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.

MacKenzie Speaks: Done, Done, and Done!!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

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

FO Friday: Week 3, Year 2019

MacKenzie has slept through most of the knitting this week, so I am going to have to post my progress in my own “voice” this week.

Sleeping MacKenzie.
Actually, the only time that I have been able to knit this week has been while he was sleeping.

I think that it is the weather. It snowed over the weekend and the days were gloomy. I had to do errands this week which left him home alone for too many hours; ocicats do not tolerate alone time well. He still misses his brother Yellow Boy. Anyway, when he was up it was all “pet the cat!” all the time. He had absolutely no interest in the knitting or yarn chomping; instead he just climbed on me, head butted my hands to make me pet him and ran his purr engine on high. He is so cute about it the knitting went away each time he showed up at my knitting chair. So, no knitting with cat pictures this week.

In spite of the needy MacKenzie I did get a lot accomplished over the week. Check this out!

Stitch detail of the cowl.
I cast on and started on a Clinkerbell Cowl for myself over the weekend. This MCN DK yarn (another Western Sky Knits score from the Estes Park Wool Market this summer) is just a joy to knit with.
Finished cowl.
By Tuesday I had the cowl done and steam blocked. I just love, love, love this piece and plan to take it out shopping in the snow this afternoon. My Ravelry project notes are here.

I also pulled out a languishing WIP and got knitting on it again. I have several skeins of Brown Sheep yarn that I have had stashed for over 10 years. Now that I am attacking the stash I have pulled myself together and am knitting steadily on this sweater to get it done while it is still cold outside.

Start of sweater.
This is a single ply wool/mohair yarn that is going to be a workhorse for me in this sweater. Can’t you just feel the cushy warmth coming right at you through the picture? You can, can’t you! That’s what I’m talking about.
Progress on my sweater.
Look at how far I got this week!

This sweater is the Daelyn Pullover by Isabell Kraemer, and the second one that I’ve made so I know that it is going to be the perfect warm sweater for casual wear. Okay, let’s be honest. That is just about every day for me these days as I am all about layered wooly comfort that will keep my Raynaud’s under control. This sweater is going to be seeing a lot of wear for sure, hopefully for years to come. My Ravelry project notes are here.

So how am I doing on the 2019 yarn stash challenge? I used up another three skeins of yarn this week!! I am now up to a grand total of 6 skeins for the year; only 44 more to go.

Have a good weekend everyone.

MacKenzie Speaks: Zweig Alert! It is done at last.

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat and sweater
Do you see what is flopped on top of me? It is the finished Zweig!!

That’s right. The Zweig is finished at last. The Mother of Cats stayed in bed all Thursday with me knitting away on it while listening to a book for her evening book club event, when suddenly, it was done! After hours of being forced to stay off the sweater it was suddenly a nice little blanket for me. Good job, Mother of Cats!

Oh, no. The Mother of Cats was just messing with me. Why doesn’t she take my needs more seriously?  Within minutes of binding off the last sleeve she had dumped the whole mess of yarn into a sink and covered it with water. Why does she do these things?

Cat helping block a sweater.
Okay, I must admit that I do like wet wool.
Cat on sweater
Forget that. I LOVE the smell of wet wool. It’s curiously soothing…

I had just started to paw the wet sweater into a nice cushy bed for myself when the Mother of Cats freaked out, shrieked, and chased me off. She covered my sweater with another layer of towels after that to let it dry overnight. I slept on top of the towels for awhile with a couple of my toys, but it just wasn’t the same.

Today she moved it to a screen to dry some more, and this afternoon, still damp and with strings hanging off of it,  she took it out for a picture. Did she let me play with the strings? Did she let me go outside with her? NO! SHE DID NOT! I do not understand why I am being neglected this way.

Zweig hanging in tree.
It looks pretty good out there, doesn’t it?

The Mother of Cats is kind of moping around now that the sweater and her book is done; maybe she needs some catnip.  I’m finally getting more attention and cookies, but last night she began to dig through the yarn stash and organizing stuff into bins labeled “Christmas Knitting” and “Fingerless Mitts”. I helped her with that as much as I could and even got some red yarn rolled under the guest bed. I’m such a good helper! I’m pretty sure that she will be busy on new projects, but right now I’m getting more attention. As I should.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This sweater was cast on the last day of summer, and I am so pleased to report that it is done just in time for cold, blustery weather coming in next week.
  • The sweater is Zweig by Caitlin Hunter. I knitted it in two cashmere blend yarns that were just a joy to work with. The blue even has some silk in it! I was torn about what color to combine with the blue but eventually settled on the gold as it made the blue come alive best.
  • Yarn
    Here the yarns are when I made the final decision for the sweater. 
  • You can find my project notes on Ravelry here.
  • Last night I returned to a shawl that had been neglected for a months. Soon after casting on I had decided I didn’t like it very much; now I can’t wait to get it done and to cast on another. My head is swimming with different color combinations for more shawls. Maybe some for Christmas?
  • Oh, yeah. Christmas gift knitting. Maybe it is time to get going on that. I usually start panic knitting after Thanksgiving, but why not start the panic a little earlier this year? Let’s see… I have a cowl to do, several hand warmers, some stars and candle covers, towels to weave and dishcloths to make, quilting that was put off from last year, and…
  • TIME TO PANIC KNIT!!!

 

MacKenzie Speaks: We’re making a Zweig!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat on sweater.
I’ve been hanging out with the Mother of Cats for days working on our new sweater.

This sweater is really nice. The yarn that the Mother of Cats is using is part cashmere and silk: my favorite to take a nap on. Every time she puts it down I move right in for a quick nap!

Cranky cat.
But she always get cranky and chases me off. Why does the Mother of Cats act like this? She is so inconsiderate and possessive of her things.

I must say, even though she puts the knitting down pretty often (nap time!), we have been making pretty good progress. Look at where we are this morning…

Seater in progress.
Ta-da!! We are now working our way down the first sleeve!

I’m really not a fan of the sleeve knitting: every time the Mother of Cats turns the knitting the whole sweater whaps me in the head. It really gets a little old after a while. She should be more careful, don’t you think? Still, this is a really nice sweater, even when it is whapping me in the head instead of being left on the couch for me to take a nap on. Here are some of my favorite details:

Lace detail of the knitting.
Look a this lace yoke and the strip of colorwork.
Stitch detail.
The body of the sweater has this funky X-stitch pattern. The Mother of Cats followed the directions and learned how to knit this without the cable needle.

This afternoon the Mother of Cats plans to do some binge watching on Netflix while she continues on the sleeve. Drat. Maybe I will spend my time watching for birds and the enemy cat in the back window. My poor head is getting really tired of all the abuse. As soon as she gets up to make dinner, though, the sweater is mine! Cat naps will be happening again.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • This sweater is Zweig by Caitlin Hunter. The yarns that I am using and other information can be found in my project notes on Ravelry.
  • I blended the skeins of yarn together using helix knitting for about 2 inches at the transitions. This is the video (posted by Pepperly) that I used to figure out how to do the changes, and I actually knitted an entire round with each yarn and then just made the switch and tensioned the way she described it in the video. Worked great, the switch is smooth, and the knitted fabric feels great.
  • I started this sweater on the first day of fall. I hoped to get it done before the first snow, but that happened last week before I even got to the bottom of the sweater’s body. It is nice and warm today, and with some luck the sweater will be done before our next serious cold snap.