MacKenzie Speaks: Nordiska Sweater is Done!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Do you see how closely I worked with the Mother of Cats this time?

I am happy to announce the arrival of our bouncing baby Nordiska after weeks of effort. I really supervised the Mother of Cats closely this time and kept my paw on the knitting at almost all times, and I do say that my efforts have really paid off.

Looking good, huh! Now that the weather is nice again the Mother of Cats and I are starting to hang out in the yard again.

The Mother of Cats totally freaked out within hours of finishing this sweater and pulled out boxes of yarn to wind for new projects. So emotional, the Mother of Cats. She simply can’t function without me and at least 4 different projects to work on at once. I helped her with all of the yarn winding and we’re hard at work getting new shawls and mitts done now. Next time I write I’ll show them all off!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

The sweater is Nordiska by Caitlin Hunter, and you can find my project notes here.

Here are some of the photos showing the entire knitting process:

Yarn for Nordiska sweater.
The yarns!
The cable detail along the raglan sleeves.
Close-up of the Fair Isle colorwork. I used a slightly darker gray at the bottom of the sweater and you can see the slight difference in the gray in the colorwork.

I posted the picture of MacKenzie sleeping in the knitting to a Facebook knitting group and he already has almost 550 likes. No wonder he has an outsized kitty ego…

 

MacKenzie Speaks: Nordiska Days

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Do you see this knitting? The Mother of Cats and I are working like crazy on her Nordiska sweater.

She got cranky at the beginning of the sweater when she decided that she didn’t like the look of the cables that are on the edges of the raglan sleeve increases. She kept checking the pattern, knitting, grumbling, eating cookies and fussing about the look of the cable. Not always stable, the Mother of Cats…

See how the cable edge isn’t clean on the right side? The Mother of Cats went crazy about this.

I think that she should have just gotten past this little design flaw and gotten me more cookies, but NO! She had to rip everything out and started again with her own idea of how to make the cable.

Here is her revised version of the cable. Glad that crisis was over as she really neglected me something awful while she was deciding whether to rip/not rip. Once she ripped out the sweater and started over (MAJOR CAT FUN!!) she was back to normal and paid much more attention to me. About time, Mother of Cats! She is just exhausting some days.
I settled down for a little nap while she worked her way through the boring upper body of the sweater…
Grabbed some more nap time while she got herself organized for doing the colorwork at the bottom of the sweater…
And really poured on the attention and support while she was knitting with different colors of yarn.

What can I say? I really like knitting that has more than one ball of yarn involved. The Mother of Cats keeps flipping the different colors back and forth, and then she moves the balls from one side to the other. I help her as much as I can and grab a little yarn chomp when the opportunity presents itself. Why does the Mother of Cats get so emotional about my help? I think that it means that she loves me, don’t you? But if she loves me, why does she keep cutting my claws short? I don’t understand why she doesn’t trust me more…

This is what our work looks like now. Pretty good, don’t you think?

There is no way that the Mother of Cats could have done such a good job without my help.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • I’m still not sure if the issue with the edge of the cable was me or the pattern, but I have to say that I just love, love, love how this sweater is working up. I put my notes on the change I made to the shaping increases in my project notes in case you are interested.
  • I did take a picture of the whole sweater the way it looks right now.
Can you see the V-neck? It is there…
  • I am using a different dye lot of the light grey yarn at the bottom of the sweater; it is a little darker. I made the switch when I started the colorwork and plan to finish up the bottom ribbing with the darker color. I’m saving the lighter yarn to do the V-neck ribbing, which I will do next, and then to start the sleeves until I get them down to the colorwork that will allow me to switch to the darker grey.
  • The Estes Park Wool Market is in two weeks and I have hopes that this sweater will be done in time to wear there (and that it will be cold enough in early June for a sweater…). I’m on a deadline, people! Must knit faster!!

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!

MacKenzie Speaks: Happy Mother of Cats Day!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

For some reason the Mother of Cats thinks that she should have a special day. Silly Mother of Cats. I deserve a special day more than she does!

Yesterday the Mother of Cats left me ALL ALONE and went out to get some sushi with one of her sons. Did she bring me home some nice smoked salmon or tempura shrimp? No. She did not. I can’t believe that she is so thoughtless!

This morning she was happy to see, even though the war with the spider mites continues (Mother of Cats, 0. Spider Mites, 1.), one of her roses has bloomed in her favorite color.

Now that the weather is finally warming up she will be putting the roses outside for the summer where she can dust them with spider mite killers with reckless abandon. Watch out, spider mites, she is coming for her. How dare you mess with her roses? She is filling spray bottles with soap and Neem oil and my money is on the Mother of Cats!

Last week was snowy so the Mother of Cats went crazy and baked fun cookies, made spaghetti sauce and knitted a lot.

I have been helping the Mother of Cats with her new sweater all week. She even cut my claws again so I could roll around and yarn chomp all I wanted without snagging (what ever that is…) her knitted fabric. She is so touchy about these things. When will the Mother of Cats learn appropriate priorities? Anyway, the sweater is now done and I am left with NOTHING FUN TO DO since she won’t let me go outside. My life is so hard. I should have a special day too, don’t you think?

Now that the sweater is done she is wearing it and I don’t get to roll around on the knitting anymore. This sweater was really nice as that is 80% superwash merino and 20% silk yarn. I really like silk, don’t you? So nice on my fur, so squishy to sleep on, so nice and warm…. Mother of Cats!! You should give me that sweater for a cat bed!!
Can you see how much wonderful fabric is in this sweater? It’s almost like a little cat blanket with sleeves and an opening for the Mother of Cat’s head. It would be perfect for me.

The Mother of Cats wore the new sweater to the sushi place yesterday and it was just the thing for a cool spring evening walking the streets of Boulder, Colorado, which is where they went WITHOUT ME!!

While she was off having a good time wearing my new cat bed I was forced to sleep on the naked bed covers. I have such a hard life.
It’s amazing that I am able to cope with it all!

Anyway, Happy Mother of Cats Day to all of you knitters, Scleroderma Warriors, rose lovers and readers of books. Hugs to everyone, I hope you have tulips and/or roses where you are, and may you also have a good day with a plate of cookies.

Which reminds me, Mother of Cats. I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • We went to dinner at Sushi Zanmai in Boulder, Colorado, which is a place that transports me back to my early married days when I lived in Yokohama, Japan. I highly recommend this restaurant if you are ever in the area.
  • My sweater is the VNeck Boxy by Joji Locatelli. Oh, my goodness, this is a wonderful, comfy sweater and I am so very pleased with the results. My project notes are here.
  • I bought those cookies at the LYS. Of course, you say. Where else would I find such fun sheep stamps? The recipe for shortbread cookies came with the stamps, and the rest is yummy cookie history.

MacKenzie Speaks: The Sturgill Sweater is Done.

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Ornry cat snoozing on beautiful Fair Isle knitting.
I’ve been napping on the new sweater as much as possible.

The Mother of Cats has continued to knit like crazy on her new sweater. I’ve been giving her tons of help, but she doesn’t seem to appreciate me the way she should. She continues to freak out every single time that I put a claw on her sweater; she always grabs my paw and WON’T LET ME TOUCH THE SWEATER WITH MY PAWS!! I do not understand why she is acting this way. So selfish, the Mother of Cats!

Trimmed claws on the ornry cat that make him knitting friendly.
Look at what she did to me!!

The Mother of Cats is so unstable and difficult to work with. After I snagged her knitting only a couple of times she grabbed me and CUT MY NAILS!!! Can you see the damage in the picture?

Ornry cat snoozing on knitting with his paws on the work.
After my nails were cut she started letting me sleep on her knitting. Ah. So much better. This sweater is so, so comfy.
Finished sweater on the Mother of Cats.
Tonight she finished the sweater and put it on. NOOO!!! What will I sleep on now?

The Mother of Cats pulled out a lot of yarn this evening and started knitting on new projects, lots of new projects, lots of new yarns. She let me help and I got to chomp at least three different colors. One has cashmere… my favorite!! Wait until I get to show that yarn off.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The sweater is Sturgill by Caitlin Hunter. My project notes on Ravelry are here.
  • I finished the sleeves before completing the body as I was worried about running out of yarn and was considering options. I completed only a couple of inches of sleeve ribbing and paced the stitches on holders so I could match to the body of the sweater later (see below).
  • The sweater is knit with DK weight yarn, but I ran out of the main color (dark grey) before I finished the body of the sweater. I had a skein of fingering in the same colorway (Man in Black by Stitch Together) so I blended that yarn held doubled with the DK by alternating rows for several rounds and then completed the body with the doubled fingering. It was a great match.
Details of yarn in the sleeve ribbing.
Here is a close-up of the ribbing showing the doubled fingering mixed with the DK weight yarn. Don’t those colors look good?! All the ribbing on the body and most of the sleeve ribbing was done with the doubled fingering yarn. 
  • Once the body of the sweater was completed I did the same blending trick with the sleeve ribbing and then added another 4″ to the sleeve ribbing to get a total of 6″ ribbing. Sleeves fit perfect!
  • After wet blocking the two weights of yarn look identical in the sweater. Win!
  • MacKenzie has already gotten over the cutting of his claws since it allowed him to plant himself constantly on my knitting…
Spoiled and ornry cat sleeping on sweater.
As far as MacKenzie is concerned the new sweater is a bed for him…
  • Now that I’m done with all of my current WIPs it is time to go crazy and cast on lots of new projects. Wait until I can show off the next wave of knitted yumminess.

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!

Sturgill Learning Curve

I launched into Sturgill with supreme self-confidence. I had just finished off some stunningly challenging mitts for my niece and felt like there wasn’t a knitting project anywhere that would be beyond me. I’m rocking, right?! Let me just print out this bad boy, cast on and whip it out…

Sturgill pattern by Caitlin Hunter and the author's work in progress.
There isn’t a sweater designed by Caitlin Hunter that I don’t want to knit. I was hooked as soon as I saw this pattern hit Ravelry. I went stash shopping that night and couldn’t wait to get started. As you can see, I have been making progress, but I’ve been learning new tricks along the way…

Do you hear the sound of screeching brakes in the background? Yep. Hubris will only get you so far. There have been problems. I have had to rethink some things, learn some new skills, and just embrace the adventure. Here are the highlights:

Color Choices

Yarn for sweater.
I selected these yarns the night that I printed the pattern. I thought that the purple would be great as the color pop (turquoise color in the original) in the sweater. I cast on and started knitting with the grey, and then wound the other colors when I got to the colorwork chart. Oh. Once I had the yarn wound I realized that this purple made the dusky pink (my favorite!) look dull. Really dull. Ugh. Time to hit the yarn stash again…
Final yarn chosen for the sweater.
I found this muted purple to use instead. The new purple is fingering (the other yarns are DK) so I will need to knit it doubled. That should work, right? The pink brightened right up with the new purple and looks much better. Yay! I cast on with these yarns.

Yarn Handling

I’m pretty good at knitting colorwork these days. I carry the dominant color in my left hand and the other color in my right; I catch the strands every other stitch so there are few floats. What I didn’t anticipate because I didn’t look closely at the pattern in my rush of casting on joy is that there are three colors being used at a time in parts of this color chart. Oops! After some struggling, inappropriate language, and hair pulling, I worked out a routine to handle all three colors by parking one on the left to be used only by my left hand (grey yarn), one on the right to be used only by my right hand (purple yarn) and the pink was parked in the middle. As I worked through the chart the pink switched hands as required by the work, I caught floats when I could, and there was no tangling of the yarn.  Slow going, but the final fabric looks pretty good, and you can’t see that inappropriate language at all. 🙂

Bobbles

There were bobbles on my niece’s mitts, which required a lot of turning back and forth while I worked each one. Not a big deal, because the mitt was a small item. This sweater has lots of 3-stitch bobbles, and I didn’t want to turn the work back and forth for every single one. The bobbles involve only 3 stitches. Obviously a great opportunity to knit backwards…

After some messing around I figured out how to do it. I’ve started the bobble here and am backwards knitting the three bobble-stitches from the right needle back onto the left. To do this you insert the left needle into the back of the stitch you are working…
Knitting backwards
Wrap the yarn around the left needle from front to back…
Knitting backwards
Pull the wrapped yarn through the stitch…
Knitting backwards
Pull the finished stich off the right needle to the left one. I just knitted this stitch backwards! 
Finished bobble
By knitting stitches backwards instead of turning the work and purling them, I found that it was much easier (and faster) to get the bobbles done. Win and a new skill acquired!

There’s more struggle ahead of me. I’m worried about running out of the grey yarn and there was no more at the LYS so I bought two skeins of fingering to use knitted double. That’s DK, right? The colors look to be a good match, but I’m still a little anxious. I hated to add two skeins to the stash, but I was dying with yarn chicken anxiety. I’m getting away with doubled yarn with the purple, but if I pull that trick with the sleeves will they look funny? Lots to worry about.

MacKenzie helping with the knitting.
I’m also dealing with the usual cat assistance while I knit. So cute. So purrsistent. So annoying when struggling with three colors or bobbles.
Knitted Progress.
But I’m making good progress on the sweater anyway and I’m really happy with the colors. I can’t wait to get this finished and blocked!!

I’m still trying to clean as much yarn as I can out of the stash this year. So far I’ve used up 13 skeins, and with the sweater I should clear several more even without counting the two skeins I added on as insurance. This sweater is mostly out of the stash, and even though it is keeping me on my toes, I am so happy with how it is knitting up!

Here are my Sturgill project notes on Ravelry.