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.

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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.

Ready for the Magic!

I really don’t like to do this, but the first step in recovery is to admit that you have a problem. That assumes, of course, that you are interested in actually recovering from your addiction…

Yarn
I keep buying these gray-toned yarns with flecks of pink and purple in them… I think that I have actually bought five different 2-skein sets of this type of yarn with the idea of making another “Waiting for Rain” shawl.  Maybe, I told myself, it can become ANOTHER Find Your Fade. I’m in my 60’s now, and my hair is starting to go gray…  I’m wearing more black and this yarn will go with my entire wardrobe. Do I need any more excuses? No, not really. This yarn had me at “hello!”

Nope. Not recovering today. There is no problem here. I love yarn, I love to knit, it makes me happy, and there are few things that make you decide to do what makes you feel happy like getting diagnosed with a possibly-fatal autoimmune condition. Oh. For one thing, you notice that the condition of life itself is eventually fatal… whatever have I been waiting for?  Buy yarn. Time to knit!

Still there is the issue of what to do with all of this awesome yarn?

34742949562_b375dd92e1_n

This is the Marled Magic Sweater by Stephen West (photo credit: westknits). Hey, wouldn’t this be the perfect solution to consume that yarn and make something that will carry me through the cold of winter wrapped in absolute cushy yumminess?  Yes, yes it will!! I downloaded the pattern that week and read the directions. Oops. This is going to be challenging and it is going to take a lot of yarn. Stephen suggests that you stock up/locate about 1500 grams of the stuff to make your yarn palette. Good think I have a stash that reflects my true yarn-addiction status.

Pile of yarN.
I pulled out every yarn that I thought I could use and piled it all in a couple of large bins. After that I sorted the yarn into color grouping and sadly make some cuts. Then I made some more cuts. This is what I was left with…
Lace weight yarns.
The marl in the fabric is created by knitting with two strands of yarn held together. I pulled out lace weight yarns in the colorways that I was looking for. This is mostly mohair, silk, and alpaca yarn. I have a lot of the steel gray mohair at the lower right hand corner, and will use the other colors to spice things up.
Yarn collage.
Then I pulled out these fingering weight yarns to accent the gray mix yarns that I started out with: blues, purples and rose/pinks. I have some golds and teals that I put back into the stash, but they may sneak back into the working yarn palette later. I put in the gray Brooklyn Tweed Loft too as Stephen suggested that it be included if possible to help cut the weight and to prevent stretching.

Pretty intimidating, but I am getting ready to so some serious yarn winding and should get the project page on Ravelry started soon. Wow. This is a lot of yarn to enter, and then there will be the notes…

Good thing I am a true addict!!

PS: my rheumatologist told me that I should knit as much as I can to help keep functionality in my hands. Never did medical advice fall on such fertile soil… not that I needed another excuse. 🙂

Road Trip: My Sister Knits

Every Wednesday I go to a local yarn store to knit with a group of ladies who have become my friends. Okay, let’s be honest, they are one of my main support systems. I love the ladies in this group, and last week we all headed out on a road trip to the yarn stores of Fort Collins, Colorado. We visited three stores and treated ourselves to a fun lunch. It was a great (if a little exhausting) time, and it is always exciting to explore new yarn shops, but one store in particular was a huge hit with me.

My Sister Knits is located in the carriage house behind a lovely home on a street shaded with mature trees. We drove by twice before we figured out that there was a discrete sign under a tree out front; the low profile might be due to its presence in a residential section of the city. I really don’t know about that, but it is totally worth the extra time to locate it! To get to the shop you walk through a bright and inviting gate to the side of the house and…

Yard
you enter the sweetest yard with brick patios and walkways, tables and benches for knitting, sparkly lights and lovely plantings. I was struck with envy.
chickens
Then there were the chickens… these pampered chicks have this lovely house for their coop, and the metal and wire structure to the right (which is much larger than shown in the photo) is their courtyard. So cute! I want chickens for my yard too. I want these trees and the decorations, and maybe that birdbath while we’re at it. Do you think a bee hive would be over the top? I got great ideas for my yard before I even made it to the yarn shop!
My Sister Knits
Oh, there it is. The store is located in a converted carriage house that used to be a two car garage with upstairs storage and an office used by the previous owner. Now it is a lovely yarn shop. Let’s go in…
Yarn
OK, the shop isn’t huge, but everything that is there is JUST PERFECT!! Seriously, I wanted everything. Yarn that is hard to find, too wonderful to ignore, and in a great selection of colors. I felt like I had gone to heaven!
Shop Owner
and I met Julie, who is the most positive and helpful owner you could hope for. No wonder her shop is so appealing.
Yarn
Upstairs you find all the fingering yarn…Madelinetosh and Hedgehog Fibres in every color and weight you could wish for, along with knitted samples, patterns, and cute kit packaging. There were other yarn brands, too, but I never made it that far. 🙂 This table had kits to make Melanie Berg’s On the Spice Market Shawl along with kits for the shawls you can see. You know I bought the yarn to made one of these shawls… There was a Stephen West The Doodler hanging on the wall, with every color of Hedgehog Fibers yarn lurking nearby just waiting for you to put together a three yarn combination… The shop has a license to sell Ravelry patterns, so anything you wanted, they printed it for you and you were in business.

So I got silly and bought yarn. I bought some of the kits that were shown, the yarn for some shawl patterns that have been waiting patiently in my Ravelry shopping cart, and some yarn that was too beautiful to just leave sitting on the rack. I have put together the kits to make seven new shawls (lucky seven… can you feel a new post coming on?), and launched into some small projects that are rich in color and learning. Here is the one that I started first.

Yarn kit
Downstairs on a high shelf these little kits were on display: brioche knit cowls. Hey, I always wanted to learn how to knit brioche…
Brioche cowl
Look Mom! I can knit brioche!! Look at how nice these two colors go together. Even the little stitch marker came with the kit. This is the Hawkshaw Cowl by Kate Burge and Rachel Price. That yarn is a single worsted weight merino yarn. Yum!
I-Cord Cast O
I even learned how to do the i cord cast on that Julie recommended I use. Thank you You Tube!

Today it is cool, overcast and threatening to rain. The Olympics starts tonight, and I have lots of yarn on hand and visions of shawls dancing in my head. Forecast: major knitting.

What a great road trip!

 

 

Rainy Day Story

I have been knitting on mitts like crazy, but for some reason I have shifted my interest to shawls. Seriously, I am dreaming about lacy shawls and the yarns in the stash. Must. Have. A. New. Shawl. It is a serious case of shawl longing for sure. It is less than a month from the Interweave Yarn Fest and I need to be flashing a new shawl when I go. It’s a matter of pride.

And besides, it is raining outside today. Gloomy. Cold. I can’t be expected to knit in these conditions. I need to go on a pattern hunt and then it is time for some serious stash shopping.

Yarn
Lydia Sock Yarn in the colorways “Garden Party” and “Forbidden Fruit”

I think that the whole “I need to knit a shawl” thing started when I saw this yarn at the local yarn shop. Doesn’t it look like a great warm weather shawl? I want the body of the shawl to be in the light color and the bright yarn will be used for some type of color pop. Maybe knitted lace at the bottom of the shawl can be in the bright color. I have some shawls in my shopping cart at Ravelry (OK. There are 58 items in the shopping cart. Some of those must be shawls, right?), so I headed on over there to see what I could find buy.

 Image credit: Softsweater

 

We have a winner! This is Waiting for Rain by Sylvia Bo Bilvia. I’ll be adding lace to the bottom and maybe some other pops of the bright color yarn. I bought several other shawl patterns that were in my cart while I was there with a smoking PayPal account. Here they are:

Well, once I had all of those patterns printed out I headed up to the stash to dig around and match yarns with the patterns. My stash is in the walk-in closet in the spare bedroom, so I took my laptop and a latte up with me and dived in.

Computer and yarns
As I  matched yarns with the patterns I entered them into my queue on Ravelry. How organized is that?! I was digging through lots of yarn as I made my decisions so I just gave up and…
working on the floor of the stash room
worked on the floor of the stash room surrounded by little tubs of yarn as I made decisions and assembled the kits for the shawls.
Yarn in kit
This is one of the shawl kits. I have the yarn for “Waiting for Rain” together with the pattern and the needles that I am going to use. This is the shawl that I plan on starting as soon as I’m done with the current projects. (I may even be able to stick to this plan… mostly. I can cast on a few more projects this week too, right?) I have the yarn and patterns for “Exploration Station” and “Solaris” also in this kit, but am still deciding on the final yarns that I will use. “Exploration Station” is the one that is the hardest for me to make a decision on: a new yarn color may need to acquired.
Yarn and pattern
The other shawl that I am dying to cast on is this Best Friends Shawl that I plan to get done in time for a friend’s birthday. The pattern is for two shawls with the colors reversed. My friend will get one one and I get to keep the other. It will be great!! I can’t wait to see how these two colors play together. I put this shawl in the number 2 slot in the queue.

I am so fired up and energized to get knitting on the new shawl projects. Check out my Ravelry queue; it is now really shawl intensive. This afternoon the sun came out and I spent some time knitting on the current projects. I do believe that I will have some FOs to show off by the end of the week.

About stinking time I got something finished.