Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Forcing a Truce

One of the challenges of living in a multiple cat household, is that, like humans, cats don’t necessarily get along with each other. Sure, some cats prefer to be alone, but I mean beyond that. Some cats actually like being in a home with other cats, but for some reason that escapes human understanding, do not get along with cat X. And this has been the case for us.

Eclair is a pistol. She is extraordinarily smart, displays a deeper affection for her humans than most people can fathom (including cat owners), is quick to anger, and is vulnerable to stress-induced illness. She was the runt of her litter though you’d never know it by looking at her now. She strikes fear into the heart of our Tom with a mere glance.

T-Bone is a sweet, timid cat. She is low energy, and spends most of her days dozing in a cat bed, and limits her range to one floor of our home.

So what’s the problem, you ask? Eclair has displayed unreasonable and repeated aggression toward T-Bone from their first days together. T-Bone is scared to death of Eclair (for good reason), and I’m pretty sure that’s the main reason that she stays upstairs 24/7. Eclair has determined that there are select locations that T-Bone can rest, but if she finds her on the stairs, or roaming the floor, then there is hell to pay and it is very noisy and exciting. Most times T-Bone avoids her, but there are times that she will fight back. Who could blame her?

At some point I realized two things: that Eclair’s aggression was fear-based, and that our presence seemed to embolden her to lash out even though we do our best to break it up.

So the puzzle has been how to convince Eclair that nothing bad will happen around T-Bone? That she just needs to leave T-Bone alone and the two can live quiet lives sharing the same four walls? I have tried rewarding good behavior. I have tried punishment. I have even followed a pet guide’s advice and intermingled their scents with damp towels. Nothing worked. Then Sunday I did the unthinkable. I put them in a small room alone together and let them work it out.

We have one room in our home that is essentially a single-story tower. It has 1 door, 4 windows, 8 walls, and a window seat that wraps around the room. The floor is so small that an average-sized adult could not lay down. In fact, it is only large enough for one chair, and it’s got to be a darn narrow chair to fit through the door. Near Christmas this becomes the home of the Christmas tree. In temperate weather the room is entirely a cat sleeping/birdwatching room. On Sunday I set up a food and water bowl, tossed in the two cats, and closed the door. Oh, I stayed nearby, sure. And since Eclair is a screamer I knew that I could intervene the second trouble brewed.

An hour into this experiment I spied at them through a window. T-Bone was resting on a doll bed I’ve converted into a cat bed, while Eclair was camped out in the chair watching her every move.

An hour later I checked again, and found Eclair was fast asleep with her back to T-Bone.

In the third hour it was still quiet, so I entered and gave them both treats. Eclair finally called at the door about half an hour later, so I let her out and helped T-Bone to the stairs so she could run to safety.

The second day I tried the same thing. Eclair went to sleep immediately, and I found T-Bone roaming the floor. I have heard a few hisses in the general household, but they don’t have nearly the enthusiasm that they used to have.

I’ll keep this up for the next few weeks, shutting them in confinement for 3-4 hours alone. It will be interesting to see if, after all this time and everything I’ve tried if the solution is really this simple. The beauty of it is that progress occurs two ways: through cognitive learning (oh, I have been confined with the Stinky One for multiple hours over two weeks and nothing has happened. Maybe she’s not so scary after all.), and association (every time I’m confined with the Stinky One I fall asleep. Now I get sleepy every time I see my nap buddy out and about.)

On the auto front, I heard back from the dealership yesterday. The problem is a bad transistor. In fact, it looks like they didn’t have to remove the whole dash to get to it. The bad news is that they don’t have that rare part in stock so they had to order it, and I had to turn the loaner back in. So now I’m driving a car with no fan. That means no fun when it’s 90, and it also means inconvenience when it’s cool and rainy because the windshield fogs up and I have no way to clear it. Fingers crossed that the part will be in this week and I can drive safely and comfortably again soon. I would expect this from an older model car, but this car is three! Sheez!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Finished Object Alert: The Busan Fish Market Shawl

The shawl has a bit of weight to it, but it’s also silky and drapey, so it’s like wearing a hug. I love it! But now I need to keep my eyes peeled for a good pin to secure it at the shoulder. I used one of my birch cable needles for this pic, so that worked, but isn’t at all ideal.

Yesterday I swung through Lawrence for my knit group and to look for a few design books at the Yarn Barn. I am increasingly driven to knit things that don’t have an existing pattern, and I’m hoping they’ll help me with a sweater I have in mind for the alpaca I bought in Wisconsin a few weeks ago, and in redrafting a pattern for the Chilean Dreams tam I need to frog because it’s a bit too big. We’ll see.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Welcome to Car Bonkers Theme Day

The day started out innocently enough. The car started as it always does. We drove to work as we always do. I worked for a few hours then drove to the post office at 10. That’s when things went bonkers.

It’s high summer. Sure, it’s not as hot as it could be, but low 90s in high humidity is plenty hot. So you can imagine my disappointment when I turned on the fan for the a/c and nothing came out. Not even a puff. Not even a noise. Silence and stillness, that’s what I had.

Mike was with me, and we tried everything to get it to work. We turned the a/c off, on, changed the blower settings...anything and everything that came to mind. Nothing.

As soon as I returned to the office I called the dealership to ask if perhaps they could squeeze me in that day. It’s Friday, after all, and with a trip to Lawrence planned for tomorrow (potentially in the rain) I wasn’t thrilled about a no-air weekend. (Yes, it was probably just a blown fuse, but by the time I got home to test out that theory it would have been too late to call for back-up if my theory were wrong.)

They said yes, if I could get there right away, so I huffed down the four blocks to where I parked my vehicle, and zoomed to the dealership where I was amazed and somewhat distressed to see another vehicle there with three mechanics working feverishly to release the latch on the gas cap door. I asked the service manager about it, and was told that the man had been in a long line of cars north of town to take advantage of a “gas sale,” and when he finally arrived at the pump discovered the door wouldn’t release. Aaaaaggghhh! I immediately pictured myself on some long, lonely highway almost out of gas and discovering the same had happened to me. He assured me that this almost never happens, and because it hadn’t happened to me I called Mike to let him know about it (and get a little laugh at someone else’s expense - oops!) while I waited for a shuttle driver to take me back to work.

When he answered the phone I heard loud noises in the background. “Hang on a minute,” Mike said. “I’m trying to get a picture of the car that’s on fire.”

Yep, right outside our office window a newer model minivan had caught fire and was honking itself madly in a desperate cry for help. I told the shuttle driver to drop me off where the fire engines were parked, and by the time I arrived the vehicle was silent and coated in dry extinguisher chemicals. Ironically, the tow truck that made the call had the most amazing custom flame detailing coming off the front grill that I’ve seen outside of the best episodes of “Overhauled.”

At 3:30 I still hadn’t heard a peep about my car, so I began making inquiries.

No, they hadn’t started working on it.

Yes, they’d started, but was his paperwork right when it said my complaint was the fan wasn’t working? Because it’s blowing fine now. He’d be happy to fix it for you if it were broken, but it’s not. - - now I’m steeling myself for the walk-of-shame to the cashier’s desk to pay $45 dollars for the pleasure of making an ass of myself.

(5 minutes later)
I’ve got good news and bad news. He started to move the car and it stopped working.
HA! I said. I TOLD you it wasn’t working!

Now it’s after 4 on Friday and they think it’s a pin that’s behind the dash and requires the removal of the dash to expose...so I now have a loaner vehicle to get me through the next “X” days with the words “Loaner vehicle courtesy of [name of dealership, phone number of dealership] in large decal letters on the rear window of a gold Civic.

At least it has air!

In knitting news, I have a helpful suggestion: read the instructions. I hadn’t bothered to read them again before I knit the first tab of the Ragna sweater because I had the chart and I remembered I was to work the first 16 rows of said chart. But if I had let my eyes wander to the next line (and same sentence) I would have seen the words “for about 6 inches” Ooops! That’s not just 1 chart repeat but more like 2!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Applying Good Ol’ Horse Sense to Knit Night

I’ve always heard when you fall off a horse that you should get back on right away. If not, the dread grows over time.

I considered this as I checked the calendar and saw that the local S&B meeting was fast approaching. Maybe, just maybe, it was a bad night. Maybe I was tired. Maybe they were odd from Harry Potter excitement. Maybe, just maybe. And I knew that if I didn’t go this week, that I would probably never attend a local S&B again. Lawrence, yes. Local no.

So despite the fact that my eyes were overtired from working all day (and with a tight deadline should have been working well into the night), and I suffered from a slight stomach bug (probably due to hay fever but the result is the same, really), and I felt like I was heading to a weekly staff meeting that even pastries and coffee cannot make palatable, I loaded up my latest project (Ragna) and headed out.

I got off to a rocky start. The person-without-an-indoor-voice (aka head honcho) was so busy barking orders at the coffee bar manager and reminiscing about the Harry Potter midnight release party from her overstuffed leather perch that the barista failed to notice me standing patiently in line to inquire on the whereabouts of the cream. Finally noticed, and creamed coffee in-hand, I sat down with my chart and ball of New England Highland wool and chanted inwardly “Ignore, knit. Ignore, knit. Ignore, knit.”

More knitters filtered in. Many more, in fact, than were at least week’s session. And nice people. Welcoming people. Interested and interesting people.

I only had about four rows done when I sat down, but had the first of my four tabs for the back hem complete by the evening’s end:

The pattern calls for four of these tabs for the back, then they are slid onto a common needle and the rest of the pattern is worked in one piece. Despite how complicated it looks (and the chart is much worse) it was actually a pretty straightforward knit.

The only downside of the evening: When I finished describing this process to one of the other knitters, she pointed to “head honcho” and exclaimed that she could help me figure out how to do it.

No, I’m pretty certain that I can figure that out on my own.

A sweet moment came when a brand-new knitter showed up with a sack of fiber, a #13 circular still springy from the package, and a lot of questions about how to start her baby blanket. Apparently I’m the only one who knew about and have used the trick of straightening a circular by inserting the cord* into boiling water... With the help of the barista I was able to de-sproing her circ in a matter of minutes.

*I only do this with plastic cords - certainly no Addis or anything metallic.

And Jules, Gaia posted some more helpful sock links on my last post, so if you haven’t already, you might want to check those out. Thanks Gaia!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Jules, I am absolutely no expert when it comes to socks. But I have made one pair, and had a fairly good experience with it, so here are a few of the resources I used:

Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
The front matter has some excellent information on gussets, joining new yarn, dealing with a heel flap, heel shaping, etc. I chose to make the Madder Ribbed Sock under Simple Ribbed Socks. I personally wish I had used two circulars from the beginning (and ideally a smooth needle like an Addi turbo) but all in all it wasn’t a bad experience.

Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch
Again, excellent information on sock anatomy and techniques.

Socks, a Spin-Off special publication by Rita Buchanan and Deborah Robson
Not a booklet for beginners. Though it has a few simple patterns in it, it gives no overall instruction in sock construction, and leads with an entrelac sock, which would scare any novice sock knitter away in a flash.

Something to consider is the whole toe-up vs top-down decision. Having only made a top-down sock, I am limited in my advice. I have heard experienced sock-makers say they prefer toe-up because they can be assured the don’t run out of yarn. The ribbing for the sock is completed with the yarn runs out, in other words, rather than the more awkward position of running out 1" before completing the toe. I have also heard experienced sock-makers complain that they never get the toe decreases right so they prefer to do theirs toe-up. On the other hand, I have heard toe-uppers complain that they have trouble finding a suitable bind-off at the cuff that is both elastic but not too giving. While I have not made a pair of toe-up socks, I have done a turkish cast-on for the snatchels, and that is one method for creating a toe. It was remarkably easy to create, though confusing at first glance. One must trust the needles and trust the wool. Two online resources for toe-up include Tiptop toes in Knitty, and the linked Wendy's toe-up sock pattern.

Seems that there are a myriad of ways to make a toe, and a myriad of ways to make the heel, and ultimately it is a matter of experience and finding the method that feels best on the foot. Once enough experienced is gained, I gather it is fairly easy to cherry pick the best of patterns that are out there, adapting each to suit.

I finally finished the last Harry Potter book this morning in lieu of doing actual work because I had under 200 pages to go, and well, who can concentrate when so much is happening?

I began to cut out the messenger bag on Sunday afternoon, but quickly discovered it was going to require more brain cells and lots more patience than I had available at that time. Imagine for a moment a set of 7 pattern pieces. Most have the top marked to aid in proper layout. Many have to be set on the fold so the cut piece is twice as wide as the pattern piece. All say that they should be cut X times for the outer fabric, X times for the interfacing, and X times for the lining. And several (this is what really got me) have dashed lines within the main outline that I am supposed to fold under for either the lining, or interfacing, or outer fabric, so the piece I cut is only a portion of the whole pattern piece. One even has an extension pattern that I’m supposed to tape on to the main pattern piece. It’s all very odd. I did manage to get the outer fabric cut, though. The rest may have to wait until the weekend. I am hoping that the actual construction will be much more systematic.

Tonight, however, will be “mini-me time” again. With Mike off for approximately 4 hours of reading solitude (we’ve been time-sharing the book) and only last night’s Hell’s Kitchen on tape, I expect I’ll be catching up on podcasts and knitting. Might even finally finish that darn tension square for the Viking sweater.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Falling off the Crafting Wagon

Friday, July 20, 2007: I am not, not I tell you, going to start another project until I get the shawl and/or tatted ornaments finished.

Saturday, July 21, 2007: Should I make the monkey’s jacket out of royal blue wool felt, or another color? What would be the best lining for the messenger bag? And, should I buy the length of circ I think I’ll need for the viking sweater now while I’m in town, or wait until I swatch when I know for certain that a 5mm is the right one for gauge?

Clearly, I fell off the crafting wagon yesterday.

Item 1: Sydney, a cloth grinder monkey built over an armature, designed by Karen Shifton in 2001.

Item 2: High Street Messenger Bag by Amy Butler

Item 3: Ragna, a medieval-inspired pullover by Elsebeth Lavold from Viking Patterns for Knitting

Both cloth patterns I purchased at Quiltin Chicks Quilt Shop in Cortez, Colorado about a month ago, and I’ve been looking for a good time to buy the supplies and begin fabrication. Yesterday was it.

I arrived in Lawrence a few hours before a garden knitting party and hit Hancocks which was having a good sale on decorator fabric remnants, and I where also had a coupon for 40% off a single item of regularly-priced fabric burning a hole in my pocket. I came away with all the fabric needed for bag including outer fabric, lining, and interfacing, as well as one of the three zippers needed, heavy stencil plastic, and one spool of thread; and all four fabrics called for in the monkey pattern, for about $35. I have no projected deadline for either of these projects, but plan to begin assembly this week and tackle it all in small bites. There are a few specialty tools called for in the monkey pattern such as a hemostat, but I should be able to make a fair amount of progress before I hit that wall, and perhaps I’ll discover I didn’t need it after all.

I’ve had the supplies to make Ragna for about a year, and have been aching to give it a go. It will be a lovely warm sweater to wear in the darkest parts of winter, or even to wear out in more moderate temps instead of a coat. And the scratchy New England Highland wool will be a nice contrast and welcome change to knit up after the silky ribbon I’m using in the Busan Fish Market Shawl.

Is the Busan Fish Market Shawl complete? No, but I finished the 2nd of three skeins this morning.

Are the ornaments complete? No, but I have switched to the white thread with a brighter metallic floss, and this white thread (a size 20 as opposed to the 30 I was using in ecru) is tatting up much better. It creates a much firmer fabric than the 30 even though a the thickness difference between the two threads isn’t noticeable at a glance. That’s not in and of itself a rational reason to slow progress so I can begin new things, but ration really doesn’t have a role here, does it?

And it really doesn’t because my editor called last week with a new job and a tight deadline,

and I can’t knit/sew or tat while reading Harry Potter.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Tatting Tally

5 spherical ornaments completed

1 spherical ornament in-process

7 spherical ornaments to go.

And that’s just the spheres. I also have about a half dozen bells to make after that.


We stayed up ’til midnight last night to buy the last Harry Potter book. It’s not that I planned on reading it at midnight. No, I went straight to bed after returning from the store. But as I saw it, this will likely be the last book in my lifetime that will a) have a 12:01 release and b) that I would be the least bit tempted to stay up for. So I decided to add it to my life experience list and off we went.

I could have gone to Barnes & Noble. I drove straight past Hastings that was having a huge party (and the parking lot had more cars in it than I’ve ever seen) and instead drove to Dillons grocery store. I figured that I wasn’t interested in the party aspect of the night. I just wanted the book. And besides, the crowds would likely be lighter at Dillons, and I’d be able to stock up on a few groceries while I was at it. Yes, yes. Life experience and all that. But I was almost out of cottage cheese and had a hankerin’ for pot pies.

Strolled in at 11:45. About 20-30 customers were in line. They had a teenager dressed as Harry Potter entertaining the crowd... a drawing for a gift basket... not sure what all else because I shot past the line to shop. The store was turning off the overhead lights as we neared midnight. At 12:00 they announced over the intercom for the manager to bring the books forward. And away they went.

Of course the lines at the checkout were horrendous and everybody had at least one HP book in their hands. Except one couple that was in line in front of me and were there for the sole purpose of buying groceries. She was a mess. Her hair was mussed, she looked tired, and she had a black eye. He looked like a day laborer. He was wearing a sweatshirt with the sleeves ripped off, exposing a tattoo of a spiderweb on his left bicep. Their cart contained two tubs of whipped butter, five packages of flank steak, and one infant that appeared to be less than a month old. The father smiled as he saw all the people in line with nothing but a book in their hands. He asked the checker and sacker about it and was told that it was the new Harry Potter book, and it was the final one in the series. They explained that it was not the same book as the movie that had just come out.

Then he asked, and I kid you not, “Where’d you get all the books?”
(pregnant pause) “From our distributor.”
“That’s awesome! Why aren’t there more people here?”
(pregnant pause) “Because everyone is selling them.”

They paid with a Vision Card (the form of food stamps) and he was still chuckling as they walked out the doors.

Jules, congrats on your upcoming first sock! I have only done one in my life so I’m no expert. But I found it a bit easier to do on 2 circs rather than the dpns. If you do this, don’t get roped into buying Crystal Palace needles like I was. The connection point isn’t smooth so the yarn catches all the time. I’ve got a few resources I’ll post in the next couple of days.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The World’s Most Tender Roast

I hadn’t planned on having roast in July. July is hot. July is waaaaay to hot to serve meals containing large chunks of red meat. But then I found the new mashed sweet potato product at the grocery store, and well, I thought roast would be the perfect companion, so roast in July it was.

With a slight cool front moving through the area, I decided that yesterday was the best day for that meal. Came home at lunch to set the roast in marinade, and found I had stored the meat in the freezer. Frozen solid.

Now there was absolutely no way that it would be thawed by the time dinner rolled around if I put it in the refrigerator, and there was absolutely no way I was going to set it on the counter for four hours. And experience tells me that putting it in the microwave to thaw will only toughen it. So what to do?

I put the “ice roast” in a large rectangular casserole dish (9x12? maybe a little smaller). I added 1/2 cup red wine, 1 beef bullion cube, and a cup of water. Then I sprinkled the top of the meat with Worcestershire sauce before covering the pan with foil. Popped it in the oven at 285°. The time was 1:15. When I strolled in the door at 5:15 the house was filled with the lovely aroma of cooked roast. It was not overdone. It was not underdone. It was not tough. No, it was fall-off-the-fork tender. And Del-ICIOUS!!

As for the potatoes, I think the manufacturer made them a bit too sweet, but it was a nice change.

Gaia, I definitely think you should add your name to the Ravelry queue. It’s still in beta so they are adding names slowly, but each week that passes the developers make the site richer and more user-friendly. The most recent addition is a groups feature. Groups are knitters or crocheters who have special interests. Some are by region, such as Toronto-area knitters. Some are by subject, such as knitters who like to work with vintage patterns. I spotted one for knitters who have only made scarves but are ready to try something more challenging. There is something for everyone. And it’s a great way to see how others fared with patterns and/or yarn substitutions.

Jules, I’m afraid it would be a bit of a drive.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Chemistry of Knit

For over two years I have been searching for a local stitch & bitch. I would love to hang out with people who love the knitting craft, and we can ooo and ahh over yarn choices, colorways, and patterns. I would love to spend time with people who want to learn are not afraid to try new techniques.

My mother took up knitting at the same time I did and completely independently, but all she is interested in making are garter stitch prayer shawls. That’s fine, but it is not a symbiotic fiber relationship.

My mother-in-law was going to teach me some advanced techniques, but I learned after I made my third project (a felted bulletin board with iCord border) that she had tried to help a neighbor-lady follow iCord instructions, but my MIL couldn’t figure it out so the neighbor ended up driving to Lawrence for help and it turned out that the problem was my MIL didn’t know that the iCord should fold back on itself. I looked at my bulletin board (with its folded-over iCord border), looked at her, and realized that I had already shot past her in skills.

Third project. So there you go.

Granted, I haven’t looked as long and hard as I could have, but I checked forums and did google searches, and well, I came up empty. That was until a week ago.

Last week while I was in Door County I checked the online edition of my hometown paper and found a notice for an S&B group that meets once a week at a local bookstore. I wasted no time putting it on my calendar.

Only a day or so later I received an invitation through Ravelry to join an S&B that meets in a town 30 minutes away. They meet twice a month at a coffee shop. Their date came around first, and even though I hadn’t been home for even 24 hours, I hit the road.

I had a FABULOUS time! I’m normally a quiet person, but I just came off a trip that requires making chitty-chat with complete strangers so it was easy. And it was so welcome to sit around a table as this knitter made a sock, and that knitter made E. Zimmerman’s baby surprise jacket, and another knitter did a shadow knitting cardigan... Ah... It was like slipping on a favorite pair of jeans. It felt like home.

Tonight I have just returned from the more local S&B that meets every week. Everyone was very nice and very welcoming. Yet it didn’t feel right. They are all lovely people, but I felt like a fifth wheel.

So do I drive 30 minutes to a neighboring town once every two weeks to attend one S&B, or do I drive fifteen minutes across town every week to attend the other? Or do I do both?

But the decision has really been made for me because my plans to relocate make the other stitch group (in my future city) the natural choice.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Recent Fictional Character Sightings

I have seen some amazing things, lately. Last week I met a woman who was the most diminutive creature I have ever seen. Not a Little Person, but diminutive. I’m guessing she was 4' something and less than 100 pounds. Her feet were about the size of an average 5th grader, and she dressed like Twiggy in her day. She was perfectly put together from head to toe.

On that same trip I met a woman who may have been the largest woman I’ve ever met in person - not that there’s anything wrong with that. But the contrast between the two ladies was absolutely shocking. To illustrate the contract, I am certain that if Person A were to stand sideways and attempt to bend over the waist of Person B, she would be far from able to touch her toes.

Both were damaged in one way or another. Both were attempting to disappear - one through over-eating, the other through near-starvation.

Then there was today. It was a simple visit to the grocery store. But during that simple visit I saw three amazing people.

The first was a witch. Yes, I said witch. She was instantly recognizable even though I’d never seen her before. She wore her salt and pepper hair loose and past her shoulders, and was dressed in a purple crushed velvet floor-length robe. She bore a large pendant around her neck that may have been a combination crescent moon and pentagram, though I didn’t get a good look.

The second I’m pretty certain was one of the weathermen from a local affiliate. He is highly enthusiastic but very elfish. And the kind of elfish that never seems to age. I think he could play the part of Pinocchio when he turns 65 and it would still be believable. I had thought it was the TV playing tricks, but no, he really is elfish.

And the third was a gentleman a local DJ has dubbed Mr. Bojangles. Bojangles is a “lamp dancer,” I guess you could say. I see him often downtown, doing some of the most amazing hip gyrations and dancing to a beat that no one else seems to hear. He does all of this with a pedestal-style table lamp wrapped in a red, white and blue bandanna. I know it’s a lamp because it still has its bulb. Trust me when I say that it can be an awkward thing waiting for the crossing light to change while Mr Bojangles is on the opposite corner shaking his booty at me.

It doesn’t matter how many years I’ve walked this earth, or how much I believe I understand about humans, I am still constantly surprised.
A Confession

I’m getting tired of my projects. The Busan Fish Market Shawl is beautiful and easy, yes, but it is essentially a garter stitch shawl. (yawn)

My tatted ornaments... Wow! Why did I buy so many plastic clamshells? When I’m cranking I can only finish one every other day. At this rate I’ll still be tatting ornaments in late August.

I would love to cast on for my viking sweater. It’ll take me at least three months of constant work to complete it, and I’ll need to start as soon as possible if there’s any hope of finishing in time to wear it this winter.

With travel over for the season, I should probably pull my quilts out of storage and get them finished up. Flannel funk has no hope of being on the bed by the first snow unless I can get started on it. But work on both of these will delay completion of the shawl and ornaments even more.

So in the meantime I’ve set the ornaments out on several shelves with the “done” on one shelf, the “tatting done but nothing else” on another, and the “to be done” on a third. I hope that seeing the numbers on each shelf shift will inspire me to soldier on. But so far it ain’t working.

And, of course, I guarantee that this coming weekend I’ll accomplish zero in the craft world. Harry Potter, you know.

So perhaps you would like to see what I accomplished last week in the welding world?

It’s my first attempt at welding. I call the piece “Abstract with Crap Welds.”

Despite all the “helpful” suggestions I have received, this is destined to 1) hang on a wall inside and 2) horizontally much as you see it here. Some may believe it would look great hanging vertically, or upside down, but no, this is the orientation I intended.

Tonight is my final night of “me time.” In honor of this I purchased a personal size Turtle sundae at the store this afternoon to be consumed either during The Closer if a new one is on, or Hell’s Kitchen.

Oh, and I have just informed my husband via email that we are about to adopt a new cat.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Fiber Goodness

Door County, WI was a fanTAStic trip! Loved doing the Segway Tour of Peninsula State Park. Loved learning to weld at Hands On Art Studio. Wish I could have spent more time there, gotta tell ya! But you don’t want to hear about that, so let’s get onto something more important: fiber.

I had to the chance to visit Sievers School of Fiber Arts on Washington Island. OMG - that place is evil! Evil in its goodness, that is. I came away with so many ideas... and a burning desire to attend a class... and spend lots and lots of money on supplies...

Well that will have to wait until another day, but I did buy 9 oz of copper Alpaca roving. Jeez I’d better learn to spin and spin quick!

My last day I had the chance to do a bit of shopping. Didn’t get much. I saved myself for my last stop: the Apple Hollow Farm where I bought three skeins of charcoal alpaca and a skein of trekking.

Only have two full days of “Me Time” left.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Another Tease

Wow! I saw the most incredible fiber academy today! I saw some new and amazing techniques, and walked away with about 10 oz of copper Alpaca roving and dreams of felting wool on silk, felting marbles, and knitting with steel.

Details will have to wait for a few more days (I know. I’m slightly evil.) because I’ve only got a few minutes before I have to be in the lobby and ready to go to dinner.

In the meantime, here’s a glimpse of what I saw today:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This Post is a Cherry

Busy, busy, busy. The highlights will have to wait until the weekend. Lots of cherries, but I have found no fiber shops yet.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Finished Object

The snatchel, v. 2 is in/out/DONE!

I had to go to Hobby Lobby to buy more fun fur in the requested shade of brown, a short zipper, and some pink stuff for the tassels. When I did so, I discovered that the yarn section of the store had been decimated. I estimate their inventory is down by at least a third of what it had been November ’05 when I bought Lion Brand Wool-Ease to make an Aran Shrug.

I asked the clerk in the fabric section about it, and she was reluctant to tell me that they’d gotten rid of a rack (even though I could see a big gap in the floor where one had been) stating that they are merely moving them down and didn’t finish the job because a payroll situation came up and the manager has to wait for the new quarter to hire the necessary help. But, you can’t move racks down unless you’ve gotten rid of one, right? Because I know there hadn’t been a gap at the end that would make that comment make sense.

She did, however, admit that sales of knitting supplies had been down for the last few years. She tried to tell me that it was now all about crochet, but excuse me, crochet uses basically the same fibers that they now have cut about about 1/3rd.

Then she told me that Hobby Lobby is moving more toward their own yarn brands such as Yarn Bee. Sure enough, I saw only a few of the old standards on the shelves. Lion Brand? If there was a single skein I hadn’t noticed it. That’s how little there must have been.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not crying about this. I only use those yarns when I’m doing low-budget projects. Sweaters, and items that are really important to me get the full LYS treatment. Still, I’m glad Michaels and Jo-Anns is around when I do have a fun fur need.

Tomorrow I fly to Wisconsin. I’ll try to post a few pics along the way, and I hope to get two more ornaments tatted before I return on Friday.

Now I’m off to the Post Office to ship this out. I suspect the recipient has forgotten all about the snatchel discussion. Boy will she be surprised!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Another Finished Object-let

An object-let, in case you are about to rush to your dictionary (it’s not there) is a single component of much larger project. In this case I am referring to this:

...the second of the multitude of tatted Christmas ornaments to be hot glued and set out to cool.

While not perfect, it is not quite as cat yak-y as the first, and I am now more of an expert on cat yak (see July 4 post) so I know what I’m talking about.

I am also cruising toward completion of snatchel v. 2.

You probably missed that in my “On the Needles” list, didn’t you? My host for my Mesa Verde trip fell in love with the idea of it, so I’m sending it as a thank you. I have most of the fallopian tube handle to complete, the drawstring...a few body parts I am uncomfortable spelling out for you here and now...along with the all-important bead. I still had a few iron on transfers of the fetus illustration left, so I ironed those onto muslin this afternoon. Tomorrow after I drop “the man” off at the Kansas City airport I plan to swing through Lawrence to buy a zipper for the coin purse (I have a coupon) and brown fun fur which was her color of choice. That was a very odd whispered conversation in the exhibit area of The Anasazi Heritage Center, but I felt it was important to ask.

Warning: Me Time part I begins in 14 hours.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Quest for the Golden Poo

(Warning - this post is not for the squeamish)

Missing: Three plies metallic DMC embroidery floss approximately 4 1/3 yards in length.
Time of Theft: Between noon Wednesday and 5 a.m. Thursday.
Prime Suspects:
Caper, a three-year-old altered tabby male - a taste for Barnes & Noble sacks.

, a four-year-old altered calico female - zero tolerance noise policy.

T-Bone, a four-year-old altered blue dilute tortie - favorite activity is sleeping.

String is lethal. If an animal ingests it the string can obstruct the digestive tract, cutting off blood flow and potentially killing the animal in question. It is a cardinal rule of cat ownership that one should be extra vigilant and keep all string up and out of harm’s way. I even used to work with a man whose cat was killed after it ate a length of string. So at 5 a.m. Thursday when I realized the plies were missing...well...let’s just say I became very concerned. I spent the rest of the morning organizing my work area in the hope that the string had simply fallen, or been covered by a mini-avalanche of yarn and pattern books. But no.

Once I knew that the thread was gone, I looked to the cats with deep suspicion. But what to do? None showed any signs of distress, and the thread - though metallic - has no metal in it so an X-ray would be pointless. I resigned myself to waiting and watching. Like a hawk.

So let’s go back in time to the post of June 28. T-Bone smelled, so in the early evening I gave her a bath. Here is a pic to refresh your memory:

Approximately 30 minutes after that photo was taken, T-Bone began acting upset. She circled the room back-asswards and before I could react, she projectile vomited in corner A, and corner A, then ran to corner B and vomited (projectile again), then corner C where she puked and puked and... As the aroma of Pantene and stomach acid hung in the air, I began running for the paper towels, but glanced back at her just in time to see she had a wad of metallic thread hanging from her mouth that she was in the process of re-ingesting. I postponed the paper towels errand and leapt for T-Bone and, setting all thoughts of disgust to the back of my mind, I grabbed the wad of thread. One end was still down her digestive tract, but I pulled ever so gently. There was some resistance, but with just a little tug it came loose.

Question A was now solved. The thread thief had been identified. So was this all of it, or had she choked up only a partial batch?

I was discussing the situation with Michael in-depth the next morning (Friday) when T-Bone, who had been dozing in an open window, stood up, put her paws in the screen, and projectile vomited once again out the window and onto the deck.

The subsequent X-rays showed no obvious signs of blockage, though her intestines sounded angry and the lining appeared thick. Knowing what thread she had consumed, the vet and I pulled apart the “recycled” bits and I was disappointed to see that many strands had been chewed into bits, so there was no way to tell absolutely that nothing more was inside. But I learned (and this should be filed under the “good to know” category) that while projectile vomiting in human children is relatively common, projectile vomiting in animals often indicates intestinal blockage. There is a difference between upchucking and the projectile kind. I will refrain from spelling it out, but trust me, you’ll know it if you ever see it.

So what to do?

I confined her, and spent the rest of Friday on projectile vomit and golden poo watch. Yes, that was my weekend, searching the litter pan on the hour for poo of any shape or composition. I was finally rewarded for all my hard work on Monday morning with the discovery of a golden poo. Two days later we have confirmed continued exiting of all poos - metallic and otherwise - so I think we’re out of the woods.

Besides causing me great distress, this incident has just ramped up the cost of my tatted Christmas ornaments by $167 in vet visit costs.

All I can say is I hope they are worth it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Good Luck with That, Buddy

Once the rains passed, the fireworks came out. Non-stop. I listen to the series of blasts in quick succession and I think, “hope that was worth the $30 that just went up in smoke.”

It used to be that no fireworks were allowed within the city limits, but about five years ago the city not only began allowing some fireworks in town, but also the sale of fireworks. Stands started popping up all over town. If there was an empty lot or a large parking lot in a neighborhood, then that is where a large tent appears two weeks preceding the July 4 holiday. Sales begin about a week before. It now makes it uber-convenient to buy more when celebrants run out.

Sunday evening I hauled the trash barrel to the end of the drive. The tang of gunpowder was heavy in the air. I guy stopped his car in the middle of the street and called out to me.

“What?” I said.
He repeated it, but again it was drowned out by blasts.
“Have you seen two wiener dogs?”

I hadn’t. Given the current noise level in the neighborhood it is no surprise that they took off. As for when he might find them? I wager they’ll be hiding until July 5.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Finished Object

The third and final Moss Grid Hand Towel from Mason-Dixon is off the needles. WOO-HOOOO! And once again, I did not have enough fiber to do the 12th repeat that the pattern called for. Since I’m using the exact fiber they specified and it is the hank is the exact length they said it would be, I’m wondering if when they wrote the pattern, spelled out the how to do the first repeat, and then said to do the above 11 more times, if they really meant it should be done a total of 11 times.

And with the third towel done, that means I have this:

We are in countdown mode at our home. Tomorrow is the last trash day before our trips, and the garden really needs a good weeding. I have had it on my calendar to do for the last three days, but we are on the edge of a stationary rain system that has caused severe flooding in parts of southeastern Kansas. While the soaking rain will make weeding an easy task, I need it to stop for a few hours because I simply refuse to garden in a rainstorm even if the garden has turned into a jungle. That’s just me.

Fortunately I had a bit of company this morning.