the house).  The heels are Norwegian short row heels, which were new to me, but easy and fun to do. The best part of these socks?

They match my new Haflinger clogs!

I have lots of yarn left over from the socks, and I’m already thinking that I should whip out some matching arm warmers using these colors and textures. But first, I have a few sweaters to get finished.

Have a nice rest-of-the weekend, everyone. I’m off to do some knitting on my Nordiska sweater.

Casting On Again

Last week was great; I finished up a big knitting project, read a good book, baked cookies, and began planting flowers and doing yard work again. Yay! The leaves are bursting out on my trees, the roses are looking good, and I think that we have finally had our last freeze warning. Spring is finally here! Good weather has arrived for a few days, I have energy, and I made lots of progress over some really excellent days.

And yet, there was a downside to getting things done… I suddenly found myself rattling around the house at loose ends. I aimlessly flipped between books on my tablet, unable to find one that would hold my interest. I listlessly looked through knitting patterns, unable to commit. Where is my next project, I asked myself. I dove into the yarn stash hunting for inspiration.

Enough of that, said the stash! Here are some nice yarns, truly excellent colors, and ideas galore. It really does pay off to have a well-fed stash at times like this. Look at what I am casting on for the next round of projects…

I bought these cute shoes over the winter, and they so deserve socks to match their cuteness! What are the shoes, you ask? Those are Haflinger clogs, and my feet love them. 
Here they are! These socks are part of the Stonington Project by Ruth Garbo, and this particular pattern is No. 5 Union Street. How stinking cute can a pair of socks be? My project notes are here.
Yarn for Nordiska sweater.
I had put together the yarns for Nordiska last month but kind of forgot about them while knitting the VNeck Boxy. Yippee! I sang to myself as I pulled the kitted up yarns and pattern out of the stash. I wound the yarns…
cast on and began knitting away Monday. I love the way the “construct” colorway is working up, and the cables that show off the raglan shaping are looking great. Next month is the Estes Park Wool Market; if I knit like crazy I might be able to show off the finished Nordiska then. My project notes are here.
I kept collecting these coral and rust colored yarns through the fall and winter. Unsure of what to do with them, I kept feeding the yarn stash knowing that eventually the right project would come along. Behold! These yarns have told me that they want to be a What the Fade!? shawl. Who am I to argue with them?

So, there we are. I have projects going again and I am excited with the drive to complete more knitted yumminess.

Still hunting for the book, but it is sure to come. I have two audiobook credits to burn, so as soon as I settle on some titles I will be in business.

After all, I need something to listen to while knitting!

Snowmageddon Knitting

Hey, Snowmageddon came, Snowmageddon raged, Snowmageddon left. I don’t mean to be flippant here; this was a really serious storm here in Colorado and we are still in recovery mode. The house shook with the wind, the windows were plastered with snow,  drifts blocked both doors, and there is a new damp stain on one upstairs ceiling. Now, two days after the storm the melt-off is in full swing, the emergency shelters are once again empty, abandoned cars are getting dug out, and the power company is working around the clock to restore power. It will take days to get things closer to normal, but we are getting there.

Face of bear statue buried in snow drift.
I am a lucky, lucky girl. I never lost power, my new furnace kept me warm and toasty, and my neighbors dug out my walks and driveway before I even got up the next morning. 

MacKenzie and I knitted our way right through the storm. Really, best knitting weather ever. Look at what we got done:

Sweater in progress.
I now have both sleeves done on the new Sturgill sweater and am back to working on the body. Why did I do the sleeves before finishing the body? Two words: yarn chicken!!
Socks.
We also took a break from the sweater to work on some simple socks. Hey. They match the sweater!
Cat on shoveled path through the snow.
Today I shoveled a path through the snow on the deck so MacKenzie could go outside. I’m not sure that he appreciated my efforts all that much…
Snow on bush.
…and it is clear that it will be several days before he can hang out under his favorite shrub again. Poor MacKenzie. Cats hate snow!
Happy cat wearing knitted project.
But they sure do help knitting!!

Today it is bright and sunny outside and I’m ready to head off to complete chores for the weekend. Then it will be time for more knitting. I am dying to get the sweater done before it is too warm to wear it!

After all, it is only 5 days until the start of spring.

Have a great (knitting) weekend, everyone!

MacKenzie Speaks: Done, Done, and Done!!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat.
Do you see how innocent I look? I ran out the front door when an Amazon package arrived, forced the Mother of Cats to chase me down in her bathrobe, and then informed her that I needed cookies. What? Cookies are for cats!

A few week ago the Mother of Cats lost control of her stash and cast on project after project. There was an explosion of  WIPs. The project bags and plastic containers were everywhere. I was constantly in trouble for knocking things off the table. So excitable, the Mother of Cats. I don’t think that she has her priorities aligned correctly. Cats are first, always. Everyone knows this!

This week she pulled herself together and got things done. Look at this!

Cat and knitting.
I helped myself to a little yarn chomping while she tried to finish the sleeves of her sweater. I kind of like this thick Brown Sheep yarn because you can get a good chomp on it!
Finished sweater.
Monday the Mother of Cats weaved in all of the ends and the sweater was done! Mohair and wool: perfect for cat naps. The Mother of Cats is thinking of knitting me a little blankie from the extra skeins.
Cowl on author.
Tuesday she finished her new cowl.
Cowl on wooden bear.
By Wednesday the cowl was blocked and finished. I think it looks better on the bear, don’t you?
Cat and sock.
Wednesday she concentrated on getting a sock done and I once again helped myself to some chomping. This thin yarn isn’t as fun to chomp and the Mother of Cats actually YELLED at me to stop. What is wrong with her? Yarn (and cookies) is for cats, right?
Socks.
Tonight they came off the needles and she did the finish work. Look! Here they are… done!!

Wow. Suddenly the Mother of Cats needs to clean up the coffee table by her knitting chair. There are empty needles, knitting patterns, project bags, and yarn scraps everywhere. I can hardly get to my bed with all of this chaos around it. Why does the Mother of Cats lack balance? She should learn from me. It is best to spend the day sleeping, eating, chomping cookies, causing trouble (umm… I might have eaten part of a baby rose bush…), and chasing yarn.

Tomorrow she plans to clean up and to get her last two WIPs finished off so she can WIND MORE YARN!! Oh, I really like to wind yarn.  That is about my favorite thing in the world. The Mother of Cats would struggle to get things done without me.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The sweater is the Daelyn Pullover and will be a great cold weather sweater for me. My project notes are here.
  • The Cowl is the Dissent Cowl; I knit it with MCN in a DK weight from Western Sky Knits. It is very soft, sturdy and warm. Another cold weather star. My project notes are here.
  • The socks are my own pattern to match my new Clinkerbell Cowl by Casapinka. Project notes are here.
  • I have to get a pair of mitts and my thrummed mittens finished. Next week! Tomorrow I am going to wind the yarn for a new sweater!! Sturgill, here I come!!

Knitworthy

It began with a wail (really, you can wail by text…) from my niece in California… MY MITTS ARE HURT!! The wailing continued in the following texts… How could this have happened? I took such good care of them! Suddenly they are falling apart! If I send them to you, can you fix them?

I literally save the leftover yarn from all of my projects just for moments like this one, and I knew that I had the yarn from these mitts, so I said to send them to me and I would see what I could do.

Mitts on magazine cover.
While waiting for the mitts to arrive I hunted down the pattern. They are the Latvian Fingerless Mitts shown on the cover of this magazine (Knitting Traditions, Winter 2011), and they are just beautiful. Just look at that pattern! My niece asked me to make them as soon as the magazine came out, and a few weeks later I sent them to her.

Did you notice the date on the magazine cover? Those mitts were made 8 years ago. Oops. I think that I know what went wrong…

Worn mitts.
Even the most lovingly cared for mitts will eventually wear out. The breaks and worn fibers were right along the edging and thumb where they rubbed against the steering wheel of the car.  Poor babies… nothing is forever.
Dead mitt.
No question about it. The repair job on these mitts would be horrendous. I let her know that they were toast.

Here’s the deal with the mitts. The day that she received them from me she sent back a happy picture of her wearing them with a huge smile on her face. She showed them off on Facebook. She made them the cover picture of her Facebook page. She thanked me again and again over the years as  she continued to wear and enjoy them.

Never, ever, was there a person more knitworthy than my niece!

I told her I would make her some new mitts.

My niece began to send me pictures of wildly intricate and fiddly mitts for me to consider knitting for her. Lots of color, braids, ruffles, bobbles and stranded features. Mitts that a unicorn would be ecstatic to receive. My heart sank. I’m drowning in knitting, and I have also been contacted by another couple of people asking me to spin/knit for them. It is Christmas. I want to go back to knitting some of my projects that were bumped for the holidays. I don’t want to buy more yarn…

Monet Again mitts.
But when this came I was hooked. Hummm… where is this pattern? What do I have in the yarn stash? I must make these!! I must!!

Curse you Pinterest! There is no way I can walk away from the fabulous mitt project now when faced with this!  All objections were abandoned and I committed wholeheartedly to knitting “mitts to die for”.  My niece and I began to track down the pattern and worked in tandem until we had it. These mitts are the project of the Ravelry user Susanmarie, and here is her project page for the mitts. She based the mitts on a sock pattern produced by Blue Moon Fiber Arts called Sauvie Island.  Luckily for me Susanmarie kept fabulous notes on her design, so I’m in pretty good shape as I attempt to make these mitts for my niece, but I needed to hunt down the original sock pattern.  We soon discovered that the pattern was included in a booklet produced by Blue Moon that is now out of print, but more intrepid investigations led us to a PDF version that could be purchased. I bought the sock booklet and my niece will reimburse me. We were in business. Time to stash dive for the yarn!!

Yarn
Check out this color wildness!
Greyscale of yarn.
I wanted to make sure that there would be good contrast between the two yarns to support the stranded colorwork. Yep. This should work!`

A unicorn would cry tears of joy to have mitts made with this yarn. Okay, my niece is not a unicorn, but she has been known to flash hair in some of these bright colors; the colors and the mitt design are screaming her name. I bumped her mitts to the top of the project queue. As soon as the essential Christmas knitting is out of the way I’ll be casting on…

What will happen to the worn out mitts? I have to send them back to my niece because she wants to FRAME THEM!

Never, ever, was there a person more knitworthy than my niece!