MacKenzie Speaks: Rolling in the Warp!

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

MacKenzie
The weather has been really nice this week and the Mother of Cats and I have been spending mornings out in the yard before the thunderstorms come in the afternoon.

This week the Mother of Cats put all of her knitting away so she could start working on a NEW CAT TOY for me and Yellow Boy. Actually, Yellow Boy is afraid of it, so this new cat toy is all for me.

Warp on loom.
Look at this! Isn’t that the best thing you’ve ever seen? She spent a whole day putting these little yarns (she calls them warp… whatever…) over this board so that I could roll in the pile on the floor. I can’t believe that she cares this much…
Cat attacking warp.
She even put a chair in front of the yarns so that I could easily whap them with my paw!
Cat
What? Whatever are you talking about? I’m not hurting these at all. I’m always careful with my toys…
Cat
OK, you don’t have to make a big deal about it….¬†
Cat
The Mother of Cats can be so emotional. I’ve talked about this before, but I do feel that it is a flaw in her character. I was just looking…
Warp on loom.
… and she tied all of my yarns up into little bows so I couldn’t play with them any more. I never realized that the Mother of Cats could behave in such a petty manner!
Woven fabric on the loom.
Now she is completely ignoring me and playing with the yarns all by herself. Hey, this was MY TOY!!! First an Enemy Cat moves into my yard, and now this! She even keeps sitting in my chair. I really don’t understand how she can behave this way. If there wasn’t a thunderstorm outside I would go away and just ignore her. Bad Mother of Cats!

In the late afternoons after the thunder stops the Mother of Cats and I get to go outside to water and chase bugs. Maybe she isn’t so bad after all, even though she seems to have a problem sharing her toys.

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats: I received a commission to make these cotton dish towels a few weeks ago, so after I finished up with the major yard work I pulled out the loom and got her dressed again. Gosh, I have missed weaving. Anyone want a dish towel? Is it too soon to put on a Christmas colored warp?

Knit on, my friends, unless of course you are weaving this week. ūüôā

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Reporting the Launch of some WIPs

Last week after getting some big projects out of the way I pulled out more craft stuff and got going on the Christmas knitting and messed with some other crafts. Now I’m rolling in the WIPs, but hey, who wants to be stuck in just one project? Boring!! Better to have several going at the same time with different features

Mitt
Detail work: these mitts are tedious with the charted lace pattern, beads and twisted ribs. Great for focused knitting during a football game. (Akiko Mitt, Ravelry page here.)
Jujuy Shawl in Progress
This shawl is all garter and a simple mesh knit. Ahh! My Netflix binge watching buddy! (Jujuy Shawl, Ravelry page here.)
Warped loom
and for the sunny mornings, what could be better than a cup of latte and time at the loom. I warped up my little table top 8 shaft loom to play around with some different ideas.
Weaving
Here’s my first effort with some old Christmas yarn for the weft…
Weaving
and this is what the same pattern looks like in a balanced weave with a tencel yarn of the same weight as the warp.

I’m thinking of making a scarf. There are lots of different treadle patterns possible with this warp, so I’m digging in the yarn stash to see what else I can play with. I just found some lace weight grey alpaca, and there is this alpaca/silk yarn too… Gosh, this is fun. ūüôā I might even figure out how to record this on Ravelry. Other people have weaving projects recorded. Must push the boundaries and learn something new!

Snow on flowers
The only other news around here is that it finally has snowed.
Cats
Overall the cats are disgusted with the change in weather, but amazingly have become buddies again in the cool air. Ah, the circle of life. Gone are the bug hunting days of summer, and here again are the feline pile-ups of winter. ūüôā

Happy Christmas crafting everyone.

Finished Objects: Dishtowels!!!

This has been going on for weeks. I warped the loom almost a month ago and since then I’ve been working on a set of dishtowels off and on. I’ve been posting pictures of the weaving on the loom, but they all kind of look the same and I hated to keep boring all of you with the pics. The work has been¬†disrupted by snow, doctor’s appointments and knitting¬† emergencies deadlines, but this week I finally got to the end of the warp; the weaving was done.

Yesterday I pulled out my best sewing shears, gritted my teeth and cut the warp.¬†I mean, I’ve been so careful to not injure any of the warp threads for days and days, and now I have to cut them?! Yikes! But as soon as I’d pulled the cloth out it was totally worth it,. Look, look!!

Cloth
Here’s the cloth handing over my stair rail showing two¬†different sections of the 5 yard length¬†of weaving. The cloth on the left required me to change color bobbins every twenty threads and the right section of cloth was made using natural colored cotton weft. If you are a weaver and interested, these towels are turned twill, 20 tpi,¬†made on my 8 shaft¬†Schacht Baby Wolf loom. I used 8/2 unmercerized cotton thread.
Cutting towels apart
There were five towels in the length of cloth; each towel is about 30″ long. Today I cut them apart (I wove in a tiny white strip to give me a cutting line…)
Ironing Towels
Pressed a folded hem on each side of the towels…
Sewing Hems
sewed the hems down…
Finished towels.
and my towels are done. I have three of the white weft check towels and two of the plaid check towels. My kitchen is going to be very, very happy with these. I’m now trying to think of how to make curtains in these colors for the kitchen window.¬†

I folded up the loom this afternoon and rolled it back into the office to its usual hibernating location. As I wedged it back into the closet I do believe that the spinning wheel shivered his treadles at me.¬†He’s right. It is about time that he got to come out to play.

Next week it will be spinning time! Woohoo!!

Rocking the Week #6

Here is my crazy week with a lot of picture support.

Bee on blooms.
Last Thursday I went to the first appointment with palliative care. On the way in from the parking lot I had to walk under blooming trees. Look! The first bee of the season. ūüôā You know, it was hard to get this shot with the phone camera… I think that I entertained some of the other visitors to the clinic while I chased this little guy around.

I’m pretty sure I’ve flunked out of palliative care. Here’s the problem: I need someone to help me manage my overall medical care (since I have six different doctors at this point…) but they don’t really do that. They do help people with serious end of life decisions and provide medical options¬†to ensure their comfort; I got some great advice and then they kind of turned me loose back into the health care stream. I’m kind of a catch and release palliative care patient: they will call every three months to check on me, but basically I’m doing pretty well. I have a serious illness, but I’m not yet seriously ill enough to really justify taking up their time. I’m already doing a lot of the things that they encourage patients to do (and so do all of you, too.) It’s really important to do something that helps with stress¬†like meditation (or knitting, spinning, and weaving!) and they told me to start keeping a journal (Oh, you blog? Never mind! Just carry on with that, they said.) Really, it was encouraging. They told me to use the inhaler as much as I want and to go to more frequent appointments with my primary care doctor. Check. I can do that. ūüôā

It is good to think about end of life decisions, though. Here’s how I reacted: I called my kids (and grandson) and told them that we need to all go to Walt Disney World for a fun vacation. We will ride the Monorail, buy Micky Mouse ear hats, go to the Star Wars attractions, and it will be wonderful.¬†I’m also systematically cleaning out all of my junk from cupboards and the garage. Does anyone want my Great-Aunt Alice’s set of crystal platters? How about a classroom set of homemade DNA models? A well-used heavy duty 3-hole punch? Right. All those things are out of here!!

Hummus
Friday I decided to go wild and made homemade chickpea hummus using the recipe from fellow blogger Ros (Cooking Up The Pantry). I cooked the chickpeas in my crock pot for 6 hours on low, and then everything went into the food processor. Oh, my goodness! Several days later I am still eating it with veggies and warmed flat bread. Yumm!! All of the food Ros has in her blog is to die for. Seriously. I would knit for her for food.
Weaving
I’m still weaving on the dishtowels. I’m getting towards the end of the warp: this is the fifth towel in the set. Weaving is really quality time for me. I worry about the plot of the book I’m reading, come up with my grocery shopping list, and dream up new patterns for fingerless mitts. Once I’m in the zone it is like magic.
Pansies.
The last two days have been warm and I’ve started clearing out the flower beds. Look! Pansies that survived the winter!
Phlox
and of course the Phlox has started blooming. I have a big bed of this and it keeps sending out satellite colonies of phlox all over the yard.
Shawl
Not only did the phlox start blooming, I got the Waiting for Rain (by Sylvia Bo Bilvia) shawl finished. The colors in this yarn look just like the phlox to me. This is a perfect springtime shawl! Here are my project notes on Ravelry.
Edge of shawl.
Isn’t the yarn yummy? this is LYDIA sock yarn in the colorway Garden Party. I added a picot edge to the bind off.¬†
Book and knitting
Tonight I’m working on my Snowfling Mitts again and reading my current book. The suspense in the book is just killing me. Every few chapters I have to take a little knitting break. ūüôā If you can’t read the title that is Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline.

It has been really nice this week; warm and sunny with blooms and bees. However, this is Colorado; we have a winter storm warning posted for tomorrow because a humongous storm is roaring in to dump huge amounts of moisture¬†for the next 5 days. Seriously. I’m wondering how many inches of snow is made by four inches of water. The storm is the big story on the news and each update reports it to be building in intensity from the last report. Yikes! Maybe I should pick up speed on the mitten knitting.

That’s OK. I have hummus, books and yarn. I am all good.

Have a great weekend everyone. If you should happen to see a snow shovel, think of me.

 

 

 

Running with my Peeps

If there is a downside to being consumed by a love of all things fiber it is this: it is way too easy to stay at home for days on end knitting, weaving, spinning and just playing in the stash. If it wasn’t for social obligations (my knitting group!) and a need to go grocery shopping from time to time I could stay home happily for endless blocks of time.

Really, that probably isn’t all that healthy. How nice I also get to toddle off to Kaiser on a regular basis to give blood, pick up prescriptions, and to breathe into machines that measure my lung function. ūüôā

Okay, enough of that. This is about knitting and all things fiber after all. I’m talking about the major outing that I took last Friday to go to the Interweave Yarn Fest in Loveland, Colorado. I didn’t sign up for any of the workshops this year (but maybe next year!), but I felt that I absolutely had to go up to hit the Marketplace and to meet up with my friends from Alta Vida Alpacas.

You know, a huge marketplace filled with vendors carrying everything your fiber-loving heart can desire is a dangerous place. I handled it by cruising through the whole place and picking up cards from the vendors that stole my heart. I took a little coffee break with the cards, gave myself a little talking to while checking patterns on Ravelry, and then waded back into the marketplace to spend money. This is what happened:

Beads
Hand blown glass beads to make more stitch markers. Guess what people are getting for Christmas this year? These beads are made by a local artist, Bernadette Fuentes. Here is her shop on Etsy.
Project Bag
I’m also giving some of these small project bags suitable for sock and mitt knitting. The strap allows the bag to hang on your wrist while the yarn is safely contained in the bag by the cinched cord. There are also little pockets in the bag for stitch markers and other small essentials. Perfect for knitting while on the go (and waiting to see your doctor…). If you can’t read the card in the picture these bags are by Slipped Stitch Studios.
Roving
Yak and silk handpainted roving. OMG!! I think that they had me at yak!
Roving
Yep. They had me. I had to bring home 4 ounces of the crocus and twilight colorways. These 50/50 yak/silk rovings are by Greenwood Fiberworks.
Button
Then I had to face the great existential question of the fiber day: should I spend $50 dollars for a very special button? These unbelievable objects of beauty are made by Jodie McDougall. Here is her Etsy shop.
Yarn
I was starting to lose a little steam but pulled it together to get these three skeins of baby alpaca and silk from Lisa Souza. The depth of color and feel of these skeins is just amazing. I plan to make an Exploration Station and am still on the hunt for a cream colored silk/alpaca yarn to go with them.
Shawl Pin
I closed out my shopping with this wonderful saggar shawl pin from LickinFlames. The colors are perfect for that shawl that will eventually be made from the Lisa Souza yarns.
Cards
Here are all the cards. I’m saving them with my shopping scores.

Having shopped to my heart’s content I moved out into the atrium to find a comfy chair to knit in while I waited for my friends from Alta Vida Alpacas to get out of their workshops. It was wonderful. Fellow knitters stopped to ask about my Joker and the Thief shawl, and I talked to many people about the hand knits that they wore. I made new friends. I could feel myself recharging with inspiration¬†and enthusiasm as each new person stopped to knit and/or talk with me. Sometimes it is easy to forget that each one of us solitary crafters are members of a huge community, but Friday afternoon as the community flowed around me I was at home with my peeps. What a wonderful, wonderful experience.

Eventually I caught up with my friends: we ate more hummus than is wise and swapped stories, observations, and revelations from the Yarn Fest.  They had just submitted their first batch of fiber to the mill and we made plans for the yarn that will arrive in a few weeks. The online store launch is right around the corner. It is only a few months to the next summer camp; this year we will focus on weaving.

Finally, long after dark I headed home full of energy and plans. I hugged my new fiber finds as I went into the house. What a great outing. What a wonderful time I had. What a wonderful experience with other people who share my interests.

It is good to be with your peeps.

 

 

 

Rocking the Week #3 I have some finished objects!!

This was such a fun week. I think that I’m just going to throw up some pictures of the main events because, well, don’t you just want to see what I’m making? Of course you do! Here we go. Hang onto your knitting needles and crochet hooks because I am moving fast!!

Socks
My Vanilla Dragon socks are done! These are knit from the toe up with an after-thought heel. The pattern is Vanilla Socks, and the yarn is MJ Yarns Simple Sock in the colorway Purple Dragon. Ravelry notes here. This is a free pattern guys!
Mittens
That Purple Dragon is fun stuff! I started a pair of Snowfling Mitts using the worsted-weight version of the MJ yarn with some black Malabrigo Rios. Hey, it is good practice before I knit these mittens out of my homespun yarn.
Weaving
I have finished weaving my first dish towel and started on a plaid version. . This towel is going to my cousin Ruth Ann. I need to have all the weaving done and off the loom by Easter so I can deliver her towels to her. 
Fingerless mitts
My scleroderma support group meets tomorrow so I also got some more mitts finished to give away.
Yarn
On Wednesday I found the yarns that I needed to put together the kit to knit Exploration Station by Stephen West. The two yarns that aren’t wound yet (the newly found ones) are lace weight. I plan to just knit them double. How about that for a yarn hack!
Dog Hair
While I was at the yarn store one of my friends gave me a bag of Golden Retriever hair to spin for her. Hmmm… doggie yumminess. I’m going to try to convince her to blend the dog down with some soft wool to give the yarn a little bounce. This will be fun. Really.
Crocus
and look what appeared while I was knitting the Purple Dragon socks! I guess spring is on the way.
Slippers
OK, I know that this is a little over the top, but I was so anxious to see how this yarn would work up I cast on last night and started the Dream Club slippers. Fun! They are really cushy because of the Eye of Partridge stitch.

That’s it! That was the week. I also got some beads in the mail to make stitch markers, but you don’t really want to see an envelope from China, do you? I’ll just save that piece of cuteness for the post about those stitch markers. I also had a surge of energy/empowerment that led me to drive two hours in the middle of the week to a hospital up north so that I could get my medical records from all the lung and heart testing I’ve gone through the last two years. I sent an email to one of my doctors¬†that set off a series of phone calls¬†and now some new tests are ordered and I have a referral to a pulmonary specialist. As soon as I go¬†to the clinic this afternoon¬†I can¬†pick up a shiny new inhaler to help me breath.¬†¬†Empowerment is a good thing!

Have a great week everyone. If you find yourself knitting at midnight, think of me.

 

 

Rocking the Week #2: Knitting, Weaving, the Super Tuesday Caucus, and a trip to a Howitzer.

Here we are again: not even one little finished object for the dang exhausting week. Every day¬†was a whirlwind of activity, however, so¬†once again I’ve decided to share the journey with all of you with pictures of the highlights.

Colored Mitts
This pattern is Dueling Gradient Mitts being knitted in Kauni bought years ago. 

 

I kept knitting on the Dueling Gradients Mitts that I started the week before, but the colors are changing really slowly in the yarn and I started to get bored. I played with the color placements and am thinking about doing a little Fair Isle somewhere in the mitt. I have more balls of this yarn and can introduce another color (or two) earlier in the mitt. I’m still thinking¬†things over,¬†so the project got parked. I’m considering a little rippage for this baby. Maybe I’ll put a band of Fair Isle above the thumb on this mitt and below the thumb on the next one. Hmmm…

 

While the Duelling Gradients are
This is my own simple pattern. Here it is on Ravelry.

While the Dueling Gradients are hibernating and growing up some new ideas I pulled out some Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20 to make some mitts for the Scleroderma bin. These are the mitts that I sell to other patients in my support group for the cost of the yarn. Simple, lightweight, warm and absolutely mindless knitting.

Tuesday was Super Tuesday here in the United States. Along with 150,000 other people I went to caucus for my candidate that night, Yowza! What a night!

Sock
Purple Dragons for my feet. Take that Raynaud’s!!

On Wednesday I go to my knitting group at a local yarn shop and for some reason I wanted a little wild color along with simple knitting to take to that. Hello¬†Vanilla Socks!¬†¬†These socks are toe up and have an afterthought heel. I keep seeing other people making these socks in their blogs and decided that I should jump on that bandwagon too. Look at how cute they are turning out! This yarn is from MJ Yarns and is Simple Sock Fingering Weight. This colorway is Purple Dragon and I absolutely love it! I bought some Purple Dragon to make some mittens too, but that is for another week’s post.

Howitzer
My son tells me that this is a self-propelled Howitzer

Yesterday I hit the road to return the materials from the Project Learning Tree workshop I facilitated for the school district I live in. How fun! I had to drive across town to historic Camp George West near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The old buildings of the base are now used by many Colorado State agencies, but they still have old armaments out on display.

It sure does fill like Spring, although March is traditionally our snowiest month.¬†The plants in my garden are starting¬†to come back to life. The prairie dogs are¬†barking and playing in open lots across town. We’ll be seeing baby dogs before long; I always think that I should bring leftover veggies to these little guys but it is probably best to leave wild critters be, ūüôā

Bag and flowers.
How could I resist the cute floral tote and some flowers from the nursery! The rose will have to stay indoors with me but the pansies are the type that can survive snow so they go into the ground next week. 
Dishtowels on loom
Oh, yeah. I almost forgot! The major activity of the week has been weaving. I’ve been binge watching Shades of Blue and throwing my shuttle to make dishtowels. This towel is using a white weft, but the next towel will be plaid with the weft in the same colors as the warp. I just love this process; throwing the shuttle, creating the fabric and winding it onto the cloth roller is just a source of joy to me. It is a little hard on my hands so I only weave an hour or so at a time, Still, I should have the whole set of towels before long.¬†

See: lots done, nothing finished! Even as I write this I am thinking about going upstairs to wind some more yarn and am fighting an urge to play in the stash to find yarns/colors for shawls. A whole set of shawls!!

Guess next week will be much like this one. ūüôā