Friday, March 31, 2006

Birthday Girls

It's a beautiful spring day, my cold is gone, and the forsythia and maple trees are in bloom. And....
The girls are two years old today!!

When they came to us -- just for a short recovery/fostering period -- they were so small, so sick. Especially Sophie, who had lost a pound of weight off of her 3-pound frame. At four months of age, she was the size of a kitten half her age. I took them home from the shelter to nurse them back to health. But they wormed their way into our hearts -- and gave me ringworm in the process. They never went back. And now they're beautiful, happy, active 2 -year olds. And we couldn't imagine our life without them. The "boys" are very fond of them too, and still try (and succeed) in grooming them . Who said boys aren't nurturers!

Here's a pic of when the girls had just been let out of their "sick room." They both look much better than three weeks prior, when I'd first brought them home. Hard to believe, huh? Dot's nose (she's the one with the dot on her nose) is so congested that she's breathing with her mouth open. And Sophie (toward the left) has so much tearing that there's a wet track running down the side of her nose.


Here's a pic of them now. Such beautiful girls!

Unfortunately, the idyllic sisterly love thing just can't last....after all, they ARE sisters!


Sunday, March 19, 2006

What Am I Doing Now?

Although I still sound more like Kermit the Frog than Judy the Human, I am feeling much better. I am really behind on listening to the growing numbers of knitting podcasts but did manage to finish listening to Memoirs of a Geisha on audio. What a wonderful book and a great narrator -- I love for audiobooks!

In the knitting arena, I'm working on two things. The "macro" project is called the "Big Easy Jacket." It's a pattern by Melissa Leapman, but it's not published as far as I know. How did I get it? Well, I was visiting my in-laws in Omaha, Nebraska. My DMIL (dear Mother-in-Law) took me to String of Purls, a wonderful yarn shop there. As I walked in, I saw this jacket sample hanging up and I tried it on; it looked and felt great, although the color wasn't my fave. In talking to the salespeople, I found out that the jacket was going to be the project in their next class called "Beyond Scarves." If I bought the yarn recommended (Noro Iro) required for the class project, then I could get the pattern free! I couldn't even BUY the pattern because it evidently was created specifically for this class. I looked at the other yarn colorways and fell in love with the one (#21) that had the deep purples, blues, teals in it. I impulsively said that I would make the jacket using this colorway, and the sales staff immediately started pulling skein after skein off the shelf.

"Umm, how many skeins will I need?" I asked, my mouth starting to go dry. Eleven to be on the safe side, they'd said, adding that I could return any unused skeins if I had any left over. Okay, now how to ask the next question, since there was no price tag on the skein I was holding..... I think the space-time continuum halted while the cashier looked up the price.

"Nineteen ninety-five." PER SKEIN. I don't think that I've spent that much on an article of clothing, let alone on just the yarn for an article of clothing. This is knitting in the "big leagues"! I swallowed hard, handed over my credit card and managed to smile as the cashier commented on how pretty the yarn was.

Well, once I got over the sticker shock and the fear of ruining the yarn, I cast on and have knit about 12 inches so far. It IS beautiful yarn: 75% wool and 25% silk. Here's a pic of the overall knitting -- it's all done in garter stitch. So simple! Here's a better idea of the color of the yarn. See how rich the colors are? They're even better up close and personal. And there are these tiny threads of silk that hang loose around the yarn twist. I'm knitting this in one piece from the bottom up to the sleeves. Then I'll work each side separately. There will be a shawl-type collar and, I think, Dolman sleeves. Stay tuned for more updates......

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cold-Hazed Retrospective

Well, I have a super-duper cold, and can't talk, feel crummy, and have no "gumption" to do anything. So I'm just going to post pics of some finished items that I've knit over the past year or so. I think I left off with my iPod cozy, and I do promise to get the pattern up on the blog in the near future. I'm still trying to figure out the "hosting" and "shared server" stuff. Total technogeek stuff. If I've left out any info that you'd like about the projects, just leave a comment and I'll try to fill in the gaps.

Okay, here goes: I have to classify myself as a sock-aholic. I love knitting them and I love the challenge of engineering the sock to fit perfectly. I guess my DB Lou isn't the only family member with "engineering genes." My first socks were bed socks. I'll have to scratch up a pic of these. They're on my feet now, but alas, you can't see them.

My second and first REAL pair was made with Opal Lollipop sock yarn. Since I was still trying to figure out how to make them fit ME, each sock are slightly different sizes.

The second sock is an improvement on the first, being a little snugger.

My third pair of socks I knit for my DH Mike.

I'm proud of the fact that they fit him perfectly. Of course I kept making him try them on as I knit them toe-up, using the Crazy Toes and Heels method in Mary Ann Beattie's excellent book of the same name.

My fourth pair was for me; it started out as another Opal yarn sock but as you can see, something was quite wrong with the skein. Notice the color differences? I had divided the one skein in half, rewinding each half into a 50 gm ball. Imagine my surprise when these otherwise-exactly-matched socks became fraternal twins instead of identical twins! I didn't have the heart to continue them, even though, individually, I love the colors of this Elements colorway.

So, I started a new pair of socks using the much cheaper, but wonderfully consistent Magic Stripes sock yarn by Lion Brand. These are in the purple colorway. Although the yarn is thicker than Opal, (this is more of a sport weight, I guess), these socks fit me extremely well because, again, I used the CT&H method of making socks toe-up to fit.

I then made these house socks for my DS, Cece, and I put puff paint designs on the bottom to make them non-slip on wood flooring. I made these using two strands of worsted weight yarn held together. The yarns were different textures though. Both were Lion Brand but one was Woolease and the other was Jiffy, a mohair-look and softer yarn. I used the pattern called "Joan's Socks" on the Lion Brand website.

On the non-sock front, I've made these other items:

An alpaca scarf for DH. He's lost a phenomenal amount of weight on Weight Watcher's. I'm so proud of him. Why he's like a stick!

Mittens for me. This was the first "real" item that I'd knitted. But I found that I don't like wearing mittens. I keep setting off the alarm on my car trying to push the unlock and lock buttons on the remote. Comfortable mittens though!

This sweater is from a book in The Weekend Crafter series called Knitting. I'd knitted it for me, but it looked horrible on me. I offered it to my DS but it looked just as horrible on her. I offered it to my Mom, whom I thought wouldn't want it. She tried it on and it looked great on her petite little figure. And now she wears it and gets a lot of compliments! I used an up-close picture of the knitted fabric of this sweater for the background of my blog title header. The yarn I'd used was Lion Brand Homespun in the "Waterfall" colorway. This is a nice book, by the way, with many patterns that are both simple and adaptable, covering the gamut of beginner to intermediate skills. The patterns are designed to be completed "sort of" in a weekend.

I hope you've enjoyed this trip down the not-so-distant Memory Lane. I'm feeling rather accomplished at the moment....and very tired. So I think I'll go nap and hope this cold goes away soon. My cats don't know what to make of my voice, or lack of one. By the way, here's a picture that shows you how I've managed to sneak in this knitting without losing my yarn to the felines. I knit when they are occupied by other things. There's nothing like bird feeders to provide cats with hours of viewing entertainment.

From left to right: Dot, Leo, Mickey, and Sophie.Our motto is :Look But Don't Touch.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Technical Difficulties

Well, try as I might, I could not get my pictures posted in the correct spots and still allow for more text. So I'm continuing my Olympic post-games wrap-up. Just in case you don't believe that I earned a gold medal, here it is:

I won it for Team Wales.

Not only that, but I was one of the few lucky Olympic knitatheletes who won a prize! I am going to receive two 100 gm skeins of luscious hand-painted sock yarn, courtesy of Yarnharlot Stephanie McPhee -- who did the drawing -- and Fyberspates--who donated the prize! As soon as I get the lovelies, I'll post a picture. Imagine, out of over 4,000 competitors, I won, I won!!

Now, back to the analysis: Below are pictures of my Fiber Trends Felted Clogs. I took a class at my lys (local yarn store) and had knitted up the first slipper. See how it compares in size to my sport sock!

During the Olympic trials, I knitted up the second and felted them.The reason that I didn't medal: I still need to refelt them to get them a little smaller to fit me.

Also, I planned to sew on a suede sole in order to prevent killing myself on our slippery wooden floors. All in all, I think they turned out pretty well, and am happy with them. It's funny how different the felting experience is depending on the type of wool you use. For the sock tote, I used Lopi; I have quite a furry, hairy tote on my hands. The felted clogs, however, were made with Cascade 220 and they are as smooth as can be.

Now to the "Olympic Moment" of Family Crisis, starring Poor Leo!

Leo, our amazingly flexible Gumby-like cat, got into linen closet in the few seconds I'd opened the door to put something away. He managed to climb up to the second shelf -- while the door was closed -- to take a nap. I found him a few hours later when I went back into the linen closet. He got up, stretched and as I lifted him down, I noticed that he had some gummy stuff on his tail. But before I could wash it off, he'd scampered off to climb the kitchen cabinets.

I figured that I'd clean him off later. Bad decision on my part!

While climbing the linen closet shelves, he managed to spray some laundry prewash on his tail fur, and when he groomed himself, he licked some of it off and it burned his tongue. I sensed something was wrong when I found him sitting under the futon in the guestroom at bedtime, when he's usually camped out on the foot of my bed. He was still hiding under the futon the next morning. He was sitting all hunched up, drooling and holding his mouth "funny" -- best way I can describe it as there's no better "medical" term for it. I whisked him up into his carrier, called the hospital and away we went. He was on IV fluids, appetite stimulant and pain meds at the hospital. All the lab tests came back normal, thankfully.

He came home doped up on pain meds. To make matters worse, the two girl cats , Dot and Sophie, hissed and growled at him. He smelled different and acted different -- not the Leo they knew. It took a few days of nursing care to get him so that he could eat on his own without pain meds. The girls would still hiss at him, but their hearts weren't in it -- lackluster hissing at best.

On the fourth day after his "incident," we finally had the sense that all was going to be well. While watching TV in bed, both DH Mike and and I saw our snickerdoodle fluff -tiger flying straight up in the air! He'd decided to climb the bedroom door by jumping up to grab onto the clothes hung on the back of the door, then pulling himself up. But Leo didn't remember that his claws were clipped at the vet hospital. He slid back down and ran into the carrier as if to say, "I didn't do anything, honest!" Mike and I looked at each other and just broke out laughing. Here's a picture of a successful attempt:

A few minutes later, Mike commented to me that he didn't remember leaving two of his dresser drawers open. They were only open an inch or two. Yet, as we're looking over at the dresser, one of the drawers begins to move.... I went over and looked in, but couldn't see anything. I pulled the drawer out of the dresser and there was Leo, sitting BEHIND the drawer I'd pulled out-- in essence, he was sitting IN the drawer below. So Leo was bouncing back....and up....and in....

And I could get back to my Olympic trials. Instead of my Leo trials. Was this whole saga the reason behind my not finishing the scarf? To be honest, no. I guess I just wasn't ready for designing and implementing stage of knitting. When I figure out how to do more than add photographs, I'll put the "would have been" pattern up on the blog. Maybe someone else can make it work. Sigh.

So that's it for my Olympic foray. Although I must say that I've truly become an avid fan of curling in the "real" Olympics. It's a sport well-suited to the knitting viewer. Let's just say that the action is slow enough that I can make progress with my knitting and still keep up with the developments of the match play. Although all that yelling at a stone that's already on its way sliding down the ice -- well that can be a bit...disconcerting.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Post Games Analysis

No Olympic knitathlete memoir would be complete without a tally of wins/losses and a summary of lessons learned.

Okay, here are my wins/losses. Representing Team Wales:
Here is the felted tote before felting and after felting:

The before-felting size was 16.5 inches tall and 14 inches wide at the top. After felting it’s 10 inches high and 9.5 inches wide. Felting is magical!

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