The Yarn Destash Project: End of April Report

What a month it has been. I started April feeling pretty cocky and confident that I was smashing the yarn destash resolution; I had used up 21 skeins of yarn in just three months. I was a knitting machine and I was going to polish off this destash project lickity-split before the end of summer. Look at me! All hail the Midnight Knitter and her flashing knitting needles.

Then there was a slip: the Interweave Yarn Fest. I lost control. I bought yarn. I bought 11 skeins of yarn…

So the yarn total on my little Excel spreadsheet was reset down to 10 skeins. Boohoo! 10 skeins. Whatever. I am a knitting machine. I will catch up. I have this!

Behold my progress this month:

The minute I saw the Geology Socks pattern I wanted to make them. As in… I MUST HAVE THESE SOCKS IMMEDIATELY!! I cast on a total of three times to make the socks, ripping out twice to change the pattern and/or yarn until I had exactly what I wanted. I kept pulling the socks onto my arm so I could admire the pattern. What a shame to hide this great pattern under my pants… behold the Geology Mitts! My project notes are here. Total yarn used: 1/2 skein.
I spent a lot of time cranking out this Sea Swell Shawl, but it was time well spent as this shawl with its perfect drape will be a huge workhorse for me. My project notes are here. Total skeins used: 2 skeins (the lightest grey doesn’t count towards the destash as I bought it this year for this project.)
I’ve been wanting to make a stack of new dish cloths to use in the kitchen with my handwoven dish towels. This month I produced a small stack of Almost Lost Washcloths.  Total skeins used: 2 skeins.

 

I’m also continuing to make progress on my V-Neck Boxy. I’m working my way down the body and have another 6 inches to go before I bind off. This sweater was a little slow to start because of the shoulder and neck shaping, but now that I’m knitting stockinette in the round I am cruising along. Total skeins used so far: 2 skeins.

So there it is: after a month of knitting I have boosted the destash number to 16.5 skeins. I have two projects currently on my needles (the V-Neck Boxy and a pair of simple socks), so it is time to reorganize and get new projects lined up. Oh boy! Time to wind the yarn for my Nordiska sweater! I’m thinking about a new Sea Swell shawl. I want to make some grey and red socks to match my new shoes… I pulled an alpaca fleece from the garage into the house with the thought of spinning a nice rosy brown alpaca yarn to knit with some mohair I bought at Interweave Yarn Fest. I’m energized and gearing up for May: let the knitting begin!

One more little item before I sign off… today is May Day. When I was a child I would hand flowers on the doorknobs of my friends and neighbors. Today I offer up the current state of my blooming orchid.

Happy May Day everyone!

FO Friday: Sea Swell Shawl

It has been a pretty calm week with warm weather and cloudy skies.

The ground cover in my front yarn just burst into bloom in a big way. I always feel like spring is finally here when this phlox begins blooming!

I’m still nursing a sore ankle (the adventure continues… this bad-boy ankle will be it’s own post someday…) so I was able to get a lot of knitting done.

Let be honest here. I got the knitting done because the knitting supervisor and yarn chomper took lots of naps!

I finished the Sea Swell Shawl (by Stephen West) Monday night and got it wet blocked the next day. I really, really like this shawl. Let me introduce you to my current favorite knit:

Look at the colors and the fading and the lace and the wavy drape. Don’t you just love this? Doesn’t it look like it should be swimming in the sea. Like… maybe it should be a marine flatworm? I’m sure I saw a swimming creature like this in one of those Planet Earth videos…

This shawl is knit in wedges that use short rows with some lace to build the pattern. The back of the shawl maintains a constant number of stitches while the increases are built onto the sides and front edges. I didn’t completely understand what this would mean in terms of the drape until I was done with the shawl and wearing it.

The back of the shawl hangs with a uniform length that is just perfect to keep your back and shoulders warm. The lace, wedges and fading really shines here.
The increases built into the front sides of the shawl make it drape beautifully while worn. Notice that the two sides are complementary and not identical.

I wore this all day Wednesday and then took it out to do errands with me this afternoon. Because of the shape the shawl stays right where it belongs while wearing it!! If you usually fight with shawls to make them stay where you want them (like I do) or have to resort to a shawl pin to immobilize  them into submission, this is a big deal. The shawl even behaved itself while I was getting into and out of the car!

All of the edges of the shawl are icord, and I have to admit that I was a little sick of it while casting on and binding off. This is not a quick operation, but the finished product is so nice that it was worth the effort. I think that the stable edge contributes to the shawls well-behaved drape.

Here are my project notes. I’m already stash shopping to come with another one of these shawls. Spring colors, don’t you think?

Have a great knitting weekend everyone!

Orchids and Hot Mess Knitting

Today is bright, sunny and warm. No doubt about it, spring is here. Outdoors it is still too soon to plant as there is still another month of possible cold snaps and plant-crushing snow ahead of us, but inside the plants have gotten the message.

I’ve been monitoring the growth of this flowering stem on an orchid for weeks. Yesterday the buds finally opened. So happy with this bloom color!

I bought grow lights last fall and moved some of my favorite plants and roses back indoors for the winter. The plants eventually quit blooming and some of the roses are engaged in mildew/spider mite wars. So far those roses are winning, but there have been some close calls and trips to the garage for treatment and isolation. The orchids, however, have just flourished under the new lights and my jade plants put out so much new growth that I took cuttings and started several new pots. Anyway, never mind the jade plants… look at what happened with the orchids!

Most of my orchids have grown several new leaves over the winter and put out numerous new roots. Really, so many roots that I’m not quite sure what to make of it. Should I put new pots under these roots? Put the orchid into a bigger pot? Transfer it to a huge container and wait to see what happens?

I need to do some internet searches to see if I can propagate new orchids from those roots… I look at this plant and wonder if I should stop feeding it orchid food. Strangely, the orchid that is blooming has the worst growth of the bunch; maybe all of its energy is going into the blooms? Right now it is an orchid mystery and I’m just enjoying the blooms.

The rest of my time has been spent nursing an infected ankle (No, I don’t want to talk about it! Bad ankle, bad!) and knitting away endlessly on projects that never seem to get done. I keep adding new balls of yarn, knitting away, but they are still not done. I am drowning in yarn here, people!

I’ve been saving this Dark Side of the Moon (Alexandra’s Crafts) for a year looking for the right project. A little concerned about how the purple flashes of color will appear I started the V-Neck Boxy (Joji Locatelli) a couple of weeks ago. Hey, it’s best to not overthink these things. Just cast on and do it. What can go wrong? If the purple pools I will just alternate skeins or rip it out … I excel at ripping things out!
It’s a keeper!! I’m not alternating skeins at all and am happy with the effect of the purple flashes. My project notes are here.

I’m now below the V-neck and knitting like crazy on the body. This sweater is really, well, boxy, and each round of knitting takes forever, and the length is growing, but slowly. Once I was below the increases and shaping for the upper part of the sweater it became “knit until you have the length you want” knitting. I keep knitting, and knitting, and knitting, and knitting… you get the idea. I put it aside to hibernate for a little while.

Socks! Let’s do some quickly rewarding socks, I told MacKenzie.

I’ll do these cute Geology Socks with the left over fingering yarn from my Sturgill sweater! Won’t these look cute? MacKenzie agreed that it was a good plan, ate some cookies, and headed off to bed.

Umm… there is a reason they say you should read the pattern carefully before you start knitting. I skimmed the pattern text, found the pattern chart for the size sock that I wanted, and got to work. I love charts! Oops. This chart is not designed to be knit exactly as presented as the pattern is designed to allow individual customization; lots of customization. I ended up ripping out the sock twice! Ugh. The yarn and needles went into time out right next to the V-Neck Boxy sweater.

Looking for instant gratification I started this Sea Swell Shawl using yarn in the colorways of the Sturgill sweater.

Yep. Not sure what I was thinking here beyond that this was a stunning design and I wanted it right this second!! This is another endless knitting project. The balls slowly shrank as I knitted on and on and on in garter stitch broken every now and then with lace. I worried about the yardage of the third color, the wine-colored yarn, as part of it had been used to knit the Sturgill sweater… that ball is only 75 grams of yarn, and I used almost all of the first ball of yarn before the switch to pink occurred. Ugh! Maybe I should use the dark grey from the Geology socks for the third color and make the socks out of the wine colored yarn…

Last night I FINIALLY got to the part of the shawl where you start the third color and I used the dark grey from the socks. It will be great. It will go with more things in my wardrobe. I won’t have to stress about running out of yarn. My project notes are here.
Sitting in bed with MacKenzie and listening to an audiobook I cast on and started the Geology Socks for the third time using the wine colored yarn. Fast knitting as I have now memorized the charts and as everyone knows, the third time is the charm. My project notes are here.

After agonizing over yarn choices, amounts of yarn, and in what combinations I should be using them, I am finally happy with what is coming off of my needles. The only trouble is… there is so much endless knitting ahead of me. Endless knitting broken up only be the little charts of the geology socks.

I’m dreaming of a new project. Hmm… maybe I should go stash shopping. I could cast on a couple of new projects… Nordiska is calling me… I saw a fast cowl pattern at the LYS…

Hot mess knitting is pretty exhausting, but for me it may be an essential part of my creative process. Eventually I will have finished projects. Stay tuned, it is sure to happen someday soon.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone. If there is a holiday celebration for you this weekend, I do hope that it is a good one.

Houston, the Magic has landed!

I know, I know. You have been wondering whatever happened to me. I have been knitting and knitting on the Marled Magic Sweater (by Stephen West), and it just seemed that it would be boring to put up even more pictures of my cat MacKenzie sleeping on ANOTHER chunk of knitted fabric (even if it was mohair fabulousness…).

Cat with knitting.
But this cat isn’t MacKenzie, and besides, he is awake.  This is my extremely elusive cat BobMorgan, who I call Yellow Boy in MacKenzie’s posts because, well, he is somewhat lacking in courage. My DIL only knows what he looks like because I sent her a picture. He wails if anything strange (like my sister and I replacing a window screen) happens. He is afraid of the camera, so a shot like this is rare.  He is also the source of most of the cat hair in the pictures that I take.

I eventually stopped posting to the blog and just kept on knitting. And knitting. Then I finished the knitting and I was so exhausted by the whole experience that I didn’t get the ends woven in for another week.

I-cord bind off.
I think what did me in was the i-cord bind off, which seemed to go on forever. It did make a really nice finished edge, however, so it was worth the time.

Thursday I took the sweater back out and finished it. It is done. It is beautiful. It is very, very warm. Did I mention that the temperature is in the 80’s outside?  I sadly packed the Magic away to wait for colder days and some snow.

Don’t you want to see it?

Blocking the sweater.
Blocking was an issue. I didn’t want to stretch the sweater, which would make it longer, so I finally just laid it out on a towel, misted it with a spray bottle, and patted it into shape.
Finished Marled Magic.
Here it is! This sweater is lofty because of all the mohair I used, and is the perfect sweater to wrap up in for cold weather knitting and outings. Oh, did you notice the loose ends? They are all woven in and behaving themselves now.
Side view.
Check out the brioche on the arm (wine colored) the other stitches in this masterpiece were seed stitch, garter, and a simple lace.
Back
The black and grey panels in the back happened to be the yarns with cashmere in them too. Oh, my goodness. Wearing this baby feels wonderful!

Not the best pictures, but pretty good for selfies, don’t you think?

I used so many yarns to make this I finally just listed them the best I could in the notes part of my Ravelry entry. If you are interested, here is the link to my project page.

I just checked the weather report… it is going to snow next Thursday! I know what I’ll be wearing while I’m knitting that day!

Have a good weekend everyone.

MacKenzie Speaks: Feeling the Magic

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat face
I hope that you haven’t been missing me.

The Mother of Cats and I haven’t really been neglecting all of you. We’ve been very, very busy working on her Marled Magic Sweater. This thing is huge! And very squishy.

Cat kneading knitted item.
See what I mean: squishy!

Every part of this HUGE sweater has mohair stranded with it. The Mother of Cats says that is what makes it “marled”. Whatever. I’m just glad that she is paying attention to my needs.

Cat with knitting.
The best part of the sweater is a section that the Mother of Cats called “brioche” stitch.

The brioche stitch section has cashmere and mohair mixed in the yarn. So nice with my fur. I totally could get into a blanket for my cat bed made out of this stuff…

Close-up of the knitting
See. Here’s a close-up. Doesn’t that look like it would make a great cat bed blanket?

The Mother of Cats has been working steadily on this project, and we are making really good progress.  This afternoon she finished the 6th section of the sweater and took it out for a picture or two. She did not let me go outside with her because I jumped the fence again last week (Hey, there was an ENEMY CAT in my yard again!!) and I’m currently under house arrest. The Mother of Cats is so unstable… why does she overreact like this?

Progress on Project.
Look at this! This is the right side of the sweater (front and back) and the part with the vee shape is the center front. Wouldn’t you like to see what those stripes look like?
Center section stripes.
Here they are. The Mother of Cats used 2 yarns for each color in the stripes, so I had a total of 4 different yarns to chomp on while she was knitting. I had SO much fun! I wonder why the Mother of Cats get so snippy with me?

So that’s all that is going on here. The Mother of Cats and I have been knitting and knitting and knitting while she binge watches Netflix and I help her keep all of her little yarns organized. The sweater is already big enough to be a really nice blanket, but she says there is still a lot of knitting ahead of us. I’ve been such a good boy and so much help she brought me home a present yesterday!

Cat and knitted cat.
Her best friend and knitting buddy Deb made this little friend for me!

It’s a little knitted cat that looks just like me! The Mother of Cats says it is for her birthday, but I know that it was really for me. This afternoon it slept with me in my cat bed. So nice and cuddly! I think that the next one should be stuffed with catnip.

Well, that’s it. The Mother of Cats found some nice purple yarn and a grey mohair to use in the next section of the sweater. She is champing at the bit and can’t wait to start knitting the next section.

Back to the knitting salt mines!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • I actually made an Excel spreadsheet to figure out the colors that I’m using as I make the sweater as I wanted to balance things out and needed to plan ahead.  I’m not out of control at all!
  • I’m struggling with the Ravelry project page: so many yarns to record! I finally started listing the yarns for each section in the notes section, and I need to update the list of yarns that I’m using. I plan to do that when I finally get done.
  • It is clear that this sweater will be large; I can’t wait to be folded in its cushy yumminess this winter.
  • My friend Deb is developing the patterns for the floppies that she creates for her daughter and others. She has made a bunny, panda, and now my cat. I’ll alert you all as soon as her patterns go up on Ravelry.
  • Knitted cat
    Isn’t this the cutest? He sits up really well and is the most perfect floppy cat ever!!

When in doubt, rip it out!

As you can guess from the title of this post, I hit the wall yesterday. I had been knitting for days with a growing sense that my projects *sucked* and should not see the light of day. The colors, fit or the overall concept was just off. I wanted to believe, really, I did. Yet, why knit something that won’t make you happy in the end? Pushing through on an unhappy project is probably always a bad decision.

Eclipse Knitting
Not that I’m an unhappy knitter. 🙂 Check out me (right) and my best knitting buddy Deb knitting through the eclipse last Monday. 

Yesterday morning I reached that magic moment (after texting Deb first) when I whipped out the needles from TWO DIFFERENT PROJECTS and then either put the knitted fabric into a corner to think about what it had done (a sweater) or rewound the yarn back into a ball to be re-knit (a sock).

Let’s start with the sock. I found this fabulous sock blank (I now think that sock blanks may be the best things since sliced bread…) and decided to play around with knitting a simple sock with a lace top.

Cuff of Sock
Sitting outside with MacKenzie I cast on a simple lace on one set of needles using yarn from the stash, began the ribbing for the sock with the blank on a second set of needles, and then joined them at the bottom of the ribbing. Cute, right? That sock blank is from Greenwood Fiberworks. Don’t you love the sparkles?

Right away I knew that things weren’t quite right. I make my socks in 2.25 mm needles with 64 stitches. Since the lace was a multiple of 6 stitches, I tried knitting the cuff with 66 stitches and then decreased to 64 stitches right before the join. The lace was a little too snug. The color wasn’t quite right. I kept looking at it and telling myself that it would look better as I got to the darker colors in the blank.

Sock
I’m almost done, and I still am not happy with the lace. It is too dark, and it doesn’t stick up enough, and it looked even worse on my leg as it was too snug. The color of the sock looks dull; it is that darn lace! I should have made the ribbing shorter. I should have made the lace whiter.  Why did I use that blue yarn for the afterthought heel placement: picking up stitches will be a nightmare! I hated it.

To make things worse I made a mistake on the heel (too many stitches in that section that will be the afterthought heel) and when I got to the toe I found out that I had 6 more stitches on the top than the bottom of the foot. How did I do that? The whole thing was a disappointment.

New Sock.
Whap! I pulled out the needles, ripped like crazy and had the yarn rewound for knitting in just a few minutes. 

A hunt through the stash found some Bare Hare from KnitPicks that became the new knitted cuff, and this time I cast on 72 stitches for the cuff, and decreased to 64 stitches a couple of rows before the join. The ribbing is now shorter. The sock colors look brighter. I’m much happier with this look.

Good fitting cuff on sock.
Now the sock fits my leg perfectly! Here’s the project notes on Ravelry.

I also entered the unhappy zone with the Marled Magic Sweater. I was making lots of color changes and trying to channel Stephen West while I knitted. You know what, I need to be true to myself and I should knit using the colors and vision that I had when I bought the yarns that are singing the Marled Magic song to me.

Sweater in Progress.
Really cool, but I’m being overwhelmed by all of the color striping, and I don’t think that the yarns themselves are shining like they should.

These yarns are fabulous, but they are hidden by all the color changes. I mean, look at them. I love each one of these guys. They are bursting with potential.

Yarn
Aren’t these great? I pruned out the partial skeins and kept yarns that made this collection of rose, purple and blue with lots of gray overtones.

I pulled the sweater off the needles, put the fabric off to the side, and cast on again. I picked one yarn that I loved and one mohair to go with it, and I’m going to knit the whole first block with just those two yarns. Since the sweater is a modular construction I’m going to focus on balancing colors between the blocks to make this sweater shine for me. It will be great!

First block of knitting.
Now the subtle colors in this yarn can strut their stuff. I’m really happy with the block that is emerging. That mohair makes the fabric feel fabulous, too.

I’m happy and knitting like the wind again. I can’t wait to get to the second block of this sweater. I think I’ll use one of the yarns with a lot of rose in it with a silver gray mohair. Then I’ll go with a black yarn and purple mohair. This is a way to approach the sweater that I can deal with.

Mother of Cats Sweatshirt.
Look at what my niece in California sent me last week! I’m so happy. I can’t wait for cooler weather so I can wear it.

Cooler weather! In just another month there may be snow in the forecast.

Time to make the magic happen and to crank out that sweater! I am on fire and knitting like crazy now.

Have a good week everyone.

PS: As I type this I am watching the news coverage about the horrific natural disaster that is unfolding in Texas and Louisiana here in America. My heart is broken for all of those who are displaced and dealing with disaster in their communities.  Hugs to all of you who are affected by this, and stay safe.

WIPs this Week: Marled Magic Sweater and More Jelly Rolls

I really dug in and worked on my Marled Magic sweater this week. So many colors. So many combinations. So much fun. Seriously, this is addictive knitting at its best with a big side of stash busting. I blogged about this project earlier and showed off all of the yarn I had collected to use in the sweater. I am now well into the second section of the sweater and I am feeling the magic for sure. This sweater is going to be great this winter and I am having a great time dreaming/knitting it.

Sweater in Progress.
The gray colored section at top is the first one in the sweater. I am now about half way done with the pink section in the lower part of the picture.

The sweater is knitted with one strand of fingering yarn held together with one strand of mohair. As the two are knitted together they create the marled look of the fabric.

Closeup of Knitting.
In the first section I used a single gray mohair from the stash with different fingerings that were mostly gray with pink and purple highlights.
Knitting Closeup.
In this second section I am using yarn that has more color in it and I am knitting it with pink, purple , and gray mohair. I am changing both yarn types as I knit to switch up the marl effect.
Yarn
Here are the yarns that I’m using in this second section. 

I’m have over a dozen different yarns in this section, and I have to lug around the box of yarns while I’m knitting. So… I admit it. I lost control. I cast on a small project that is easy to carry around to work on while away from home.

Sock
More Jelly Rolls socks!

I couldn’t help it. These yarns are in the bins that I’m using on the big sweater project, and as I dug through yarns to put together the combos for the second sweater section I noticed that speckled yarn. It was near the solid blue yarn, but there were those black specks in the speckled yarn too…  I started to dream about how they would look as a sock combination. Cute, right? Here are my project notes with the yarns that I used for these Jelly Rolls. There are some other sock combinations calling to me already that I’m trying to ignore while I keep working on the sweater.

It’s just crazy to think that I would have only one project going at a time.

If I cast on ANOTHER sock I may need to go buy some more needles.

Oh, little things like that have never stopped me before! 🙂

Have a good (knitting) weekend, everyone.