Monday, October 31, 2011

C'est l'Hallowe'en

Unfortunately, I get home too late now to hand out candy (and Dave works even later), so it was an uneventfull All Hallow's Eve at Chez Wandering Cat.

So instead of monsters and mayhem, I decided to put in a movie and settled in for a quiet evening of knitting.

Miss Peno had other plans...
"You don't really want to knit... you want to pet me instead!"

So we compromised. I pet her in between stitches and still managed to get an FO

A modified pair of my Undine socks. Knit in Top Cat - colour is "Tapestry"

These socks have actually been kicking around since March. I got the first one done in three days, but didn't cast on for the second one until Knit Camp. Then it just kept getting set aside for other things.

I'm quite happy to have them off the needles.

And with that - I'll leave you with my favourite Hallowe'en song ever!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

All sewn up

The first baby cardi is together...It's still boring and gender neutral (I really had to push myself to work on it) but I'm hoping the required buttons and blanket stitch detail on the edges will dress it up a bit.

One version of the pattern is actually striped - and I think with the right colour combo, it could be a sophisticated little knit. Alas, I'm working with what I have, so boring blue flecks it is.

Now - I'm off to cast on for another one. I'm going through my patterns again, to see if I can find something just a little bit more exciting and stylish.

But first - some pieI made my very first lemon meringue pie today. And it tasted pretty darn good!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lucky girl

It's funny how much your life can change in a year.

This time last year I was stuck in a horrible job, wondering if I would ever be able to escape that particular circle of hell.

Fast forward 365 days, I have a job I enjoy and work with terrific people. I like the job so much, that not even an hour (or more) commute and frequent long hours can put a damper on my enthusiasm.

And how terrific are the people? Let me put it to you this way - when my cubicle mate went to San Francisco for a conference last week, she said she'd bring me back a souvenir.

I was expecting your typical tourist gift - teddy bear, key chain, post card... that kind of thing. But no... she brought me back shoes.

That's right... shoes. And not just any shoes...Killer shoes!

I think that girl deserves a pair of hand knit socks now - don't you?

In other lucky girl news, my Dad returned from the wilds of northern Ontario on the weekend. While he didn't manage to bring me any moose steaks, he did bring me a pair of little bears...I guess he needs socks too... or maybe a toque! I guess I better get the baby/Christmas stuff out of the way fast!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reality check

With less than 60 days to Christmas, I decided I better start getting organized. So on Monday, I sat down, wrote out a list of who I needed gifts for, and what I wanted those gifts to be.

Because of a tight budget (read $0) it was decided that this year, all my gifts will be handmade with materials I already have.

I'm a lucky girl in that respect. I have a multitude of talents (knitting, sewing, drawing, painting, photography etc.) and a studio filled with supplies that I've gathered over the years. I have everything I need... everything but time.

I try to knit every night, but realistically, most of my knitting is done on the weekends. And there only eight weekends left until Christmas. Fortunately, my Christmas list is not long - immediate family and a few close friends. And some will be getting artwork, or sewn projects, which are considerably quicker than knit gifts.

However, as you know, I also have three babies left to knit - all due before Christmas. For the sake of expediency, the Serenity blanket has been set aside, and will be gifted to a baby who's not due until March. All the pre-Christmas babies will be getting cardigans.

So, the Lore hoodie and Aeoloan have been set aside.

And the baby knits have begun...The pattern is Splash. A pattern from a Jaeger leaflet mom had in her vast pattern library (that was on the other side of the wool room, and wasn't in the photo - but it's two Ikea Billy bookcases full!). The yarn is Sirdar Snuggly DK (lifted from Mom's stash about a month ago - have I mentioned what a lucky daughter I am?).

Now a little side note - I completely respect the parents-to-be's decisions to keep the coming babies' genders a surprise - it's their baby and they have every right to - but as a knitter, it's a complete and utter annoyance. I have skipped over so many beautiful pattern because they were too "girly".

I'll admit it, I am totally biased when it comes to knitting for baby girls - I much prefer it over knitting for boys. I'd love to be knitting lacy cardis, flouncy pinafores and oh-so-adorable bonnets - instead, I spent hours looking for gender-neutral patterns that are just, well... boring to knit. I think I've just knit too many lace shawls - good ol' garter just doesn't compare any more.

But I've just got to suck it up - I can make the pattern fun with fabulous buttons. And button shopping will be my reward for plowing through a boring knit - the dangling carrot so to speak. I guess I better get back to it - those stitches aren't going to knit themselves!

Monday, October 24, 2011

So you really want to know what Mopar is all about?

I've had several comments asking about Mopar's unusual name, so I guess I better explain.

Mopar, as you know, is Dave's cat. Dave brought him home when he was a teenager. As mentioned on a number of occasions, one of Dave's hobbies is classic cars.

He has two. A '67 Pontiac Bonneville...
...and a '67 Dodge Charger - which sadly, I don't have a handy picture of. The Bonneville sees more use, but at heart, he considers himself a Dodge boy.

The Charger was a 15th birthday present from his step-father (who passed a few years later). It was a wreck, and Dave spent about a decade restoring it bit by bit (there's a rather amusing family story about him storing an exhaust system under his bed when he was 17).

Mopar is the name of Chrysler's (who owns the Dodge name) parts and service arm. To car enthusiasts like Dave, it's synonymous with performance parts, racing, and just generally driving really, really fast.
When Dave and I first started dating, I asked him why Mopar - I mean other than the obvious car-guy reason? His response:

"He's rear-wheel drive and he does burn-outs around corners."

Rear-wheel drive = declawed with only back claws
Burn-outs = squealing and sliding - like when a fast car peels out onto the highway.

Mopar has very floofy toes, so he doesn't get good traction on hardwood floors... he likes to yell when he goes around corners and it's a lot like a cat version of this:

Without the smoke (thank goodess!)

So - Mopar he was named, but we also refer to him as "The Par", ParPar, MoparKitty, Mr. Par, and "Cranky old man" (The last one is fairly new - mostly since he moved in and had to share Top Cat status with Los Trios Diablos)
He's a little too old to be much of a hot rod any more, but we love him still.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I have mentioned my best friend Samantha on the blog here before.

Sam and I have been friends since middle school. Scary to think... that was TWENTY FREAKING YEARS AGO.

But anyway, now we are all grown up, Sam is married to a ridiculously nice guy and has three ridiculously entertaining children. And, despite the fact that we live less than an hour away from each other, we only see each other a couple times a year.

Life just gets in the way sometimes. But we both know, if there's ever an emergency, the other is always ready, willing and able to help out.

This week's emergency? "Valerie - I need jewellry to go with my new dress for next weekend!!!!"

So anyway - it was a reason to go spend the afternoon with her... ....that ridiculously nice guy she married....(don't ask what he's doing to his face... you don't really want to know...)

....and her three ridiculously entertaining children....It was a great visit - and I think we need to come up with more "emergencies"

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Little bits

It's been a crazy week and I haven't had a whole lot of time to do anything exciting, so here's some random stuff to keep you entertained.

Random thing 1:
I've started a baby blanket

The blanket is Serenity. I actually tried to make this blanket a few years back, before I had much experience with shawls. I was using the written instructions, but wasn't following them well. That, coupled with the fact I was using cheap acrylic, the project was abandoned.

But, one of the babies from the recent boom is due in just 4 weeks. It's a "gender surprise" baby, so I thought a neutral blanket was the perfect choice. The pattern is the thing that makes it special.

Random thing 2:
Inspired by mom's recent clean-out of her wool room. I tackled my house today. It's amazing how much a clean house can lift your spirits.

Random thing 3:
I had a helper with the cleaning
Every time I turned around, he was underfoot. Upstairs, downstairs - he doesn't even mind the vacuum. The other three were all hiding in the bed.

Of course, all that following is tiring work - so he took a good long cat nap. And when I say long I mean it - he takes up the whole loveseat!

Random thing 4:

Mom's new sock machine has been busting a little bit of my stash, as well as hers. I gave her some Top Cat and some Alley Cat and she returned them as socks!

A pair for Daveand a pair for me!

Random thing 5:
Tomorrow I get to see my best friend - who I haven't seen in months. So - better blog post tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


It's always cool to see people knitting my designs. Lately there's been a rash of Elphaba WIPs on RavelryThese are just a few pics of recent ones. You can see all 72 pairs here. And maybe even make a pair yourself. The pattern is free!

Monday, October 17, 2011


It's hard to believe, but today marks nine whole years of togetherness for Dave and I!

It certainly doesn't feel like nine years... and next year - it's a whole decade. It must be love!

Sunday, October 16, 2011


It's that time of year again. The time when the leaves starts falling, dad heads way up north to kill something (preferably a moose) and Mom gets itching to accomplish things around the house.

Several years, she painted something while Dad was away. One year he came home to a cheery yellow kitchen, another year it was a violet bedroom, another year it was a light periwinkle kitchen (different house). Mom and I have talked for a few years about painting her bathroom, but we just haven't gotten to it. And this year - there was something far more important that needed attention.

Long-time readers will recall that I often refer to Mom as my LYS. That's because she litterally has one whole room devoted to yarn. Oh there's a guest bed in it, and some quilting stuff, but really it's all about the yarn.

But, over the past few months, it's gotten a little out of control. So much so, that it's a good thing she didn't have any guest - they would have been sleeping on the livingroom couch. Even the cats stopped sleeping in the bed.

What you can't see is behind that hamper and pile of boxes, are more boxes and tubs of yarn.... lots more!

It took us all afternoon, but we went through everything, resorted, reorganized and got it all put away.
Some got purged and will be going to one of the retirement homes in the area (a whole garbagebag full). Some got purged and will show up soon on her swap/detstash ravelry page - though not as much as I would like - there's a whole crate of Goth Socks - and several crates of Wollmeise that could go in my opinion. But I'm not saying too much, because about half-a-garbage-full got purged and sent home with me (including enough copper colour cotton to make a nice hoodie). And now you can see the floor and the cats (and guests) have their bed back!

That hamper on the floor is destined for her Circular Sock Machine, so it will get used up fairly quickly. And she's promised that many other skeins will too.

Oh ... and just incase you want to see just how much yarn she kept...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I finished up the Blackrose mitts for my coworker last night.
I gifted them to her today, and it was a good thing, our office is darn chilly. These were knit in Top Cat (colour is Slate). The skein was set aside to do the heel and toes on my Cheshire socks, but since I haven't gotten to them yet, and I won't need the whole skein, it was the perfect choice for these mitts.

I changed the thumb gusset on these, and had to size the pattern down considerably, but it all worked out well. I took my time on them, but if you count the actual hours I spent working on them, they are a really fast knit. And the result is fantastic - a pretty lace pattern, that's not too fancy - just enough to punch it up.

And since they are a gift, it's the perfect opportunity to mention our latest KAL - "It's all about the prrrrrrrrrrrresents!" over on Ravelry - go check it out. You must be a group member to participate.

As for other knitting. I've started my Lore hoodie and it's going swimmingly. After just a few hours, I already have six inches (and the body is done in one piece, so that's a considerable amount of knitting!)

And a few people asked about the lace shawl I flashed in my last post. As promised, I am knitting from my queue and I've started with Aeolian. I'm using Slinky Cat - but don't get too attached to the colour (as pretty as it is). It was a $@&%-up skein, and is full of red spots. I was hoping to be able to work around them, but as I was caking the yarn, it became apparent that there were just too many of them. Once the shawl is finished, it will be re-dyed a nice dark colour that will cover it's appalling case of chicken pox.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thankful - the knitting edition

Happy Thanksgiving to all - it was a nice warm day filled with turkey and stuffing and pie - what more can you ask for?

And here are just a few of the things I'm thankful for:1) The ability to make something that will bring a smile to the face of a co-worker who's been having a few rough days.

2) Lace and silk... need I say more?3) A bang-on swatch (and 3 stitches to the inch - can you say fast knit?)
4) Sleepy smiling cat faces! 'Nuff said!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It's an art - not a science

That's one of my favourite phrases when I'm talking about dying. And it's so true. You can step into the studio with a certain colourway in mind, but what comes out of the dye pot may be nowhere near it. It might be close, it might be better, or it might need a little (or a lot) of help.

No two skeins are exactly the same. This is not a game for perfectionists.

Case in point:

This morning I set out to dye 20 skeins (yeah - 20!) of yarn for Lore. I chose a lovely shade of brick brown to do a nice, rich semi-solid. Should be easy right?

It seemed like it - but the yarn threw me a bit of a curve ball. You see, different fibres take dyes differently - merino, falkland, BFL - they all love the dye and soak it right up, especially if they are superwash. (Non-superwash doesn't take dye nearly as well). With those fibres, it's easy to get nice rich colours.

Alpaca, cashmere, silk, and bamboo don't take the colour nearly as well. A bright colourway like Vampire's kiss on Jungle Cat will be much more muted and pink than it is on Alley Cat.

So, given that the yarn I was dying was non-superwash merino/alpaca/silk, I knew that wouldn't get the same cinnamon shade as I did on the Alley Cat I dyed 10 minutes earlier.

However, I didn't expect it to be quite so.... well.... barfy.The picture is actually pretty tame compared to what it really looked like. It was hideous. It was actually glowing - I kid you not. Like when the blonde girl in highschool tried to dye her hair auburn - I called it "atomic barf".

But that's the beauty of dying yarn. It's not over until the fat lady runs out of dye (and I have A LOT of dye!)

If there's one thing Mom and I have learned, it's the magic of overdying. There are four colours that work best for overdying, depending on you base colour - purple, dark blue, burgundy, and of course black.

You won't get a solid colour - your base colour will always peek through, but it can create some amazing effects.

For instance you can turn the above yarn into this:This yarn is gorgeous in person - shade of pink, copper, burgundy, and red. It's no where near what I was aiming for when I started dying - but I can't say I'm disappointed. I think I actually like it better than the colourway I had in my head.

So, once this is dry, I can cast on for Lore (probably Monday before turkey dinner!)

And, when I was mucking up yarn today, I was also dying some new Alley Cat Falkland (same great Alley Cat twist, with Falkland instead of Merino - two words - like buttah!) and, I was mucking about with a sock blank mom whipped up on her machine for me.
Is anyone else seen the potential for self-striped shawls??

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Conquering the queue

I just realized, Fable is done, I don't have a shawl on the needles (Purity got permanently sent to the frog pond - mohair is the devil!) , the only thing I really have on the go is two pairs of socks, and a sweater I'm considering frogging.

What to do, what to do?

I took a look at my queue, and while I wouldn't consider it out of hand (there are 25 projects in it), there are definitely some things I'd like to to clean out of it. So, I've decided that from now until the end of the year - I'm going to make a serious attempt to knit from my queue.

I've selected a handful of patterns that I'm going to focus on. The first is going to be the Lore HoodieMom bought me the pattern for my birthday last year, and a few weeks back I ordered some special yarn from our supplier - it's a chunky merino/silk/alpaca blend left over from a special order. I'm going to dye it up this weekend and hopefully be knitting it by next week. Being chunky, this one should fly of the needles.

The others are all lace shawls (what a shock - right?)

I'd like to do Aeolian in our Slinky Cat - colour is undecided, but Im thinking a nice rich garnet.

I started Icarus ages ago, but it was too much for my beginner lace skills. It should be a breeze now. I'm thinking the white silk I bought at the Frolic this year will be perfect - and maybe some beads!

Rock Island is just screaming to be knit in Fluffy Cat. So I'll be dying some of that up this weekend (and some for the shop too!)

Of course, I could have cast on for one of the shawls tonight... but what did I do?Cast on for a pair of fingerless mitts. The conquering will have to wait until the weekend!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Once upon a Fable

I realized that I promised you a detailed post on Fable - and while I flashed pictures, I didn't actually give any details.

So here they are:(please forgive my grumpy morning face - I loved camp - but they made me get out of bed far too early - and I really should learn to stand up straight...sigh.)

The pattern is Fable. And as mentioned, I modded the crap out of it. The original had a folded hem neckline and a rolled hem for bottom and sleeves. I figured, if you're going to fold the hem - make it picot. And if you're picot-ing one hem - do them all!

The next mod is obviously the length. The original is a flirty, flouncy little shrug - and absolutely adorable (if you have a flat stomach and the cute little boobs to match - obviously - I don't), but not quite right for me, so longer it was. Next mod: more fitted sleeves. This was done more as a time-saver than a design feature. I wanted to get this done in time for camp, so extra stitches were out.

Last mod: Three hook-and-eye closures instead of single button on collar. The front edge is an attached i-cord, and even after blocking, it didn't want to lay very flat. The single closure just didn't seem to work, so three it was. I didn't have any buttons delicate enough, and the hook-and-eyes were on hand. I may switch to buttons eventually if I come across the right ones.

Fable was knit with 2.5 skeins of Fluffy Cat, colour is Figgy Pudding. The result is a light, comfy cardigan that I forsee getting a lot of wear. It's perfect for layering, and ideal for the over-air-conditioned office in the summer.

Sadly, a few weeks back, our supplier notified us that the Fluffy Fingering and the Fluffy Lace bases are being discontinued. We will still be able to get Fluffy Light (in between fingering and lace wieght) a few times a year on special shipments.

We still have some fingering and lace in stock (only one in the shop right now but more coming soon) so if you really want some, you'll have to grab it fast.

I'm really disappointed. As you know, Fluffy is my favourite base, but I guess this just makes it that much more special, right?

Monday, October 3, 2011

More Mopar

Mopar continues to make himself right at homeHe's laid claim to the coveted curved scratcherIt's funny - we were all worried about Tux picking on him, and the poor old man getting all stressed out. Nope. He's the one stressing the others out.

This morning at 6 am, he was lying across the top step, barring access to the bedroom to the other cats. Tux was not amused.

Mostly he stays in the closet until Dave comes home. Then he comes down for snuggles. And cat nip.