Thursday, January 30, 2014

Prince Charming

After complaining about the never-ending garter stitch in the Kleio shawl, I've jumped head-first into another all-garter project.

You may remember, back before Christmas, I fell in love with Princess Franklin. I knew, with a few mods, it would be just perfect for Dave.

While I applaud Franklin's fearless use of colour, there's no way I'm ever going to get Dave to wear anything like that. However, I like the idea of a pop of colour in a dreary winter - I just had to go with something a little less risque.
So back in December I dyed up five skeins of Stray Cat in varying shades of blues and browns (and one natural) - not bland by any means, and well within Dave's acceptable range of colours.

Tonight I finally cast on. So far, I'm loving it. While it's just plain old boring garter stitch, the colour changes are keeping it from becoming mind-numbing... so far.

The other mod I'm making is that it will be a scarf, not a cowl. So after a few repeats of the colour sequence, I may just be cursing this one too.

Ideally, I'd like to get this done for Valentine's Day. After just one evening of knitting, I've got about four inches, so if I knit monogamously (with the exception of the Mr. Dress-up socks on my lunch hours) I should be able to manage it with a few days to spare.... of course, it's hard to say how long it will take to weave all those vertical threads... but Valentine's Day is what I'm shooting for, for now.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Purple heart

After what seemed like eons and eons, I finished the knit-on edge of Kleio.

If I'm honest, I'm a little disappointed with this knit. I did not really enjoy it at all. There is nothing wrong with the pattern or the design - for me it just wasn't as satisfying knit.  

First there were the endless garter short rows, which bored me to tears. Then I fought with the braid and ended up having to rip back and omit it. Then it took me four tried to get the lace pattern set. Finally, when I got to the knit-on edge, I thought the end was in sight.... but that edge took forever... (about nine hours in total....)

And the end result... it's pretty, but it's really more of a scarf than a shawl - long, but shallow.

Even adding some beady bling to the lace didn't make me love it in the end. The only thing I love is that it's done.

Better pics will follow when its dry... and maybe I'll love it a little more then...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Little monsters

The day before I headed out to babysit for Sam, I had to get all my Monster High outfits that'd I'd knit over the last year together.

They've always been intended for Lily for her Christmas present. But before I sent them off, I needed to do a quick little photo shoot.

Somewhere, spread out among my many notebooks, I have all these patterns jotted down. I'd intended to put together a little e-book right from the beginning.

There's a huge following for these dolls, but not a lot of patterns that I can find, yet.

The plan was to have it all together and released last summer. But as usual, life had other plans.

Now, I'm not sure where the notebooks are. But I figured that I can at least get the pictures all together. I'll find the notebooks eventually..

These were all fun little knits. The dolls are so skinny that they just fly right off the needles.It's a great way to use up leftover sock yarn, of which I have no shortage.

And Lily loved them. Her dolls were immediately brought out and redressed in the new duds.

It was sad to see a couple of the outfits go... there were a couple I just adored.

And now my poor girls are naked! (Well the outfits they came in are around somewhere....) I guess I better get knitting some more.

This e-book is going to be huge by the time I'm done!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Making candy

Often, when I talk to people about dyeing yarn, one of the things they say is, 'I wish I could do that."

They rarely believe me when I say that they can. Dyeing yarn is not hard. Technically, it's very easy - there's only a handful of steps  (though dyeing stripes can be tricky until you get the hang of it). And most people realize that - the thing they worry about is playing with the colours.Which ones to choose? How many colours to use? Will yellow go with magenta?

And what I tell most people is that the best yarn happens when you don't think about it too much and just have fun.

Let me prove it to you... way back in March last year, Mom had the monsters for March Break and she let them play in the dye studio.

This one, who was not yet five years old....
 ...was let loose on a sock blank that mom had cranked out on her CSM.
The colour choices and execution was all her - Mom was only mixing dyes and making sure she didn't drink them.

That sock blank was unravelled and skeined up as a gift for her mother, Jenn. Rowan called the colourway "Candy Shop".

Well, Jenn joined in on our Mr. Dress-up KAL and turned Candy Shop into a delicious pair of socks.
It's all about having fun!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Early riser

Let me preface this post by saying that I'm not a morning person. Never have been. But I'm not a night owl either. I just mostly like to sleep.

When I was a teenager, Friday and Saturday night went much like this. We'd be all gathered at a friend's house, when I'd look at the time.

"Valerie, where are you going?" One of my friends would say.

"Home.I'll see you guys tomorrow," I'd reply.

"But it's only 9:30 - and it's not a school night," they'd say.

"Yeah - I want to be in bed by 10."

"Do you have to be up early tomorrow for something?

"Yeah- I gotta be out of bed by 11 a.m."

There was a running jok that I'd turn into a pumpkin if I stayed out too late. But really, I've just been having a life-long love affair with my bed.

So it's a measure of how much I love my best friend when I pull my butt out of bed before the sun comes up (EVEN THE SUN IS STILL SLEEPING!!!) and scrape off my frozen car to travel all the way to her place and keep an eye on her demon spawn so she can go out and freeze her butt off in an 8 km race (I said 5 km a couple of posts earlier... it's actually 8 km... which makes it 3 km crazier than it should be) in sub-zero temperatures!

As I was driving, I thought long and hard about what you all said about my cookie plans and how sugar equals hyper.... so I stopped off and got us all a breakfast of donuts and hot chocolate on the way - just for good measure.

Sam was soon of and it was just me an the kids, muching down on our donuts. The eldest two quickly dissapeared into the depths of the basement, and Ethan, Dozer and I
  settled in to watch Tinkerbell and the Secret of the Wings.
Suddenly, I heard a strange noise from the kitchen, where her youngest puppers, Moose, was confined. I went to investigate and discovered that Moose can reach the counter (duh!). So much for the rest of the donuts... (seven in total....)
Donuts.... what donuts????
After that, things went fairly smoothly. (Though I'm sure Sam's going to have fun with a hyped-up puppers this afternoon!)

I didn't bring the shawl to knit - I'm in the middle of beading it, so it's just too much to tote around. Instead, I worked on my Mr. Dress-up sock. I was cursing myself for not bringing scissors and a needle to graft, when I looked down at Sam's coffee table...
It's like she knew....
This is why I have knitters for friends! A quick grafting later....
Sorry for the crappy pic - my dog-stool wouldn't sit still.
He does keep the feet warm though.
and sock one was done! The second one has been cast on and and is halfway through the first repeat too, but Sam got home and I headed home.... and now, it's time for a nap!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Heating things up

On my lunch hours I've been working away on the Mr. Dress-up sock
I'm slowly approaching to toe on the first one. But I'm not in any rush - I have until March 5 to get them finished in time for the KAL.  The bright tomato Twisted Top Cat is definitely making me think warm thoughts - which is good because it's freakin' cold again. Really freakin' cold. We've been really spoiled with the last few years of mild winters - and this one is making us feel it. 

And despite the warm and cozy yarn, it was too cold in the office cafe to work on it today! Their heating system must have been on the blink, because after the 10 minutes it took to get my lunch order, I was a popsicle. I headed back up to my desk to work through my lunch just to be warm. 

How much longer until Spring?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Back on track

Okay... Kleio and I have finally made peace and I've made it through the first eight rows of lace on the shawl
The rows are long and slow, but at least I'm not screwing them up any more. Once I got the lace pattern set, I was fine. I just can't explain why I was having such a hard time doing that in the first place.

I ended up having to use markers to mark off each repeat (there are 24 - that's a lot of markers!), something I haven't had to do when knitting lace fora very long time.

I was hoping to have this shawl off the needles this weekend, but that was before it started misbehaving.

I could probably do it if I had both Saturday and Sunday to knit.  But Saturday I have errands to run, and Sunday I'll be heading to Brantford bright and early. While Samantha is out freezing her butt off in a 5K run, I'll be all warm and cozy in her house hanging out with my favourite little man...
I'm going to try and talk him into watching movies while I knit. He's been under the weather with a cold, so it might work... but with my luck, he'll be all better and a giant ball of mischievous energy.

Of course, I'll be bringing a batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, so maybe I can bribe him.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Rocky Show

I'm currently in a serious dispute with Kleio right now. I haven't had this much trouble knitting lace since I first started knitting lace. (it's not the pattern, it's totally me). While I'm tinking back several rows of 280-some-odd stitches each, I thought I'd give you a little more Rocky.

Long time readers may know some of this, but there are probably some tidbits you don't know.

Rocky is our youngest. (Tux is actually the middle-child for all that he's Top Cat). Rocky was a barn kitten, brought home from my grandparents' barn - the last surviving kitten in a litter of five. (The others got an infection of some sort and didn't make it)

This is what he looked like when I brought him home that night.
Baby barn cat!
Scrawny, filthy and full of almost every parasite you could think of (fleas, lice, ear mites, worms....).
But after a bath, a trip or two to the vet, and some regualr feedings, he plumped right up into a normal healthy little kitten.
Plumped up!
Dave hadn't yet moved in, and I managed to keep Rocky a secret until Dave came to spend the weekend.

"Why is the litter box in the kitchen?" he asked when he came in.

I mutely pointed to the futon, where there was the tiniest little set of white paws sticking out.

I got the glare and a: "You got another cat????"

But Rocky quickly wormed his way into Dave's heart - and despite Dave not living with us until several years later, he claimed Dave as his person.
Handsome, but evil!
 Peno and Tux adapted to his presence pretty quickly.
"Little brothers are the worst!"
Though Peno still looks on him as if he's nothing but a nuisance most of the time.  Which he is.

It took me a couple of weeks to name him. I was actually planning on calling him Alastor - after Alastor Moody of Harry Potter - because he was quite a vocal little thing when he was upset (and had the cutest little grumble).

But then, one evening, Dave and I were curled up on the couch with him, watching the Rocky Horror Picture show. Rocky was purring away and I noted to Dave that he has a very burbling purr... like water bubbling over a rocky stream bed..... rocky stream.... Rocky Horror.... it just clicked - and Rocky was named.
Oh Rocky!
Rocky is a cat with quirks. I'm never allowed to take a bath alone...ever... even after all these years.
"I'm a life guard!"
He's definitely a social cat
"I can't draw, but I'll smack your crayons under the couch for you!"
And loves to be involved with whatever's going on. Unless someone knocks or rings a door bell
"Shhhh... I'm hiding.."
Then you'll find him burrowed into the blankets on the bed.

He's also extremely vocal - and not just when he's upset. 
"Mom. Mom. Mom. Moooooooooommmmmmmm...."
I'm pretty sure he talks just to hear himself talk. And of course, 4 am yodeling is one of his favourite sports (the sparkle balls did not help...), and he especially loves the echo his voice has in the stairwell.

He's put on quite a bit of weight over the years
"I don't comment on your give me a another cheeseburger."
... but I'm hoping this spring, we can get out more and help him lose some of it.
"I am the master of stealth..."
Though he's never going to be able to catch that rabbit.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rocky's got mail

The postman brought a package for Rocky this week...
...from the beautiful feline ladies over at the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.

What could be inside Rocky?
"I don't know, but you're going to have to open it for me.
I don't have opposable thumbs and you yell at me when I shred things."
Back before Christmas, I placed an order for some new sparkle balls for him. They must have got caught up in customs because they usually arrive much quicker. I'd actually forgotten I'd ordered them
They are Rocky's favourite toy. He'll chase them endlessly around the house.
He also has a tendency to pick them up and take off with them. Which means they get lost easy - he's only got a few left in his toy box, so it was time to get some more.

Maybe now he'll be tired enough to sleep through the night and stop yodeling at 4 a.m....

Monday, January 20, 2014

Feeling blue?

Today is Blue Monday - statistically the saddest day of the year.

But we, at Wandering Cat Yarn want you to be cheerful, so we're having a sale
Use the code BLUEMONDAY in the shop and save 10% off your purchase, until Friday!

When you're feeling blue, what colour cheers you up? Personally, I like a nice warm yellow...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Leftover sweater bits...

If you're like most knitters, you tend to have yarn left over after a project... whether it's a few balls because you bought extra to make sure you had enough for your sweater, or just a few yards.

And most of us hang on to those scraps. But what do you do with those scraps? I've knit blankets, and doll clothes, and this time... at hat...
This is another Antler Hat, made from the Baruffa Merinos Otto that I had leftover from a sweater I made for Dad a few Christmases ago.

And then I made a goat
This is the Jelly Bum goat. He's made mostly from Madtosh Heritage. It was leftover from a cardigan I made for Mom that same Christmas. (I've also made a hat and mitts out of the left over... and gave a skein away... I had a lot of leftovers!).

And with these two little projects complete, I can now get back to my shawl knitting, because my Christmas knitting for 2013 is officially done!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Thief in the night....

I woke up to a crime scene this morning.
Some one tried to break into the treasure trove of golden bird seed. And I think I can guess who...

Good thing that bucket is squirrel proof
Okay.... maybe it's not as squirrel proof as I thought....

Determined little critter, isn't he?

Friday, January 17, 2014

The longest short socks

Not only has there not been much time to knit at home this week... there's been very little time to knit on my lunch hours.

As a result, my first Mr. Dress-up sock isn't as far along as I'd like
I've only just started the gusset decreases (and as you can see, these socks aren't even that long in the cuff!)

I will have more time to knit this weekend, but I've got to get a move on with the leftover Christmas gifts... they have to be delivered next Sunday! It's amazing how quickly time creeps by!

But there's still lots of time to join us for the Mr. Dress-up KAL. And you don't have to knit with Wandering Cat Yarn (though it gets you an extra entry if you do...)

And Mom just loaded up the shop with my latest dyeing adventures.
There's Alley Cat, Twisted Top Cat and some Stray Cat.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tux at Two Weeks

It's been two weeks since Tux's amputation. It's amazing what can happen in two weeks. This pic was taken the other night as we were putting the garbage on the curb. The weather was relatively mild and Tux booted out the door right behind me. None of the cats had been out since November, and his siblings weren't far behind. 
"Why is my grass all cold and dead?"
Tux can pretty much do all the things he did before the surgery. And I'm amazed at how quickly he adapted. He can walk, though he has a rythmic little hop to his gait now. Stairs are no issue, and he can pretty much jump on everything just as he did before (he was never a super high jumper in the first place.)

There are a few small things he can't do - but they are relatively minor.

1) He can't cover his litter box business. Since he still has to use one front foot to balance he doesn't have a free paw to scratch the litter. Of course, pre-surgery, his performance in this area was spotty at best. He seem to especially like to let it "breathe" when Dave was home....

2) Because of the same balance issue as above - he can't box with Rocky.  I think he realized this for the first time last night. The two were laying on the couch, when Rocky took offense to Tux using his butt as a pillow. Rocky went on the offensive and Tux look confused for a moment as he tried to get his non-existent paw to smack back. Eventually he just moved into a position where he could bite Rocky easier, and Rocky got mad and left.

"This isn't fair.... my paw is invisible now!!!!"
3)  Cleaning his left side  isn't as easy as it use to be.  Again.. it's all about having that paw for balance. He can get some spots, just by turning his head, but he can't reach as much as he used to.
4) He can't use the scratcher... or scratch the furniture (which Dave is thrilled about). Oh he can reach out his paw and do a half-hearted grab if he's laying down... but not a real scratch. He doesn't mind having his claws clipped though, so from a health standpoint, it's not an issue.

It you want more Tux - follow us on Facebook - I've started a regular post called The Daily Tux, as everyone kept asking me how he was doing. WIth his spectacular progress, I've run out of meaningful comments... it's mostly just - he's fine! So instead, I'm putting up a daily picture of him doing Tux stuff.

Tux and I have almost got all his thank-you cards together - we wanted to send a special note to everyone who bought yarn to help with the surgery. I'm hoping we can finish it up this weekend.

In the meantime - keep you eye on the shop - Mom said something about an update with new yarn soon...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Braid this!

Yeah... that yarn for the braid that was suppose to untwist....
This is what's left of it.

I got about 1/3 of the way through the second row... and I think it was untwisting... but it was just too hard to work with. So I gave up on the pretty little braid and ripped back. My shawl will be braidless (because there's a total of 3 braids on the shawl - and if I have that much trouble with the first one...)

I've got the first two rows of lace done and I think the transition is going to be just fine...
Plain. Simple. Beautiful. (and no twisting!)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Twisted into knots

Question: Do you read a pattern all the way through before starting?

I know it's something you should do and it totally makes sense, but I pretty much never do it. (Kinda like checking gauge.)

Case in point: I was all revved up about coming home and starting the lace section on Kleio. I'm going to bead it too, so I went and dug out the beads I wanted. Then I come down and look at the pattern... Work braid... what braid???

Well it turned out there's this neat little twisty braid that separates the colours - and it's worked with both colours at the same time... no problem, I've gotten good at colour work....

Wait.... you want the two yarns to twist as you're working? Wait... What?
Yep... that's what is says. The result is that neat little two-colour braid you can just start to see coming along (I still have to work the other half of it.) But it also means your yarns twist all to hell.
Not only is it a bloody pain to work with... I'm working in silk... it doesn't just twist - it knots! Apparently it's all suppose to untwist as you work the next row.... here's hoping it unknots too!