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!!
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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. 🙂

FO: the drijfhout sweater is done!

Today it turned just darn cold after days and days of spring like weather. I know I’m being a whining baby; it is February after all. The weather people warned us that change was coming so I pulled myself together, sewed the buttons onto the drijfhout sweater and wove in the ends. Ta-da! Here it is!

Finished Sweater
How cute is this?
MacKenzie really likes the finished knit. He’s been particularity insistent on cuddles all day.

I took this picture outside this morning while it was snowing so the light isn’t the best, but it really did turn out nice. The fit is just perfect! You can’t really see the details well in the shot, but the sweater is knit from the top down (no sewing!!) with perfect set-in sleeves. I am just delighted with how nice it looks on me (and I eventually hope to have one of my knitting friends take a picture of me wearing it… you’ll just have to take my word for the fit. 🙂 Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

I’ve also been working like crazy on the Find Your Fade shawl. I’m now in the 5th color and am picking up speed as I slide through the second half of the shawl.

Shawl
The best thing is the majority of these colors came right out of the stash! This shawl is going to be huge, and it sure is turning out to be a stash buster!

I did make some changes to the colors (but you know that I am keeping the purple!). I decided that I wanted a beautiful fall like shawl more than I wanted the type of fade that transforms from one color to another, and I wanted to stick with the rosy colorways. The idea that I’m working with is more like the selection of fabrics for a quilt – each color goes with all of the others and the colors call to each other across the shawl just the way they do in quilts. What do you think of my efforts so far? It’s not a “fade” but it will look good and it makes me happy. Here are the project notes on Ravelry.

Stitch Marker
My stitch marker goes with the shawl. 🙂

I made this stitch marker from a hand blown glass bead that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last year. I really like the way it looks on the shawl – I may need to get a chain so I can wear the stitch marker like a necklace with the shawl. There are little circles of gold in the glass in the main body of the bead that really shine in the sun; perfect to go with the shawl!

It’s going to be a good weekend. Cold weather, knitting, and I even have yummy meals planned and a new book to read. Life is good.

Have a good weekend everyone!

MacKenzie Speaks: drijfhout Days

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat with knitting.
I’ve been helping the Mother of Cats every evening with the knitting. 

The Mother of Cats and I have been knitting up a beautiful new sweater for her to wear when she goes out into the snow. It really is nice and light weight knitting; perfect for me to snuggle under while she works.  Look at this yarn that she bought.

Yarn
This yarn goes perfectly with my coat; I especially like the red color. If she would make me a little cat sweater I could go outside with her on the snowy days. Does the Mother of Cats ever think of things like this? No, not so much. Humans can be so self-absorbed…
Sweater design.
She especially liked the red color and wanted to use it to highlight parts of the sweater. She is such a silly human she had to print pages of the cover picture to color with different ideas until she made her decisions. She should have just asked me! This is what she finally decided to knit. It’s OK, but I would have opted for more red on the upper parts of the sleeves.
Sweater
and this is what the sweater looks like with the first red stripe in it. Nice, huh.
Knitting detail.
Look at how great these yarns are knitted together. The envy of every cat, let me tell you.
Cat on sweater
Now we’re working on the sleeves. Hey, this sweater is exactly the right size to make me a cat bed… That would be even better than a cat sweater!!

We have been knitting this sweater for over two weeks. It’s a little boring if I have to be honest. As soon as she get going nicely she has to switch colors which means twisting the balls around each other.  I try to yarn chomp help her with the color changes, but she seems determined to thwart my every need. Still, we are making good progress and it should be done in plenty of time for the next big snow storm.

When she isn’t wearing it I’m pretty sure that I can sneak in some cat naps on it.

I’m such a good boy!

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

This pattern is drijfhout by Isabelle Kraemer. The proect notes of gukineru were especially inspiring and my sweater is basically based on hers. The yarn that I am using is Brooklyn Tweed Loft, which is a woolen spun yarn that creates an exceptionally warm but lightweight fabric, which probably explains why I can’t keep the cats away from it while I’m knitting. As soon as MacKenzie leaves the other cat moves in.

My Ravelry project notes are here.

MacKenzie Speaks: Big Project Days

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat
Would you believe it is 80 degrees out here in the middle of November? That’s a nice thing since the Mother of Cats has been spending all of her time with some NEVER-ENDING projects instead of spending time with me.

First it was the quilt. She completely ignored our needs and sewed and sewed for days. Then she laid everything out on the floor to make a sandwich of some type with this fluffy stuff called batting (That she would not let me roll in! Hello! Cat bait!!) that involved a lot of pinning and muttering. I even got stuck with a pin. NOT nice, Mother of Cats…

Quilt
Look at all of those pins. Why did she have to go and ruin a perfectly yummy cat bed?

Then the sewing started. It went on, and on, and on…

Quilting details.
Somehow she felt compelled to sew around all of the details in the quilt. All of them. Usually the Mother of Cats is pretty balanced, but this was just ridiculous.
Cat on quilt.
I hardly had time to catch a nap between sewing sessions!
Cat helping sewing effort
Finally she finished with the machine and spent a whole day binge watching Longmire on Netflix while she “sewed on the binding”, what ever that means. I really enjoyed hanging out with her while she stitched. It would have been better if she hadn’t moved me around so much. For some reason she just couldn’t settle down and leave the quilt in a comfy position. What is it with her obsession with pins?
Finished Quilt
Whew! It is done. Hey, wait a minute! What is my comfy new quilt doing up on the wall? Thanksgving? Cats don’t care about Thanksgiving. They want cat beds!! Mother of Cats, what are you thinking of?

Then she went shopping for some new toys for us and came back with a big heavy box. Boxes! Yellow Boy and I love boxes! We helped her unpack the whole thing and then she laid out all of these strange wooden pieces. Huh? Strange cat toys…

Cabinet pieces
What a mess. 

She got out tools including the POWER DRILL and that was that for me and Yellow Boy. We evacuated to the outside while she spent the afternoon and early evening putting her new mouse trap together. She says it is to hold her working stash and projects in the television room… whatever. We went out to chase squirrels and hunt bugs after dark. Ha! She totally forgot about us until an hour after our usually coming-in time.

Cabinet
And this is what she ended up with. How are we supposed to play with this? And all of the yarn? It’s put away where we can’t get it! Why isn’t she more sensitive about our needs? Cats need constant attention and entertainment. Yarn entertainment is quality time for cats.

Thank heavens there is still yarn out because she is knitting a sweater. She has been knitting this sweater forever. The yarn she is using is the absolute best for chomping, and I love squishing it with my paws. Imagine how I felt when she dumped all the pieces into the sink and then got them WET.

Cat on blocked sweater
 Oh wait, I do like the smell of wet yarn. Don’t you think it’s the best thing since day-old fish?
Cat
Then the Mother of Cats and I sewed all the pieces together…
Finished sweater
and suddenly it was done! Look! She wore it to her knitting group meeting yesterday.
Detail of sweater back
Check out the back. Don’t those textured stitches look like they belong in a cat bed?

And just like that, after weeks of work, three big projects got done this week. OK, the cabinet was only a day, but it was part of the “get ready for the holidays” effort. For some reason she thinks that the holidays are a big deal. Really, it is a lot of commotion. Cats don’t like commotion.

Hiding cat
See what I mean? This is what just a mention of Christmas does to Yellow Boy. He is not a fan of commotion…

Still, the Mother of Cats cast on several new projects last night to start on the Christmas knitted-presents drive. Lots of bits of yarn. Beads! Loose knitting needles and crochet hooks. Hey, I can help! I’m such a good boy. I love to help with all the Christmas fuss.

Cat face
Can I have some cookies now?

 

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The Grand Stand quilt (pattern 328 by Mountainpeek Creations) was bought as a kit from Holly’s Quilt Cabin. While the original fabrics are long gone it is still a cute design.
  • The sweater is the Guernsey Pullover by Norah Gaughan. This sweater has been going on and on for weeks with lots of help from MacKenzie. The yarn that he loves (as do I) is Malabrigo Rios. You can find my Ravelry notes here.
  • That cabinet was on sale at Target. Having cut my teeth on IKEA furniture I felt empowered to buy it, have them load it into my car and the rest is history. Take that loose knitting projects!