Hello Summer: Rainy Day Knits

Yesterday was the first day of summer. It was a cold and gloomy day. It rained, it hailed, it snowed in the mountains. The afternoon was filled with flashes of lightening and the booms of thunder. I kept the television on and watched the footage of a storm chaser stalking a supercell on the plains east of me while I knitted. (Here’s a supercell shot by Meteorologist Cory Reppenhagen last month.) Yep, just another crazy day in Colorado.

Hello summer. I thought you would never get here.

There has been so much water over the last two weeks it has been astonishing. I’m not complaining, really I’m not. The water is free, I don’t have to pay to put any on the lawn, and unlike many others in the United States, I haven’t sustained damage. Okay, the roses have taken a couple of hits and there was the matter of a destroyed tree, but I’m still grateful that we weren’t hit by a flash flood (even through the phone went off with a flash flood alert one day this week…) or baseball sized hail. Life is good.

I’ve been attacking the yard in the short rain-free openings in the weather, but mostly I have been knitting. There has been lots of knitting. Check it out:

I’ve made a lot of progress on a Suburban Wrap (Joji Locatelli) for my extremely knitworthy niece. This is such a fun knit: because of the color and pattern changes I just keep knitting and knitting so that I can get to the next fabulous section. My project notes are here.
I’m also knitting on my new arm warmers that will match my No. 5 Union Street socks that I made a few weeks ago. I’m having so much fun knitting on these in the evenings while listening to The Clockmaker’s Daughter. The book is excellent, full of rich detail and compelling characters who are introduced as the story evolves; the story is centered around a remarkable old home. How fitting that I’m listening to this book as I knit arm warmers that are designed to reflect the architectural details of an old home located at No. 5 Union Street in Stonington, Connecticut.  My project notes are here.
I have another What the Fade?! shawl going too. I love brioche knitting (after surviving a rather traumatizing learning curve that left me dreaming nightmares that involved picking up dropped brioche stitches…), and this shawl is the one that I pick up in the evenings while binge watching Netflix. My project notes are here.
Finally I have this little sock going as there always has to be a small project that can be stuffed into a bag that can head out on a trip with me at a moments notice. This is another of my ubiquitous 64 stitch vanilla socks based on the Dave pattern by Rachel Coopey.

Today is the second day of summer, and guess what is happening outside? Yep, you guessed it: it is raining!

As soon as I get this posted I will be settling down to knit. Again. June is going to be a pretty productive month when I total up all of the yarn that has been used up this month. The “Get 50 Skeins Out of the Stash” resolution project is looking pretty good at the moment.

I just have to get some of these projects done! Maybe I can just weigh them to figure out how much yarn has been used by the end of June? Must knit faster!

Have a great (knitting) weekend everyone!

MacKenzie Speaks: Busy Days

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Cat helping hold yarn.
Do you see how much help I am to the Mother of Cats? 

The weather has turned nice and the Mother of Cats and I have been busy working in the yard, knitting lots of projects, and getting yummy things cooked in the kitchen. I love hanging out in the kitchen with the Mother of Cats since she gives me extra attention, cookies, and even plates of tuna. Sometimes the Mother of Cat can be fun. Sometimes.

I have been so busy that I hardly know what to do with myself. Now that I am able to get back into the yard there is a lot for me to do. I need to inspect every corner of the yard, nap in all of my favorite places, make sure that all the other cats in the neighborhood understand that I am back (ahem… I do my business in all the right places…), and then there are the plants that I like to chomp. And bugs! The moths are back and every night I have another epic moth hunt that goes on for hours. The Mother of Cats hates the moths…

Cat munching on catmint in the garden.
The very best thing about summer is that I can get back to my catmint!! I can take naps under this plant when I’m not snacking on it. Next time I chat with all of you about the yard I’ll send some pictures of the flowers. The Mother of Cats likes the flowers, but for me, it is ALL ABOUT THE CHOMPS!!

Unfortunately, the Mother of Cats doesn’t let me stay outside as much as I would like. Always, we have to go back in before I want to. The Mother of Cats just doesn’t place my needs first like she should. She can be so MEAN to me! Okay, there are some thunderstorms in the afternoons… If she loved me she would make them go away so I could stay outside!! Why can’t the Mother of Cats understand how important the outside is?

Cat sleeping with ball of yarn.
But she does let me take care of her yarns while she is knitting in the afternoons.
Cat asleep with knitting.
This knitting is also a blanket for me while the Mother of Cats is taking a break. I kind of like this shawl. It is going to be really big when it is done. My new Blankie!!

The Mother of Cats spent a few days working on the new shawl (a What the Fade?! shawl by Andrea Mowry) and then became completely distracted and started working on some arm warmers to match the socks that she made not that long ago. I can be reasonable… I helped her knit those, too. After only two days of knitting in bed listening to an audiobook she was able to get one of the arm warmers done solely due to my devoted attention. Look at how nice it looks!!

Arm warmers in progress.
I don’t know when she will wear these as it is pretty warm these days, but you never know. For some reason she was just on fire to get these all knitted up. Here are the socks that they will match.

As you can see, I am just terrifically busy. Taking care of the Mother of Cats and the yard is kind of a full time job. Then there is my mouse. Do you remember how badly I needed a mouse? The Mother of Cats bought me a mouse (she says it is a hamster… whatever!) a few months ago and last week she moved her downstairs to be with us in the evenings while we knit.

Cat snoozing with hamster.
I love my mouse! I spend a lot of my time right by the mouse cage every evening when she wakes up for the night. She makes me happy, and the best thing ever is that she RUNS IN A WHEEL! She even has her own little cookies to eat. Miss Pitty-Pat is my best friend these days.

I can’t believe how much I have to do every day.

I am such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • My neighbors (I have the best neighbors in the world!) have been collaborating with me to spruce up our yards. Mulch has been spread on the side yard, a new flower bed started, and I’m even moving bricks to extend the patio/deck area in the back (we all had a brick swap!). Wait until MacKenzie sees the new patio umbrella I bought this weekend!
  • The downside of all this yard work is that sunshine is not kind to people with autoimmune diseases. After a week of bravely tackling yard projects in the late afternoons the flare arrived anyway and I had to hole up in bed for a few days being kind to myself. Not wanting to manipulate multiple balls of yarn with MacKenzie sleeping on my legs I switched over to the small arm warmers. The project notes for them are here. They are based on the No. 5 Union Street socks that I made earlier this spring.
  • I have several other projects going right now, but the major one is the What the Fade?! shawl that I am working on in shades of rusts. My project notes are here.
Yarns for shawl.
Check out the yarns! And no, this new shawl is NOT a blankie for MacKenzie!
  • I’m still deep in my flare, but I am knitting and listening to audiobooks like crazy and eating comfort food ; I am still in charge here, you bad boy autoimmune things!! MacKenzie isn’t happy about not being in the yard all day, but his issue is really with scleroderma, not me. Somehow he isn’t grasping the finer details of the situation… What can I expect? He is a cat. I bossy, self-centered cat who drips entitlement like none other. Seriously, I couldn’t function in a flare without this furry monster at my side. 🙂
  • It looks like we are going to have an epic miller moth season; every time I open the door to the garage another moth flies in. Great. MacKenzie is specializing in 1am moth hunts these days…

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!

FO Friday: The What the Fade?! is done.

Gosh, I just love a good shawl. I like them to add as an accessory, or to wrap up in to stay warm. I’ve been making them in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but last winter I realized that I wanted one that would cover me up to keep me warm while I was reading or knitting. I wanted it to hug my shoulders and stay where I put it, and I didn’t want to have to fuss around with a shawl pin. Something beautiful, but very warm, snuggly, and useful. Brioche would be a plus.

I hunted on Ravelry and decided that I would give What the Fade?! a spin on the old knitting needles. Into the stash I dived, and with MacKenzie’s help I found 6 skeins of yarns that made a smooth fade that would go with almost everything that I wear.

Yarn for the shawl.
Ta-daa! Don’t these look like they would make a great fade?

I’ve been knitting and blogging about this shawl for a whole month. MacKenzie has been exceptionally helpful along the way, and a couple of weeks of cold and rain really hurried things along. Yesterday I finished weaving in all of the ends and steam blocked the final product. Doesn’t this look great?

What’s not to love? This baby is big, and exceptionally squishy. Project notes are here
Knitted fabric.
Here’s a close-up of the details. This shawl scores really high on my happy knitter scale.

Now that it is done, let me sing the praises of this shawl’s design. It is hard to see in the picture, but there is an I-cord edge along the top of the shawl which made it really easy to make the color changes and to weave in the ends. What is even less obvious is how that I-cord edge stabilizes the brioche and garter stitches to make the shawl stay put while wearing it. The bind off is also an I-cord edging, which was tedious to do but so worth it in the finished product.  To maintain the squish factor the final shawl is gently steamed and tugged into shape, which was really easy to do. There are supposed to be tassels, but since I live with ill-behaved cats and want to wear this while sitting around knitting I have decided to leave them off.

Car on new shawl.
MacKenzie is totally in love with the shawl, of course. I found him sleeping on it where I had left it folded up ON THE TABLE!! He must have special wool seeking cat radar or something…

I’ve started two more projects to keep me busy that are more for spring/summer wearing. Look at how cute these are going to be…

Knitting
Behold the start of a Close to You shawl that will be a nice little item to drape around my neck on cool evenings to go with summer tops.  Here are the project notes on Ravelry. The yarn is Magnolia sock from Western Sky Knits. I bought it during my feeding frenzy at their booth when I went to the Interweave Yarn Fest this spring; there was no name on the yarn label, so it is a mystery color.
Knitting.
My newest summer top will be this powder blue Tegna sweater that I’m making out of some soya cotton that I found hanging out in the stash. Here are my project notes on Ravelry.

I fussed over the yarn for the Tegna for quite a while. The pattern sample was knitted with a fingering weight yarn that had some mohair in it, and the gauge called for 22 stitches in 4″ (and 28 rows). I fixated on the fingering weight. I was confused by the size 2 needles that the designer used. Finally I realized that this dk weight cotton yarn had exactly the same gauge on size 6 needles. Okay. This is a nice color, I told myself, and I should do it! I fearlessly cast on and started knitting away with total faith in the label (reckless is my middle name…) and I am happy to report that after 3 inches of knitting I am able to check that gauge and I am spot on!!! Clean living, good attitude, and lucky, lucky stars. I hope that I have enough yarn to make it a little longer than the pattern calls for, but I got so lucky with the stash yarn I really can’t complain.

I found some plum colored cotton/tencel yarn that might work too. It’s slightly heavier in weight, but what the heck. This is a sweater with lots of ease. What could go wrong?

Reckless!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Dreaming and Fading…

I’ve been just cranking on my What the Fade?! shawl for the last week or so since I last wrote about it. Once I had bid the brioche section at the top of the shawl goodbye it was garter time… lots of garter. This is really easy knitting even with the fun of the fading, and MacKenzie and I have just settled in to binge watch Netflix and crank out the rows of changing colors.

Knitting
The shawl is now so big that I can’t get it open for a picture, but you can still get an idea of how it looks. I just finished fading in that light blue speckle, and there are two more colors to go before I’m done. My project notes on Ravelry are here.

Here’s the thing… I’m doing a lot of dreaming about yarn colors and projects while I’m knitting. It makes things worse that I still have the fabulous Western Sky Knits yarns that I bought at the Interweave Yarn Fest last month still out on display to encourage my dreaming. I already blogged about this yarn: check this out if you want to see my fabulous dream-inducing colors! I’ve been reorganizing the yarn stash and going through my patterns between bouts of knitting, and then I kind of slip into a garter stitch, color-induced waking dream state where I match color/yarn ideas with patterns to decide on projects.

So, with no further ado, let me introduce you to the line-up of May and June projects:

Yarn for sweater
The blue tonal Posh Fingering yarn from the Uncommon Thread has been hanging out in my stash for about a year waiting for the right project. I just love this golden brown from WSK, and it also is 10% cashmere. Perfect match! I’m going to make a Zweig sweater from them, and the golden brown will be the lace yoke in the sweater. I can’t wait to get going on this, and every time I think of how cool this sweater will be the garter stitch pace in my Fade shawl picks up.
Yarn and pattern.
I absolutely love this skein of painted cashmere blend yarn from WSK. Don’t you think that it will look great with the Zweig sweater? I love the look of this little shawl, and I’m thinking that I should transform some of the handpainted Christmas yarn in my stash into scarfs like these for gifts. But not now. Now I have to knit all of this fabulous yarn that is calling to me.
Yarn.
These two yarns are my absolute favorites. I want to make a shawl that shows the two off really well, but not too crazy in the pattern. I’m not completely committed to it yet, but I’m pretty sure that I’m going to make Albuquerque Sunset by Casapinka with this yarn. Did I mention that I just bought a light pink summer top? Perfect!
Yarn and pattern.
Last but not least, how about a simple summer tee that will use up some of the cotton yarn in the stash and show off the colors of the shawls? Yep! I’m hoping that these Throwback Tees will just fly off of my needles, because I’m going to need them to go with these shawls!

See why I’m knitting so fast? Look at these fabulous yarns and great patterns! Actually there is a lot more where this came from. I just checked, and I have 25 items in my knitting Queue on Raverly, 1,122 patterns in my library, another 159 patterns in my Ravelry shopping basket, and a world class yarn stash. This is all kind of overwhelming if you think about it too much, which is why it is hard to finalize decisions. The last couple of days things just fell into place and I made a list of knitting decisions and kitted up the yarn with the appropriate pattern.

Then I went back to knitting my fade and dreaming of what to do with the colors I have left over. Dreaming of yarn and the beautiful, useful objects that I can make from them.

What can be better than that?

In case you’re wondering… I am still in the middle of testing to clarify the cause of my worsening scleroderma-related symptoms. This week I head in to see another doctor and will get my echocardiogram done; after my heart is sorted out I can get the pulmonary testing that I need. Right now the discussion is mostly about my heart, but they are still gathering data so no definitive diagnosis yet. Through all of this I’m just rocking my knitting and refusing to worry about what I can’t change. Tomorrow I’m planting more flowers in my garden! Peace on, everyone!

Yellow Boy Speaks: Trials of Spring

Hi. I’m Yellow Boy.

Yellow cat.
I’m hanging out with the Mother of Cats while she types on her computer.

The weather is really changing around here. It rained (and thundered!) all week, but then suddenly the sun came back out and things began hopping around here. The birds are singing like crazy, the squirrels are running through the trees, and there are flowers and leaves on the trees again. It is like magic. Let me show you what has been going on.

Crabapple blooms
The tree has flowers!
Squirrel eating flowers.
This crazy squirrel was eating the flowers on the tree by the Mother of Cat’s son’s apartment. I guess no one gives him kitty cookies…
Goose.
…and when the Mother of Cats and her son went to the movies they found a goose who had set up shop by the stairs. The mate of this goose is sitting on a nest in a nearby flower bed. Crazy goose. He should have gone in to see the Avengers movie with the Mother of Cats! I bet that the Hulk could give him some good tips on how to handle the movie crowds.

It’s like the world has come back to life after a long cold and snowy winter. The Mother of Cats never lets us go outside in the winter, and this year she is still making us stay indoors even though I’m pretty sure that the garter snakes and bugs are waking up and waiting for me to come chase them.

Nope. We are still trapped indoors.

Cat and knitting.
MacKenzie is helping the Mother of Cats with her knitting. Doesn’t he look good? NOT!! The reason he is eye balling that ball of yarn is because he is getting ready to chomp on it!
Cat paws in the knitting.
When he is not chomping yarn he is trying to put his claws into the knitting. She has gotten pretty cranky with him, but one thing about MacKenzie , he just keeps attacking the knitting in the hopes that she will become exhausted and give up. My money is on MacKenzie!

Friday the Mother of Cats packed up all of the knitting and worked around the house. MacKenzie and I spent the morning snoozing at the foot of her bed.

Sleeping cats.
Don’t we look innocent? Check out how long the fur is on the back of my legs. The Mother of Cats calls this fur my butt feathers. I love my butt feathers. They are almost as long as the fur on my chest. Don’t you think that I am a handsome boy?

Well, I was just innocently sleeping along when the Mother of Cats scooped me up and carried me off to the craft room where she had the clippers all plugged in and ready to go. SHE SHAVED ALL OF MY BUTT FEATHERS OFF!! And my fur matts, too. I was too stunned to wail, but I’m pretty sure I got a few squeaks off. MacKenzie didn’t even come to check on me. How could she do this to me?

Clipped cat.
See. No more butt feathers.

Oh, right. This happens every spring, now that I think about it. I shed like crazy, I get a lots of matted fur, and she cuts all of it off with the clippers. She also tried to shave the fur off of my tummy, but after a brief discussion that involved some claw and teeth demonstrations she gave up. She told me that we would get back to this latter, but I don’t think so. Good luck with that, Mother of Cats!

So, this is spring. The outside comes back to life with lots of singing birds and crazy squirrels, but some clean-up operations start happening around the house that I could definitely do without. I wonder when she is going to let me start going outside again. I wonder why she said we were going to have a bath next week?

Never mind that. MacKenzie says it is time for cookies now. He’s such a good brother.

Bye.

It’s cookie time!!

MacKenzie Speaks: Brioche Days

Hi. I’m MacKenzie.

Talking Cat.
The Mother of Cats has been very unfair to me lately…

To be frank, the Mother of Cats has been out of control for days. She has been working on this shawl that is using a stitch that she calls “brioche”. Lots of brioche. Brioche in color after color.

Yarn for shawl.
All of these colors to be exact. Why does she have to use sooo many colors. Okay, I did help her wind these yarns, which was a lot of fun, but now she won’t let me touch them. She keeps them in a plastic container with a LOCKING LID! What is up with that?
Claws in the knitting.
The second I get a paw into the brioche she goes all crazy on me and makes me stop. She even YELLED at me!

I cannot believe that she is acting this way. This brioche is the yummiest knitting that she has done in quite a while. So squishy. So wonderful under my paws. So perfect for a new cat blanket…

Brioche section of "What the Fade?!" shawl.
See what I mean? There is an ocean of this brioche so far, and if she would just give it to me I would certainly put it to good use.

Nope. She is refusing to let me take a nice nap on this blanket. She let the smelly starfish touch the blanket, but me, her most devoted kitty, not a chance! I am concerned about her priorities. I’m not sure that she still loves me the way that she used to.

Cat being petted.
Okay. Maybe she does love me a little bit.

Last night she finally finished the brioche portion of the shawl and started on the garter stitch section. Garter stitch! I like garter stitch too. The way this shawl is growing there is no way she will be able to keep me off of it. Ha! Take that Mother of Cats!

I’m such a good boy.

Can I have some cookies now?

>^..^<

Notes from the Mother of Cats: This shawl is the What the Fade?! shawl by Andrea Mowry. My project notes are here on Ravelry. I am proud to announce that I found every single one of these yarns in the stash (with my sidekick MacKenzie helping me dig through bins…) and didn’t have to resort to any shopping to close color gaps in the fade. Yay, stash!!