Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saga of the Klik Klak

When I moved 12 years ago, I bought quite a bit of new furniture, but couldn't afford a new sofa. And even if I could, very few styles appealed to me. So I moved my battered, 1940's era sofa, a second-hand purchase, into my new house and made do.

Over the years, it became even more battered, as three cats used it for a scratching post, and eventually it stayed covered year-round with sheets or quilts and one very ugly slipcover.

It's one good point was that it was very comfortable to nap on, and I could sit on it with all three cats without too much fighting. But it had outlived it's life expectancy years ago.

These days, I still can't afford a new sofa. Not a very fancy one, anyway. And I'm still having trouble finding something I like. And most of the furniture these days is still big, for those big new houses with gymnasium-sized living rooms. Not for my 1950's Cape Cod.

A few years back, I started reminiscing, remembering a sofa (we called it davenport) that we had in the 60's. It was a convertible sofa, meaning you lifted up the front, and then the back folded down, and it became a bed. And there was a storage cabinet underneath. Now, you might be thinking, yeah, a futon, but no, this was upholstered furniture. not a frame and mattress. And it had arms. If you were a tall visiting relative, you had to sleep diagonally so as to avoid the arms. In those days, I loved it, and it was fun. We played on it, slept on it, and I think we even tried to hide a kid or two in the storage underneath. Eventually, it gave way, and we got rid of it, but the memory lingered.

Fast forward to the present. I realized that in my small house, storage is a premium item. I started remembering that sofa, and thinking how clever, and why don't they make something like that today. Then I saw one on "Mission Organization" one day, and the hunt was on. I surfed the web relentlessly, and found a handful of sofas, but either they were mail orider only, or located in Canada, or still too expensive. Then last year, I found the Klik Klak brand, and there were even some in a furniture store about an hour away. This was exactly what I wanted, and I loved the name. Klik Klak! That's the sound it makes when you flip it up and down. How cute!

In July, I was looking through the local Shopko store flyer, and lo-and-behold, they had Klik Klaks! On sale! Four styles! I went right to the store that night, and yes, they had the model I wanted, with arms, upholstered, with storage, all good! Except....out of stock. I got a rain check, and was told I should check back in a week.

Week One: - No Klik Klaks yet. None at any area store. Call again.
Week Two: - Still no Klik Klaks. Another ad comes out; now they're even cheaper. I get a new raincheck.
Week Three: I'm calling twice a week now, because they get trucks in twice a week. But no Klik Klaks, nowhere. Another ad comes out, and now my model Klik Klak is a half page ad, still on sale.

Week Four: I'm calling every store in the area twice a week. Still no Klik Klaks. I know by now that each store has at least 7 on order, but that each store has rain checks out for 12 sofas or more. There might be a problem with the manufacturer, because nobody is getting any.

So last Saturday I wrote a letter to Shopko customer service. I politely asked if they could tell me what was going on. And I also told them, that no matter what store I called, or who I talked to, everyone was extremely polite and helpful. Really. It was amazing. I'm sure other people besides me were calling; they pretty much had the SKU memorized. But never did they act like "oh it's the pesky sofa lady again". Nope. Always very helpful, very sympathetic. All for a cheap sofa. But really, corporate needed to get it's act together.

Monday I received a call from the store manager - corporate had forwarded my e-mail to him. He gave me the inside scoop that they did check into it up the line. They did have problems with the manufacturer, but that stock should start arriving within the next two weeks. They did pull the sofas from upcoming ads until they could fulfill all the outstanding rain checks. And, even though it's not store policy, they WOULD call me when a sofa came in, and I would definitely get one. (I missed out on one that came in the week before because somebody else called at the right time and I did not). I told the manager how pleased I was with the everyone's helpfulness.

And lo and behold, today, about a week ahead of their estimate, I got a call from the store. One more sofa came in, and they were holding it for me until Monday. The timing was perfect; since it was Saturday, I could get my brother to help, and we could take my old sofa to the recycling center, then go get the new one. Which is what we did! And here it is!

Ok, I realize, it's just a cheap sofa. It's not spectacular. But, it's what I can afford, and it's what I want. It's here, it's mine, and I'm going to enjoy stretching out on it and watching the Olympics!

Evenutally, I'm going to move it to the spare bedroom, where it will replace a twin bunk bed. That was the original intent. For the living room, I might get another Klik Klik, or a more traditional sofa. For now, I've perked up the living room and life is good. By the way, when I went to the store to pick it up, I took the staff fresh baked brownies, as a thank-you for being so helpful. Because they genuinely were. Good job!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How Do They Do It?

I would love to blog everyday. I have been reading several blogs over the summer months. It amazes me that these women have time to knit (some prolifically), work, raise a family, keep house, travel, take photos, and blog about it all. Some manage it every day. How is this possible?

I think some of them must walk around with a camera constantly in their pocket. Even though my camera is small, I don't always remember to take it with me. And then fiddle with the pictures, etc.

Maybe they don't always keep a clean house. You could't tell it from the photos. Maybe they never sleep! I just don't know.

I get up by 6 am, feed the cats and get myself to work. When I come home, I usually make supper, check the mail and e-mail, and then either do chores, work on my ebay and etsy shops, or relax with some tv and knitting. Play with the cats, get ready for the next day, and in bed by 10:30. Chores are usually yardwork in the summertime, or snow shovelling and woodcutting in the winter. The house cleaning type work gets done mostly on weekends, or when I feel like squeezing it in.

I am constantly trying to organize my life, house, and possessions. I am constantly cleaning up after the cats, their food area, litter box, and whatever mess they've made while I was gone (they're good at it, believe me).

And yes, this leaves very little time for socializing. That's ok, I don't have much desire to socialize. I did go to many ball games this summer, and that cut into my free time even more.

I don't know what the secret is, but I'm going to try my darndest to get moving. I've always thought I was a pretty good multi-tasker, but maybe I'm not such a good time manager.

The start of school always stirs feelings of getting organized, getting busy, settling down to a more sturctured routine. Maybe a list of assignments is the answer. A schedule for the off-work hours. We'll see. Something's got to change around here. And it's got to start with me!

In closing, here's a pretty little photo from the backyard.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Attack of the Mutants!!!

I've been attacked!! By these....
I have no idea what these are. Here's the background - I have one section of yard that contains the remnants of a wildflower plot. Also, in this section, I let any flower that wishes to naturalize itself into the yard do so. It's an area full of shasta daisies, rudbeckia, galliardia, echinacea, fleabane (I do pull that) and more. I spend most of the year mowing around these flowers, then try to cut everything back in the fall went they're done blooming. It's usually very pretty, if a little untidy.

But it appears that all these composites have been up to some indiscreet love-making. And in the front yard too! Imagine!

The plant in the photo is the largest clump, but there are at least two dozen others. Here's a closeup:
I'm going to call it the black-and-blue-eyeball flower! What happened to petals?? Petals are the pretty part, and they're sorely missing from these plants. My brother figures that Darwin's theory will take over here, because no self-respecting bee is going to be attracted to such an ugly thing, without the allure of colorful petals. So he thinks they'll all just die away. I'm not so sure. Here's one more look:It's really too bad, because the plant itself is tall and sturdy. But I think I'll be pulling them all out before they can set seed. I've got enough gardening challenges as it is!

Of course, Rusty blames it all on the government!

Monday, July 21, 2008

I am in Charge Here

What do you mean, you can't see the tv? What tv? Look at me....I am in control....and I'm not moving until I get some catnip....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Little Diversion

Real blog content will resume shortly. In the meantime...

My Linguistic Profile:

50% General American English

20% Upper Midwestern

15% Yankee

5% Dixie

5% Midwestern

I guess I'm just average, and true to my locale. However, some of the questions didn't have the exact answer I would have picked, so maybe the test needs a little refinement.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You've Got Scarf!

I guess when you have a blog and a digital camera, you get a little carried away. You become an amateur photographer whether you want to or not! My digital camera is pretty simple, and very outdated compared to what’s out there today. But it was one of the smallest ones going when I bought it, and my biggest need at that time was taking photos for ebay. I like the fact that I can fit it into a plastic traveling soap holder. Other than that, it’s nothing fancy.

But now that I’m trying to take more appealing photos for Etsy and Ravelry, I’m playing around with composition a little more. Not too much – I still just lay a lot of items out on the carpet and call it good. But yesterday I had the whim to get creative, and this is the result. I like this photo. It’s cheery.

I like the scarf too. I bought three balls of Twilleys Freedom Spirit last summer without a project in mind. I just liked the yarn. It sat on a bookcase in the hallway for most of the year. Through the usefulness of Ravelry, I found out that I could make this scarf and it would show off the yarn very nicely.

I don’t always wear scarves in the winter, but I think I’ll wear this one. It’s cozy, and again, I’m drawn to the colors. The yarn was loosely spun, so I’m not sure it would hold up for a harder-wearing item. It would have made a nice felted something, but maybe then the colors would have gotten too muddy. This will do.

Of course, it will be months before scarf season comes around. Until then, happy knitting!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I realized, looking back at past blog entries, that I’ve left some writing undone. I’ve written about some projects here on the blog, then finished them on Ravelry. There aren’t too many people reading this, but the few who do probably think I never finish anything!

So here are some updates…

The Blue Tank Top: is finished, but the armholes are way too deep for me to wear comfortably. So I either have to A: shorten the straps, B: pick up and fill in the armholes, or C: never wear it outside the house. Right now, I’m leaning toward C. The Blue Shawl: is finished. I was able to needle felt the hole that Rusty made in it well enough that it’s not too noticeable. However – I HATE WEARING IT!!! It’s like torture. I put it on one chilly Sunday morning, and I actually had to force myself to wear it for two hours. Here’s why: 1. It wouldn’t stay closed across my chest, until I pinned it. This looked stupid because I had to pin it in several places, or it kept gaping open. 2. It wasn’t long enough to completely cover my arms, so my forearms were colder than my upper arms, even though I had a long-sleeved turtleneck on. 3. It got into everything! I couldn’t reach over the stove without holding it back so it wouldn’t touch a burner or drag in the soup. I just kept thinking: I’d rather have a sweater. Sweaters would solve all these problems. Sweaters are so modern compared to this archaic thing! So I may just let Rusty have it for a cat blanket after all. I know there are different types of shawls out there, and I might try a Faroese shawl or Pi shawl next, but this triangle shawl is just not for me.
The Olympic Sweater: hasn’t been touched except to take that photo. Something must be done about this!

And the cats!
Lilly: is much better, although she is started to sneeze and chuffle again somewhat. At least the goopy eye cleared up nicely. See how pretty? Rusty: is fine now, although we went through some intestinal problems this past winter.

Rollie: My good cat, who never gets sick, did the unthinkable, and GOT SICK. He’s being treated for an inflamed bladder, which is either from trauma or food. And I’m watching the others to make sure they aren’t headed in the same direction.

That's all for now - hopefully I can keep the blog up to date with what's going on, although summer activities are numerous. And I've noticed that not too many people are even reading this, so maybe it's all for naught. However, I've been thinking about having one of those contest giveaways to shamelessly lure people to this site. Just for fun. More to follow!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Spinning My Wheel...

This is my spinning wheel. It’s an Ashford Traveler, which I bought as a kit, almost 20 years ago, and put together by myself. It’s been very neglected and was in a wretched state just a few short weeks ago. But when I found out the batch of sheep’s wool was headed my way, I pulled the wheel out of the corner, cleaned off the dust and cobwebs, tightened up all the joints, made a new drive band, and gave it a whirl.

Here’s a tidbit – Did you know wool that stays on the bobbin for five years loses all of its elasticity? Yep, it surely does. I was working with a very nice wool/silk blend when I stopped spinning five years ago. I have one good skein, that’s all. What was left on the bobbin was rubbish, but I didn’t find that out until I spun some more, and tried plying new with old. What a mess. I pulled off all the old stuff, and started over, spinning up the rest of the roving.

Here’s another tidbit. If you stop spinning for five years, you pretty much become a beginner all over again! At least, the yarn I’ve spun looks like a beginner made it. All thick and thin, over-spun and under-spun. Part of it might be that my wheel still needs some adjustment, but a big part of it is me. I need a remedial class. So I pulled out some sturdy roving, and I’m trying to re-learn proper drafting, and just working toward making a balanced yarn, even if it turns out bulkier for now.

It’s a long road back, but I hope that I can come up with a decent looking yarn by the end of summer. Then maybe I can plunge into some of the new sheep’s wool that will be waiting for me!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

When Life Gives You Wool...

…Make Yarn! A co-worker who lives in Southeastern Minnesota has these three sheep, and last winter she offered me the wool when it came time to shear them. It’s been years and years since I’ve handled raw wool, and then I only played with it a little bit. In fact, it made me realize that it’s been five years since I’ve even done any spinning! Too long, that’s for sure.

The sheep were sheared in May, and suddenly I had several sacks of raw wool to deal with. I called another friend for help, as she used to raise sheep and could at least give me some advice on skirting, and preparation, etc.

We spent a lovely spring evening skirting through the first two bags of wool, removing burrs and manure tags, sticks and straw. I have since skirted one more bag, and have three left to do.

This leaves me with a large pile of nice creamy wool, and that wonderful fresh sheep smell. There’s nothing like it! The sheep turned out to be a Corriedale cross, and since this is their first shearing this is truly “virgin wool”. Most of it is in very good condition, but the one bag I sorted through on my own was full of second cuts (short clippings). It almost made me cry, because it was such lovely clean wool, but chopped to bits. I did save a pillowcase full, and will see if I can use it for stuffing. The next step in the process will be washing the wool, but I’m saving that to do all at once. I’m planning on sending the washed wool to Blackberry Ridge in Mt. Horeb to be carded into roving. The big question is, should I dye some first, before it’s carded, or wait and try to make some hand-painted roving? I might try both, if there’s enough.

All this activity is reinforcing my recent revelation that good fiber craft can and should be very intensive. The past few years, I’ve done so many “quick and easy” projects. Portable, no-fuss projects. That’s ok, but it’s really satisfying to sink my teeth into a time-consuming, mind-challenging project that throws up challenges from start to finish. And I’m up for the challenge!

Monday, June 09, 2008

I'm in Love...

…with my latest knitting project, that is. I wouldn’t actually say I was in a slump lately, but I was becoming increasing frustrated with my knitting, and not really having any fun. Well, all it took to change that was to read a few blogs! This one in particular. It got me to thinking (always a good thing). I have, in the past, designed a sweater or two. And a few pairs of socks, and hats, mittens, etc. I’ve learned plenty of technique at Knitting Camp, and Stitches, and Midwest Masters. But lately, I haven’t been applying much of it. I needed a new stimulus, a challenge, to learn, and think, and be creative again.

So I took the plunge, and started designing a new sweater for myself. From scratch. I started with creating a stitch pattern that pleased me. Then I thought about it. What did I want to create? Usually I plunge headlong into a project, telling myself I’ll figure out the details later. I didn’t want to do that this time around. I wanted to have a plan. I worked on the development of the sweater long before I cast on, even for the swatch. While I was knitting the swatch, I read Barbara Walker’s “Knitting From the Top”, because I decided I wanted to make a top down v-neck. Now, I made one once before, following a vintage Spinnerin pattern. But this time I wanted to work completely on my own. So I read. And thought. And read some more. Barbara’s book is great, but wordy. Not a bad thing, but how many knitting books do you see that are almost all text these days? Not too many. Usually there are plenty of photos, diagrams, and charts. Not this book. I started thinking about it as a college textbook. Dry, but not really, because there is a wealth of information there. Just not very snazzy.

But I read, and I thought, and I knit. I used my swatch to make changes in the stitch pattern, the needle size, and type. When I was satisfied, I cast off, washed the swatch, smoothed it into shape, and measured. And observed. And thought some more. When I finally cast on for the actual sweater, it was amazing. I felt like I was soaring, because all that prep work had freed me to just run with it. Although, I will say, the initially set-up of the stitch pattern had me a little baffled at first, and I spent about an hour so deep in concentration that I actually shut out any other distractions. I haven’t done that in a long time! But it worked, and now I’m off and knitting away, fast approaching the spot where I join the v-neck and start working in the round. I realize that I could have steeked the v-neck, but I didn’t like the idea of cutting and sewing a steek on yarn with this much halo. That’s also the reason why this will be a pullover, and not a cardigan. This project has gotten me out of whatever kind of knitting doldrums I was in, and I’ve already been thinking ahead to other projects, both original designs and a few patterns I’ve been studying. It’s a great feeling to have the knitting brain in gear again!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Knitting...

To make these: a simple pair of slipper socks. I’ve been working away on several very interesting knitting projects lately. But after a weekend of rummage sale treasure hunting, I had to stop and whip up this quick project. In one of the “free” boxes I found a very crudely crocheted scarf. Obviously a beginner’s project, obviously acrylic yarn. But I figured the next stop for it was the trash, so I pulled it out and added to my haul. I’m sorry that I didn’t take a “before” picture, but just imagine wide stripes of purple and gold in wobbly double crochet. On Saturday afternoon I took the scarf apart, and wound the yarn into balls. It was clear there wasn’t enough for a big project, so I decided to make my standard slipper socks. I added a strand on coned yarn that was black, with slubs of color, including gold, hot pink, purple, blue and green. Adding an extra strand of yarn seems to help unify and spruce up any “leftovers” type project.

I finished the first slipper on Saturday evening, and then made the next one on Sunday, in time to toss in the washer with the laundry. All in all, I’m very pleased with the result. The speckled strand does help pull the project together. For acrylic yarn, the feel is ok, not too stiff. I used up about 90% of the yarn from the scarf. The rest went into the bag for Goodwill. I’ll get some good use out of these, saved some yarn from the trash, and all for zero dollars. Serendipity!

Note: This entry was originally written at the end of April, but I way behind in updating the blog! More to follow!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Give Me Strength...

I am trying, with great difficulty these days, to focus on my current knitting projects, and not start anything new. I have way too many irons in the fire as it is. Ravelry is a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because it is keeping my unfinished projects in the limelight – there can be no avoiding them when I look at my page. That’s good, because it’s making me focus on finishing a few less-than-interesting projects which I’m sure I would have squirreled away and forgotten about.

One such project is the Shapely Tank. I’m not so enamored of the yarn, now that I’m knitting with it. It’s Sedona, a mercerized cotton from Webs, and while I’m sure I’ll love it for weaving, it doesn’t feel so nice for hand knitting. It feels heavy, and even kind of rough. Also, the pattern, even though it incorporates short rows, and shaping, is still plain old stockinette, and knit flat to boot, which is becoming a snooze. So I’m trying to finish this one as quickly as I can, and move on to something more interesting. The curse of Ravelry, of course, is seeing all the other projects that folks are working on, and getting over-inspired, which makes me want to cast on for at least three or four new projects every day. I really want to do more color work. And cables. And make sweaters for me, instead of just socks, and hats, and such. The last sweater I made for myself is now too big, so I was only able to wear it around the house this winter. It also pilled rather badly, which surprised me, considering it was a fairly nice wool from a Wisconsin supplier.

I did unearth a sweater project that I started during the Salt Lake City Olympics, circa 2002. I always wanted to make a Dale of Norway sweater, but a few attempts made me realize that I didn’t want to follow their patterns with more than two colors in a row, or make the boxy, drop shoulder shaping. So I was making up my own version of an Olympic Sweater. The color pattern is based on a sweater from the Winter 97/98 issue of Vogue Knitting. I’m changing the shaping though among other things, like side seams that disguised any jogging, slip-stitch selvedge, and more. I was really enjoying the knitting, but for some reason I shoved the project into an upstairs closet, and completely forgot about it. When I pulled it out last week, I was surprised to see how far I’d gotten, and wondered what I was going to do next. The yarn felt lovely, and inviting. It is also from Webs, a wool yarn called Greenwich, from the Spinrite Mills. I put the tote with the sweater project back in the living room, and as soon as I finish the Shapely Tank, I’m going to pull it out and see if I can remember what the plan was. Or make a new plan, because it’s not that far along.

One lesson that I may have finally learned is to think carefully before starting a new project, about the reasons for doing it in the first place. Maybe that will help me have the right balance of mindless projects vs. challenging projects, take-along projects vs. less-portable projects, and above all, projects with a purpose, instead of “just cuz”. It’s certainly a good goal to work toward.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My New Toy

Isn't it cute? Finally, an MP3 player I can handle! I tried an I-pod shuffle a few years ago, but I couldn't get it to work. I didn't want to fiddle with I-tunes, and all that business. All I wanted was to be able to copy the mp3 music and podcast files I already had on my computer to a player.

Also, since I've been suffering from tinnitus for the past year, I really didn't like the idea of earbuds or any other kind of headphones. And all the speaker accessories that come with MP3 players seem awkard and bulky and not very portable.

But here it is, a little Sansa, about the size of a salt shaker, with a speaker in the top. Perfect. For ages 8 and up, which seems to be just about my speed. I was able to copy a hunk of Knitpicks podcasts within 2 minutes of opening the package, and yesterday I added some music from Jonathan Coulton. Works great. The only tiny drawback is that I can't fast forward in the same mp3 file, so if I turn off a podcast in the middle, I have to start from the beginning again. Not a big deal, though, really.

The price was pretty reasonable too. I purchased it from Best Buy, because I had some Reward Zone vouchers to use up. I had to order it on-line, because they didn't carry it in the local store. Cost with shipping, before the discount was less than $50. It comes in other colors, but I thought the pink was sweet.

So now I can listen to podcasts in bed without having to lug the laptop in the bed with me. Or take it downstairs while I'm on the treadmill. Hooray!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bunny Update

I've receieved a request to share my circular version of the lop-eared bunny pattern that appeared in the March 2008 issue of Creative Knitting. I'm not going to recreate the pattern here, because that would probably be closing in on copyright infringement. But I will share my notes on the adapation. So if you have the original pattern, you should be able to use my notes to work the pattern circularly.

I cast on the required number of stitches, and divided them on double pointed needles. I joined and knit row 1 according to the pattern. All the even numbered rows were plain knit. So I worked the pattern as written through Row 29, as written. NOTE: There are two edge stitches included in the flat version, to aid in sewing up. I left them in, so the back (or front, it's up to you, has two more stitches. Not a problem, just be aware of it.

Row 31 is dividing for the body. After slipping the required number of stitches to a holder for the arm, I cast on 2 stitches and then knit the next section of body stitches. Same then for the arm on the other side. This puts the seam, or beginning of round at the center back. I then worked the body rounds.

At this point, I left the body, and put the stitches for one of the arms on double points, attached yarn, and worked the arm rounds. On the first round, I picked up two stitches in the base of the two stitches I cast on when I joined the body. I knit and shaped the arms, pulling the yarn tail through the last remaining stitches to gather and close. After doing this, I stuffed the head, then both of the arms, and most of the body.
Back to the body. Remember, there are two more stitches on the body. Divide the body stitches in half, right side and left, and put one half the stitches on double points. Then work the first leg, casting on two stitches to join. Pull the yarn tail through at the end, again to gather the leg shut. Stuff this leg now. Then, put the remaining stitches on double points for the other leg, and join, picking up two stitches in the cast on stitches at the crotch.

I made sure I had long ends of yarn when joining yarns for arms and legs, and used these to snug together any gaps caused by the picked up stitches and joining. The ears were knit exactly as the pattern calls for. The only other change I made was to use a blunt needle and sew a running stitch around the neck, and pull it tight, knot, and work the ends in the help give the neck and head a little more definition.

I hope these notes help anyone who would like to knit these bunnies in the round. It was not too akward knitting on partially stuffed pieces, but then again, maybe I'm used to it, because I do it quite often.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cabin Fever Causes Feline Fury

This actually happened last week, but I didn't get a chance to take a photo until yesterday...picture wavy flashback lines, and read on...

There we were last night, having a peaceful dinner. I was on the sofa, with Rollie on one side and Lily on the other, and Rusty across from us, cuddled up on my shawl-in-progress. Everything seemed serene. About an hour later, I was going around the house watering plants, and when I passed by the shawl again, I noticed that it had a huge hole TORN into it, no doubt by feline teeth and claws. This is the Wool Peddler’s Shawl from “Folk Shawls”, and I was in the home stretch of completing it. I’m using a luscious wool/angora blend yarn from Kimmet Croft Fibers. And now – RUINED. The hole is back almost at the beginning, in the garter stitch section.

Needless to say, I was livid. I couldn’t believe my beloved Rusty would behave this way, but this is actually the second piece of knitting he’s attacked in the past week. The other was an acrylic sweater, and I saw him go after it, so I was able to grab it away with only a small, repairable snag. But this – three or four strands of yarn, mangled, leaving a big gaping whole in several rows of garter stitch. I almost cried. I felt like crying, but I think I was too shocked.
Why? Was it because Rollie had booted him off the sofa so he could sit next to me? Did he think I wasn’t paying him enough attention? Was he just bored; sick and tired of winter? He remains silent on the issue. And could he have chosen the worn out acrylic/mohair slippers that I was re-soling, that were right next to the shawl? No. Had to be something pristine. Something lovely. He did come to me later, and put his paws on my lap, but I wasn’t sure he was asking forgiveness. I think it was a threat. “Pay attention to me, or I’ll do it again!”

But I do pay attention. I follow him around like a servant, turning on taps when he’s thirsty, brushing his coat, giving him treats at the same designated times each evening.


I’ve been thinking all evening about how to repair the shawl. I’ve been to Sally Melville’s class on knitting fixes, but this vexes me. The garter stitch winds back and forth in such a way that I don’t think I can figure out how to re-weave it. And to do even try, I’d have to commit to making the hole even bigger. And weave in several ends, which I’ve been avoiding throughout, by carefully spit-splicing the new yarn when needed.

I thought about cutting into the knitting and getting rid of the offending section, and trying to knit back to the beginning. There’d be glitches at the edges, and at the center increase, and there would be stitches going in the wrong direction. I was so proud of the smooth, slip stitch edge I was adding to this shawl.

I think, what I will do, even though it is probably the laziest, most noticeable option, is try to needlefelt the loose ends together and close the hole. I will lay some strands of yarn underneath, and try and fuse everything back together. It will show, but hopefully not so much after a good washing. Since the shawl is for me, and was going to be a utilitarian piece, it won’t matter as much. Maybe once it’s done, I will look at it as a little touch of character. Maybe. Not today though. Today, I’m still a little peeved at the big orange guy. And he's not talking...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

It's True What They Say About Bunnies...

...they multiply! This was a fun project, and I haven't put all the yarn away, so I might even get a few more made before Easter. I had to search upstairs and down to find some ribbon for their neckwear, which was a painful reminder that I need to organize my supplies. It's almost warm enough now to go back upstairs and start working. I don't heat my upstairs in the winter, and the side attic up there makes great cold storage. But now that the days are getting longer, I can get back up there and start putting the place in order.

I'm not sure I'm ready for Daylight Savings though, which started today. What's the point of having more light in the evening? It's still way too cold and snowy to do anything outside. I'd rather have the extra light in the morning, when I'm trying to get up and get ready for work. I'd just switched back to morning showers, instead of evening ones. And I'd finally started waking up before the alarm clock. I wish the government would leave my circadian rhythyms alone. Tomorrow is going to be rough...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

If Only They Could Speak...

Pretty little Lilly has been dealing with a runny eye for over a week now. She has such pretty blue eyes, it was so sad to see her looking so miserable. I had been giving her lysine for a kitty cold, but she wasn’t getting any better. I took her to the vet on Monday, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see my regular vet, who is very thorough. At least I did find out that she didn’t have a viral infection.

It seems that she may have been having problems with the dust from the kitty litter. Even I was noticing how dusty it was, but I didn’t think this was anything new. Lilly has been a chronic sneezer since I got her in 2006. I didn’t associate it with the litter box, because she didn’t sneeze while she was using it; she sneezes mostly when waking up from naps.

I’ve been noticing how dusty the whole litter box area is, and the other cats have been sneezing more as well. So I’m trying out some alternative litters, and hopefully this will help everybody, and keep the basement cleaner too! The first litter I’m trying is ground corn, and I hope it works out, because apparently I can then just buy a type of chicken feed at the feed store and use that, and it will be less expensive. I don’t know why I didn’t try it before. I never liked the idea of the bentonite clay, but because it was the most prevalent product out there, I used it. The corn litter will be able to be composted, so that’s another plus. At least 50% of the garbage in one of my typical garbage bags is clumps from the litter box, so that will mean less trash generated.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I don’t think my cats will be sending me roses like they did last year. However, they are still my sweethearts, and I’ll give them some extra snuggling, and if they could just refrain from throwing up or knocking anything over for a day, that will be gift enough for me!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Quick Like a Bunny...

When I saw this pattern in the latest issue of Creative Knitting, I wanted to start it right away, but I held back, and worked on some of the other knitting I already had started. But Easter will be here before you know it, so on Saturday I pulled out some pink yarn and cast on. The magazine pattern was written for flat knitting, but after about six rows I ripped out and started over, converting the pattern to circular knitting. It wasn’t too difficult to figure out, and I started stuffing as I went along, once the arms were finished. By Sunday afternoon the first bunny was finished, and I started a second one during the Superbowl. Yes, I did watch most of it, although I took a break during the middle quarters to bake some muffins and do the dishes.

I may alter the bunny pattern in the future, but I wanted to see how the first one worked up. I like that the pattern went by rows, rather than inch measurements. That way I can use any size yarn and needles, and still come out with the same proportions. The first bunny was knit in a sport weight yarn, the second one is in a worsted weight, so it will be bigger. After that I’m making one in fingering weight. I guess it’s true about bunnies multiplying!

Finally, Rusty the pseudo-groundhog, did not see his shadow on Saturday, but he predicts that Spring will get here when it gets here, and he’s not going out again until the snow disappears, thank you very much.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Have a Super Weekend

Ok, now that these guys are not going to the Superbowl, I may or may not watch the big game on Sunday night. I certainly am not planning my weekend around it. But I probably will be plopped on the couch Sunday night watching something, and working on my knitting. That’s because I just bought a new television today, and managed to get it all hooked up and running, and it’s great!

The blog was on vacation back in July, which is when my former television blew up. No kidding – a horrible buzzing, then a pop, then that acrid electrical smoke – it was nasty. And scary. After the frantic pulling of plugs and cables, I was left with a useless plastic and glass hulk. Thinking that maybe it just needed to cool off, I plugged it in an hour later – nope, same horrible buzz and smoke. The next Saturday, before hauling it to the recycling center, I tried one more time, with the same result. That TV was toast.

Luckily for me, my boss was about to sell a similar size set in her rummage sale, so she let me buy it for $25.00. It’s been working all right, but the whole episode gave me a push to jump on the flat screen bandwagon, and I’ve spent the last few months researching brands, sizes, and other features.

One thing I might watch this weekend is the DVD set of Knitting Around videos by Elizabeth Zimmermann and Meg Swansen. I had the set on VHS tape, but upgraded last week when I needed to order some needles from Knitpicks. I listened to a little bit of Elizabeth reading her “Digressions” and watching the family photos. They used dozens more photos than in the book, and I think it was wonderful of Meg to share so much of her family’s personal history with us.

On the knitting front, I was able to finish this pink baby sweater knit from Bernat Handicrafter Cotton. I had used this type of cotton yarn exclusively for washcloths, but wanted to try it in a small garment. I think it turned out rather well. I don’t think I’d like it for a sweater for me though. It might end up too heavy, and then sag. I’ve only knit a few sweaters from cotton yarn. Bernat Gloucester and Bernat Cassino were successes in their day. My sister still wears the cabled sweater I made from Cassino. I’ve lost track of the Gloucester sweater. I think it’s in the dresser in the spare room waiting for me to shrink back into it. But it was very comfy. I’m working on a Shapely Tank using Sedona Cotton from Webs, and at this point, it does not have the nicest feel to it. It’s a mercerized cotton, and I’m hoping that once I wash it, the feel of it might improve. Finally, Rusty is going to play Groundhog tomorrow and venture outside to see if he sees his shadow or not. He doesn’t know it yet, but I’ve decided that for him. Of the three cats, he’s the one who most closely resembles a groundhog, at least in his size and ambling gait!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cabin Fever

Can you have cabin fever if you like your cabin? Or, more specifically, your 1950 modified Cape Cod? I love winter, and this winter has been just exceptional in the amount and duration of snowfall, and now the frigid temps. I really can’t complain. But as I sit pondering this latest blog entry, I fear it will turn into a “blah” entry. Suddenly, there is nothing new or interesting going on to take note of.

But the weekend is here, and that’s something to look forward to. So here is my weekend “To Do” list:

1. List more items on Ebay – This will include knitting books and yarn, so if you’re interested, by sure and check it out!
2. List more items on Etsy – This will also include knitting books and yarn, so check that out too!
3. Update the blog – ok, did that!
4. Play on Ravelry – only a little, because it’s way too easy to lose yourself for hours if you’re not careful.
5. Clean house – just a little, because it’s way too easy to lose yourself…oh wait, that would never happen…
6. Sort out the desk and get the tax paperwork together – the sooner the better.
7. KNIT, KNIT, KNIT – ok, finally, the best part! I’m looking forward to time on the sofa, getting caught up with my Netflix movies, and finishing a project or two.

And, because this really would be a blah entry without photos, here are a couple of a recent FO. I knit this baby cardigan over the Christmas holiday. It’s knit from the top down, with a couple of hearts for cuteness. I like top-down knitting, and have already started another cardigan using some Bernat Handicrafter Cotton. I wanted to try using this yarn for something other than washcloths. So far, so good. The body of the cardi and one sleeve are finished, and if I can force myself, I’ll get the second sleeve done this weekend, and finish it off.
Finally, Rusty says “I didn’t see any mention of me on your ‘To Do’ list. I think number one should be “Brush Rusty until he falls asleep in utter contentment, with a belly full of cat treats!”